The Stuff (1985)

It's smooth and creamy. It's low calorie and delicious. And it kills.
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The Stuff - It's smooth and creamy. It's low calorie and delicious. And it kills.

It is a widely accepted opinion that one should not eat yellow snow... in fact it is probably worth taking this advice one step further than Frank Zappa suggested and ensuring that your children avoid anyone crazy enough to eat snow in the first place. Unfortunately in 1985 few people heeded this guidance and this enabled Larry Cohen to enter the B-Movie market with The Stuff, a horror movie about mysterious white goo found by miners which has the added benefit of being low in calories, good tasting and it doesn't even spot! Despite the movie containing equal amounts of cheese to go along with the yoghurt, the movie is an inspired satire of American consumerism and was delivered into horror audiences at a time when addictive white substances were very fashionable in the crackhead community and dieting was the thing to do. Also delving into the corruption and greed of big business and cultural stereotypes, Larry Cohen manages to encapsulate nearly all of the social paranoia of the eighties and makes a mockery of it all with his own special sauce.

The cheese flavouring makes The Stuff much more palatable to a mainstream audience and enables Cohen to do what he does best... tacky gore, absurd storylines and stereotypical characters... combine this with obvious influences loosely mingling The Blob, Dawn of the Dead, Invaders from Mars and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and the result is a dark satire jabbing a finger at the wholesome American way of life and numerous amusing gore scenes that are guaranteed to culminate in a white sticky mess with much more ferocity than anything starring Kelly Divine.

The movie doesn't dilly-dally but runs through the alley to set the scene. Miner finds tasty (non-yellow) snow and sees a marketing opportunity. Within minutes the viewer is thrown into the corporate espionage and sabotage between leading dairy product manufacturers. As the cocksure David 'Mo' Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) gets more involved in the corporate affairs of the warring conglomerates he starts to uncover a more sinister side to America's new found dairy treat and starts to see society's dependency on this addictive dessert and the zombie like tendencies that are sweeping the nation.

As the danger of The Stuff becomes more apparent and the literal effects of the product's tagline becomes a reality, Mo, and his new found shaving-foam eating sidekick find themselves on a mission to destroy the foodstuff that is spreading it's warped DNA through the community. It is time to involve the overzealous and politically incorrect army commander and his team of army folk to destroy this product once and for all... obviously accompanied by overdramatic TV series musicians for added lack of seriousness. Once the epidemic is calmed the only obvious next step is to make the greedy fat-cats pay for their misdeeds in an ironic act of retribution to restore order where chaos once reigned.

A movie starring sentient marshmallow should not work but underlying and multiple satires disguised by the fact that the movie doesn't take itself seriously in the slightest work hand-in-hand with the obvious b-movie budget and provides a seriously entertaining chunk of traumatic facial mayhem for 93 minutes.

When the seldom seen gore happens there is no holding back, but the demise of the stuff-inflicted tends to end in a haemorrhaging of white gunk rather than the usual strawberry syrup. This makes the deaths more fantastical than disturbing although the iconical cover scene still makes for some squirmworthy viewing as the victims meet their end in scenes similar to a bulimic in a bukkake blooper reel. The effects are quite cheap but the sentiment is there, which is enough to sustain the mood in a movie of this quality and realistically the animate dessert would be a terrifying adversary if such a thing were to happen in everyday life.

If you look beyond the surface of The Stuff then what you will see is a satirical masterpiece with tongue planted firmly in cheek while maintaining cultural relevancies and sequel possibilities as the addictive white stuff is driven underground into the blackmarket to feed a new generation of stuff-heads.
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