director Larry Cohen
Man, I love me some Larry Cohen.
I’d seen It’s Alive (1974) and It’s Alive 2: It Lives Again (1978) as an impressionable child. As an older kid, I yearned to see Q (1982). As a teen I think I finally learned who he was, and saw God Told Me To (1976) and It’s Alive 3: Island of the Alive (1987). But it wasn’t until my 20’s, lurking the cult film section of San Francisco’s Le Video that I discovered The Stuff.
A film school pal and I brought it home for an afternoon movie session. And we both could not believe how awesome and funny the movie was.
From the opening scene in which an old codger stumbles upon some weird white stuff bubbling out of the snow on the ground and instinctually tastes it, “It’s good!” Cohen’s film is both horror film and hilarious parody about consumerism, fads, and capitalism. The Stuff gets marketed with wonderfully apt commercials to a giddy public. Only The Stuff isn’t just some competitor for ice cream or yoghurt, it’s a crazy living organism that infects people, hollows them out, and runs them like pod people. And can be like a big white Blob (1958) too!
The funny thing is how much the kids liked it. They were totally into it. For an R-rated affair, it does feature a handful of pretty gruesome effects. Most specifically when Garrett Morris (“Chocolate Chip Charlie”) stretches his face out and spews The Stuff. Oh yeah, the movie’s got a lot of interesting character actors in it. It stars Cohen stalwart Michael Moriarty but also features the likes of Danny Aiello and Paul Sorvino.
The social critique might not be quite as biting but it is funny. Some of the comedy is on the campy side, but hilariously intentional.
I was telling the kids that this is a rather obscure movie. It’s too bad. It’s freaking hilarious.