Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Stuff (1985)

You know what's great about the 1980s? The era had a seemingly endless supply of bizarre horror movies, meaning I have no shortage of 80s horror fuel to keep me going. And among the many strange ideas and concepts to erupt from that decade comes a movie that sets out to ruin that thing that almost everyone loves: ice cream. Okay, it's not precisely ice cream, but it is close enough in the way it seems to be sold in ice cream style containers. The truth is though that it looks more like marshmallow fluff, which I can assure you is not for everyone.

This guy, for example, does not seem to be having a great time.

For now, we're just gonna say this is the movie about killer yogurt and call it a day. I mean, yogurt has living things in it and the Stuff is very much alive, so it works. Sure, a tube of Gogurt isn't going to take over your body and force you to enforce it's evil agenda...at least, I don't think it will. I don't eat it, personally. Yogurt is not my thing, as I generally prefer when the food I eat is guaranteed not to be slowly murdering me from within. That's why I eat so many salads. Let's get to the movie before I lose myself in thinking about my delicious salads.


Mmmm....salads....
Our truly epic tale begins with some workers out in the winter discovering a mysterious substance bubbling from the ground. Rather than reacting in a realistic manner and making a repulsed face before walking away, we instead get a reminder that these guys are idiots when one decides to stick his finger in it and taste some for himself. Because when you see a big puddle of warm white stuff, surely you need to put that in your mouth. Yes, I'm sure this isn't a porno. Of course, because we're no longer in a world of logic, this shit bubbling from the ground is sweet and he gets all of his buddies to come try some, because why not? Let's all die together!

Nothing says friendship like eating a substance that hollows out your insides.
It turns out that the mysterious viscous material that looks like Satan just jizzed through the Earth's crust also has zero calories, so of course it becomes marketed and sold to the eager populace. I guess they're not really lying...it will make you lose weight. Just not quite how you want to. Desperate after the sudden appearance of this new snack food craze, various ice cream company heads come together to hire our hero: David "Mo" Rutherford, former FBI agent and current industrial spy/saboteur. And remember how I promised more of Michael "Harry Potter Sr." Moriarty? Well, here he is, this time being the hero rather than the father of one.

No sick dance moves this time though. Can't win 'em all.
They want him to go investigate what exactly the Stuff is, then put it out of commission so that they feel secure in selling ice cream to the masses once more. It's also the perfect excuse to woo our leading lady, Nicole, who actually works to advertise the Stuff while being unaware of what it actually is. But our man Mo and the lovely Nicole aren't our only heroes, no no no. We also have the troubled youth, Jason, who while going downstairs to his kitchen for a late night snack instead discovers that the Stuff is crawling around in the fridge. This leads him to try and save everyone by destroying as much of it as he can at the local supermarket the next day, but the people label him as crazy or acting out. The people are simply too far gone to listen to the warning of a frightened boy whose own family is now dining regularly on the Stuff.

You go on one simple dessert destroying frenzy and suddenly everyone gets all judgey.
Mo, meanwhile, was following a trail through the now missing or retired members of the FDA who allowed the Stuff to go through under rather suspicious circumstances. The only real clue? A town where all their mail is being forwarded to. Also, the one FDA guy he got in touch with? Yeah, he gets eaten by his Stuff filled dog.

Animals always end up getting the short end of the stick in these stories. Poor doggo.
Going to the town to investigate, he discovers it is essentially a ghost town with only the gas station open. He also discovers he's not the only person there investigating as he runs into Chocolate Chip Charlie, a ice cream mogul whose own family sold his company out from under him to the Stuff's company. The two decide to work together, soon discovering the few people here in the town are little more than hollow Stuff filled shells and allowing them to see firsthand what consumption of the Stuff does to a person.

I love staring at that one wiggly bit there. It's hypnotizing.
Charlie and Mo escape the Stuff zombies before going their separate ways, as Mo learns of young Jason. And he shows up just in time too, as his now Stuff controlled family are attempting to force him to eat it. He manages to trick them by replaced it with shaving cream, which probably tastes awful but likely feels better than having your insides slowly digested by yogurt, then runs outside where Mo makes it there just in time to rescue him as they both drive off to join forces with Nicole and Charlie in the ongoing battle against white viscous stuff that is often forced down people's throats.

