A young boy is worried about the effect The Stuff, a chilled dessert that is taking America by storm, is having on his family. Meanwhile an ice cream company have hired former FBI agent David ‘Mo’ Rutherford to infiltrate the company that make the product. His investigation leads him to an unexpected revelation that could have disastrous consequences for all mankind.
The Stuff is one of many low budget sci-fi movies that were released in the 80s. Larry Cohen who was responsible for It's Alive and the excellent Q: The Winged Serpent directs from his own screenplay. Combining an alien invasion plot with a fun pastiche of advertising and mass consumerism the script is brisk and directed with enough pace to gloss over any plot holes. It has all the expected ingredients of such films; the young boy disbelieved by everyone, the investigative hero, the big conspiracy and an appearance by the armed forces. There is a suitable sense of mystery and paranoia throughout with Mo's investigation leading him to deserted towns and mysterious factories and also some fun spoof adverts for The Stuff scattered throughout the film. But what viewers really want to see is some gross out FX. There are some nice moments in which the titular dessert comes out to play but there could have been a few more, then again don’t these films always promise more than they deliver?
Michael Moriarty, who has made memorable performances in other Larry Cohen films, gives an equally impressive performance as Mo Rutherford. Funny and laid back he makes a likeable lead and the film is at its best when he teams up with the wonderfully named Chocolate Chip Charlie. A sadly underused character Charlie is a man of action but the only thing he “knows better than fighting is running”. A not unreasonable course of action when faced with The Stuff. Paul Sorvino is also entertaining as a right wing commie hating military maverick.
A fun variation of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Larry Cohen’s film is one of the more enjoyable 80s B movies. It has a good leading man to root for and some deliciously gunky FX and despite a rather rushed finale the bad guys get their just desserts! But don’t be too surprised if you find yourself thinking twice before reaching into the fridge for your Yakult after experiencing The Stuff.
Talented American writer/director who often combines exploitation subject matter with philosophical/social concepts. Began working in TV in the 1960s, where he created popular sci-fi series The Invaders, before directing his first film, Bone (aka Dial Rat), in 1972. A pair of blaxploitation thrillers - Black Caesar and Hell Up In Harlem - followed, while 1974's horror favourite It's Alive! was a commercial hit that led to two sequels.