Second Union

Second Union


Can’t get enough…of The Stuff!

This movie came on the scene in June 1985 alongside The Goonies, St. Elmo’s Fire, Cocoon, and Lifeforce and was the brainchild of cult film mogul Larry Cohen who we lost a year ago. Cohen was responsible for such titles as It’s Alive- 1974, Q: The Winged Serpent-1982, and A Return to Salem’s Lot-1987.

In The Stuff, a mysterious white substance oozes from the earth and is discovered by railroad workers who of course immediately taste it. The Stuff quickly becomes not only a successful competitor to ice cream but a nationwide craze. Former FBI agent/industrial spy ‘Mo’ Rutherford is hired by the competition to dig up dirt on The Stuff and is soon joined by cookie mogul ‘Chocolate Chip’ Charlie, who also would like to get to the bottom of The Stuff.

Meanwhile, in Long Island, young Jason can’t sleep and visits the refrigerator to witness The Stuff creeping around on the shelf outside its container and quickly gains an aversion to it even as his family becomes addicted.

I don’t think it’s giving too much away to reveal The Stuff is actually a living parasite that turns its eaters into mindless versions of themselves that exist only to consume more…of The Stuff. Only a retired army Colonel and his private militia can help lead a rebellion against the mindless Stuff eaters and save America. But who will save us from the corporations and their next product?

Like the 80s zombie movies, The Stuff is an obvious criticism of consumer culture happily driven by corporations, as intended by writer/director Larry Cohen. “My main inspiration was the consumerism and corporate greed found in our country and the damaging products that were being sold. I was constantly reading in the newspapers about various goods and materials being recalled because they were harming people. For example, you had foods being pulled off the market because they were hazardous to people’s health.” (Larry Cohen: The Stuff of Gods and Monsters; Bear Manor Media.) Cohen also liked to point out the strategy of the tobacco companies giving out free cigarettes to soldiers during World War II, addicting a generation of young men that survived the war.
With effects that are sometimes hilarious and sometimes horrifying, The Stuff moves briskly through it’s 86 minute runtime-at times too briskly due to its $1.7 million budget.

The Stuff stars Michael Moriarty, Garrett Morris, Paul Sorvino, Danny Aiello, as well as identically blue/green-eyed real-life brothers Jason and Brian Bloom. You might also notice cameos by Abe Vigoda and Clara ‘Where’s The Beef’ Peller.
The Stuff streams free on Tubitv and Prime Video. Enough is never enough.

Socially Distant Cinema is a column that will regularly point you to content from the 70s/80s currently available on various platforms that may bring you some entertainment during these periods of physical distancing.

Related Articles