A porn parody of this movie would be really really easy...
Nicole and Mo head undercover into the Stuff factory in an attempt to uncover secrets, but this only results in them then being targeted as Stuff literally coves out of the hotel bed they're laying in to kill them. Nicole manages to burn the Stuff that latches onto Mo's face, but there's a veritable giant mound of it crawling up the wall ready to eat one of them. What to do? Oh, I dunno, maybe knock the hotel henchman guy into it so he gets eaten instead?

Man, that foaming cleaner really does pick up everything, doesn't it?
Jason has his own run-in back at the plane they left him in as Stuff gets in and kills the pilot and comes after him. He manages to escape and they all end up in the same place, the true source of the Stuff: a giant fucking hole in the ground where it just comes out, ready to eat people. Wonderful. Jason ends up hiding inside of a tanker truck's big ol' tank for carrying Stuff to avoid being found. The problem with that idea is that it also happens to get Stuff pumped into it. Luckily, Mo and Nicole steal said truck after planting their explosives to ruin the Stuff lake and get the kid out just before he can get eaten. Then take out a Stuff controlled cop, then head to their next stop on their journey to stopping the Stuff: the base of a heavily armed militia of people who I'm fairly certain do not approve of gun control.

It's alright though, because their leader is Paul Sorvino. I'd probably do whatever he told me to do too.
Mo is able to talk the leader, Col. Malcolm Grommett Spears, into helping them out under somewhat false pretenses and they all break into the factory to destroy it. Within the factory, they find a remarkable lack of people fighting them off. It turns out that's because all the Stuff has left the workers and become a giant blob that goes after Nicole and Jason. They manage to kill the blob and Spears now sees how truly dangerous the Stuff is, agreeing to use his connections to get the message out about it. Charlie then comes back, which is great...except it turns out he's actually been taken over by the Stuff, which is less great. It is a great effect though.

In retrospect, maybe a diet consisting solely of Oreo cream probably wasn't the best idea.
After putting down the Stuff that erupts from poor deceased Charlie, they get the message out and people actually listen, disposing of the Stuff and seeking medical help for those who aren't already too far gone. We then come full circle, as Mo ends up in the office of the man who packages and distributes the Stuff, Mr. Fletcher, as he informs our hero that the destruction he and his friends caused has not really hurt his business at all. In fact, he's planning on releasing a brand new product called The Taste, which is a blend of the Stuff and ice cream, prompting the arrival of the man who hired Mo in the beginning, Mr. Evans, to show up and say they're working together. That ain't gonna fly though as Mo pulls out a gun and Jason walks in with a box of the Stuff, forcing the two men to eat all of it at gunpoint where Mo then asks "are you eating it..or is it eating you?" before the cops arrive to arrest them. The film then ends as we see people selling the Stuff in shady deals to clearly addicted people, meaning that the war isn't quite over yet.

Except in the case of some people like Jason's parents, who are dead now. Yay, orphans!
Sadly, we never got a sequel to this movie, despite an ending that clearly implied more threats on the horizon for our heroes. It's kind of sad we live in a world where this movie gets called schlock and never gets a sequel, despite having a very timeless message about the dangers of consumerism, yet we can get a seemingly endless amount of Sharknado films. To spell out what you probably already figured out, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It actually is a very clever and fun horror film, with likable protagonists, an interesting concept for the "villain", and practical effects that still outdo a lot of the big budget CGI we get in movies today.

Seriously, someone needs to get that man a glass of water.
I really recommend tracking this down and viewing it for yourself, which is actually fairly easy now since Arrow Films has released it on Blu-Ray. Me, I'm sadly working from a much older copy so I don't get to enjoy that hi-def remaster just yet. The Stuff is a classic 1980s horror movie truly worth your time, sop go give it a watch. I just don't recommend eating anything white or creamy during said viewing. Trust me, it's probably best that you not tempt fate. Later days, bleeders!

"Personally, I'd rather have me a nice steak."

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