The Stuff has always been on my list of films that I just had to see, but somehow had never managed to actually track down a copy and consume it, but now thanks to good folks at Arrow Films all that has changed. This week they have released a brand new transfer copy of the original 1985 cult classic on both DVD and Blu-Ray.
The man behind this fan favourite is Larry Cohen, who has brought us such other films as the It’s Alive franchise, Return to Salem’s Lot and wrote the screenplay for Phonebooth and Maniac Cop.
Whilst the plot may seem laughable by today’s standards, in the nearly 30 years that it has been out it had managed to gather such a cult following that fans of the film will welcome this new transfer and a whole host of extras into their home collection.
The story seems like a simple one; in which a mysterious substance in found in the ground which tastes great and so it is swiftly marketed as THE NEW desert for America. Little do the consumers know that the substance, called The Stuff, is actually turning them into mindless consuming zombies that just need of the product. Like the slogan says, “Enough is never enough!”. Underneath this simple plot, is a comment on how people are willing to buy into anything that they think is good for them without giving anything a second thought. As much as the characters try, they just cannot get any information as to what goes into the product and how it has become so popular.
Whilst some of the special effects are rather poor compared to the usual ones that audiences now expect, the film has a nostalgic feel about it and harks back to era in which it was made and also to time when everything wasn’t done with CGI and practical effects were the norm in cinema. There is a whole different array of exploding heads and melting bodies to keep horror fans happy throughout the film and it is just a joy to see the different ways in which The Stuff moves around the screen and interacts with its surroundings. That isn’t to say that the whole film is just filled with horrific scenes of huge gelatinous blobs attacking people from the inside out, far from it. There are some rather funny moments throughout the film and it really gives the whole piece a rounded feel, that the horror can be broken up with some humorous one liners such as; “Everybody has to eat shaving cream once in a while”.
Included in this new release is a 50 minute documentary that invites writer and director Larry Cohen to talk about the reason he made the film, and it gives a wonderful insight into the fact that he just didn’t want to make a usual horror film; he actually wanted to make a comment on society at the time and isn’t that what all great horror films do? They make us take a step back at look at what is going on in society and question how we are living our lives, after they have finished scaring us of course. The producer of the film takes this idea one step further and says he doesn’t even feel the film is a horror, although he does struggle to find a genre to fit it in. Alongside the documentary is a gorgeously produced booklet that contains an essay from Joel Harley which focusses on the topic of how food and horror films goes together and he manages to reference everything from Rope to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Poultrygeist. It certainly does make for an interesting read.
Whilst The Stuff may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly has enough fans to warrant this new re-issue and I’m sure a lot of fans are going to be very happy to have this updated version in their collections. I know I certainly am. To find a copy of The Stuff for yourself, you can find it on the Arrow Films website, here