BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
It begins in the snow. In a dramatic shot, a Stetson-wearing worker discovers a thick white substance bubbling up from the ground. Giant flanks of snow pepper his old face. He approaches it silently. Carefully. He can’t resist, though, sampling this marshmallow-looking substance once he dips in his fingers into it. It is sweet. Tasty even. And he immediately wants more. And then he gets to thinking. All this goodness must be shared!
But what to call it?
Turns out his discovery – being the tastiest non-processed item on the grocery store shelf – virtually markets itself. It is, of course, The Stuff and, with much humor and a wicked nod to our advertising skills (especially in the me-me-me decade), this calorie-free desert item is a relative hit in homes across the United States. No home is without it.
Writer/director Larry Cohen ranks right up there with Roger Corman and Jack Hill in my book. Cohen, the all-around wizard behind Q – The Winged Serpent, God Told Me To, Black Caesar, and the It’s Alive series, offered audiences – back in 1985 – a chance to reflect upon the effects of consumerism with his science fiction/horror/comedy The Stuff. It has since gone on to be a cult classic and Arrow Video’s damn fine handling of its blu-ray debut is a release not to miss.
Continuing the partnership established in Q – The Winged Serpent, The Stuff stars Michael Moriarty and, as expected, his genuine weirdness to the craft of acting steals the show. That is until he is partnered with Garrett Morris as Charles W. "Chocolate Chip Charlie" Hobbs. The duo are simply slick together. Hilarious and real and truly natural, their timing together is impeccable as they get to the truth behind this alien substance that is turning happy homes into brain-dead clones.
The movie is equally absurd and intelligent. It missed the mark during its New World limited release in theaters but, damn, if this film doesn’t fire on all cylinders for its blu-ray presentation. It’s economical, witty, and plays off its The Blob inspiration with outlandish flair. Co-starring Andrea Marcovicci, Paul Sorvino, Danny Aiello, Patrick O'Neal, and Scott Bloom as Jason, the boy nobody believes saw The Stuff move in his refrigerator, the movie, effects and all, is a complete righteous hoot.
Supported by an atmosphere of improvisation, Moriarty pushes the movie along with a pace that is both economic and amusing. The commercials for The Stuff included within the movie include Clara Peller reenacting her “Where’s the beef” line and a series of cheesy glamor spoofs only add to the spectacle of it all. Cohen is a beast behind the camera; he is also a whole lot of fun and it shows. This is tightly sequenced and yet playful. It is what most B-movie flicks aspire to be.
The Stuff belongs on your shelf. Just watch it ooze.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 87 mins
Director: Larry Cohen
Writer: Larry Cohen
Cast: Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garrett Morris
Genre: Comedy | Horror
Tagline: Are you eating it ...or is it eating you?
Memorable Movie Quote: "Everybody has to eat shaving cream once in a while"
Distributor: New World Pictures
Release Date: June 14, 1985
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: April 19, 2016
Synopsis: A delicious, mysterious goo that oozes from the earth is marketed as the newest dessert sensation. But the tasty treat rots more than teeth when zombie-like snackers who only want to consume more of the strange substance at any cost begin infesting the world.
Available on Blu-ray - April 19, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A
Courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video, the 1080p transfer of Cohen’s film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and has been fully restored in 2K from the original camera negative. The results are vibrant, strong, and definitely worth owning. Enjoy those early 80s fashions because – especially on blu-ray – there’s no denying that this was a definite period of fashion transition. Clothing is tight, ribbed, and full of textures. Colors are saturated and black levels are strong. Contrast is good. Grain is also strong, never dipping in quality. And, with lots of gooey details filling the screen with gelatinous white blobs, there’s no disappointment to be had with the visual upgrade efforts. There is only a standard audio track - English LPCM 1.0 (Mono) – but it is more than sufficient for the release.
Arrow Video really knows their stuff. Heh heh heh. They’ve loaded this release with a bunch of new material, including a feature-length documentary on the making of the movie that covers a bunch of behind-the-scenes information. There are interviews from the cast and the cre, including Larry Cohen, producer Paul Kurta, actress Andrea Marcovicci, Steve Neill (mechanical makeup effects) and Kim Newman. There are new introductions and a trailer commentary, as well as a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Joel Harley, illustrated with original stills and promotional materials, and a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin.
- Can’t Get Enough of The Stuff: Making Larry Cohen’s Classic Creature Feature (53 min)
- Introduction and trailer commentary by director Darren Bousman (2 min)
- Original Trailer (2 min)