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The Stuff

The Stuff DVD cover
Directed by Larry Cohen
Produced by Paul Kurta
Written by Larry Cohen
Starring Michael Moriarty
Andrea Marcovicci
Garrett Morris
Paul Sorvino
Scott Bloom
Danny Aiello
Patrick O'Neal
James Dixon
Rutanya Alda
Music by Anthony Guefen
Richard Seaman (jingles)
Cinematography Paul Glickman
Editing by Armand Lebowitz
Distributed by New World Pictures
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date(s) June 14, 1985 (USA)
Running time 93 minutes
Language English
Budget $1,700,000 (estimated)
Gross revenue Unknown

The Stuff is a 1985 satirical comedy horror film written, produced, and directed by Larry Cohen and starring Michael Moriarty, Garrett Morris, Andrea Marcovicci, and Paul Sorvino. It was also the last film of noted actor Alexander Scourby.

Contents

Synopsis

The plot, a scathing commentary on consumerism, involves a sticky white substance which a man walking about the woods discovers, reminiscent of the opening scene of The Blob. However, in this case the man eats the substance rather than poking it warily with a stick. Upon tasting it, the man and his friend discover it has a sweet and highly addictive taste. Later, the slime is marketed as "the Stuff" and sold to the general public in pint (roughly half-liter) containers like ice cream. It is marketed as having no calories and as being sweet, creamy, and filling. The Stuff becomes a nationwide craze and drastically hurts the sales of ice cream. A former FBI agent turned industrial saboteur, David "Mo" Rutherford (Moriarty), is hired by the leaders of the suffering ice cream industry, as well as junk food mogul Charles W. "Chocolate Chip Charlie" Hobbs(Garrett Morris), to find out exactly what the Stuff is and destroy it. His efforts reveal that the craze for the dessert is far deadlier and much more evil than anyone had believed--the Stuff is actually a living, parasitic, and possibly sapient organism, and it gradually takes over the brain, mutating those who eat it into bizarre zombie-like creatures. A little boy named Jason (Scott Bloom) also discovers the Stuff is alive and sees how it affects his family, and gets arrested for vandalizing a supermarket in trying to smash displays of the Stuff, attracting the attention of Rutherford, who comes to his aid. Rutherford also manages to charm Nicole, an advertising executive (Marcovicci), who becomes his partner and lover when she sees the effect of the Stuff. The trio infiltrate the distribution operation, which is actually an organized corporate effort to spread the Stuff on the basis of eliminating world hunger, and destroy the lake of Stuff with explosives. Paul Sorvino co-stars as Colonel Malcolm Grommett Spears, a retired soldier who leads a militia in battling the zombies and transmitting a civil defense message for Americans to break their addiction to the Stuff by destroying it with fire. The Stuff addiction is ended and Rutherford, Nicole, Jason, and Col. Spears are hailed as national heroes.

Mo then visits the Stuff’s company head, a man named Mr. Fletcher(Patrick O'Neal). He tells Mo that the destruction of the mine has not hurt his business, since the Stuff seeps out from many places in the ground, but Mo vows to find those places and gets rid of them all. Another man, a Mr. Vickers (Danny Aiello), brings in Mr. Evans(Alexander Scourby, the ice cream mogul with whom he is now working--and who had originally hired Mo to find out about what the Stuff was. They tell him they have come up with a new product which they call "The Taste," which is a mix of 88% ice cream and 12% the Stuff, supposedly enough to make people crave for more without taking over their minds or killing them.

However, Mo then brings in Jason, who is carrying a box, and then holds the two moguls at gunpoint. The box is full of pint containers of the Stuff, and Mo forces both to eat it all, as punishment for all the lives lost to it, including Jason’s family, and for their greed. As they do, Rutherford asks pointedly, "Gentlemen--are you eatin' it...or is it eatin' YOU?" When they finish, Mo and Jason leave them to the approaching police.

The movie ends with smugglers selling the Stuff on the black market.

Production

Some of the substance props or stand-ins for the real Stuff used in the movie included lots of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, yogurt, and, for one scene involving an enormous avalanche-like effect of Stuff crashing through a wall, fire-extinguishing foam. Other shots, such as the ones of the giant lake of Stuff, required superimposed images and animation.[1]

The scene in the motel where the Stuff comes out of the mattress and pillows and attacks the man on the wall and ceiling was shot in a room that could turn upside down, allowing the Stuff to move up and down the wall. It was exactly the same room used in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) when Johnny Depp's character Glen is sucked into his bed and his blood is regurgitated back out onto the ceiling.[1]

Writer-director Larry Cohen wanted to cast Arsenio Hall as Chocolate Chip Charlie W. Hobbs, since he thought he was not only good but a rising star. However, the execs at New World Pictures wanted someone more recognizable, and thus cast Garrett Morris instead.[2]

A young Mira Sorvino makes an uncredited appearance in the film. She had come to visit her father, Paul Sorvino, on set, and was used as an extra.

References

External links








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