1985 - 87m.
Only Larry Cohen could convince a studio to back a horror flick about killer yogurt. After all, he managed to get funding for films about the mutant killer babies of the It's Alive series, an unofficial sequel to Stephen King's Salem's Lot, a giant prehistoric winged serpent named Q, and Full Moon High, a comedy about a high school jock who turns into a werewolf - pre-dating the 1985 Michael J. Fox starring Teen Wolf by four years! I can almost hear the pitch now: "Think of The Blob only the blob-like substance, called "The Stuff", ends up being sold as a desert that takes over their body and makes them go insane. Now toss in a bunch of subtle satire about consumerism, addiction and big corporations and, viola, you have yourselves a modern day monster movie!"
When a thick white yogurt-like substance is found bubbling out of the ground by some security guards at a small town mine it soon goes on to be the main (and only) ingredient in a popular desert entitled "The Stuff". People just can't get enough of it, it's taking business away from other desert companies like ice cream and cookie makers, and it seems to have strange addictive qualities.
That's where industrial spy Mo Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) comes in. Hired by the competition to investigate The Stuff and find out just what's in it, and why people love it so, Mo is about to get himself into more than he bargained for. At the same time, youngster Jason (Scott Bloom) has realized that The Stuff isn't good for anyone, making him the 'Boy Who Cried Wolf' character of the flick as he tries to convince others of this even having a supermarket freak out where he smashes various displays and cases of the deadly desert.
In amongst Mo's investigations and Jason trying to get away from his family who have been taken over Invasion of the Body Snatchers style, Cohen peppers in a few effects sequences where our tasty Stuff forces its way out of unsuspecting eaters mouths. Eventually Mo briefly ends up with comedic sidekick "Chocolate Chip" Charlie (Garrett Morris, one-time "Saturday Night Live" cast member) and partners up with Jason and advertising executive Nicole (Andrea Marcovicci) to try and stop this alien substance from taking over the World - which ends with a low scale Military assault on a factory and a War of the Worlds inspired scene set at a radio station.
True story: there's a rehab facility about half-an-hour from where I live and years ago I remember hearing from someone I knew that worked at it that Moriarty was staying there and was a problem patient. This, for some reason, didn't really surprise me. I suppose Mike put just as much zeal into drinking as he did performing. And what a performance he gives here. Pairing with Cohen for the second time, Moriarty is definitely the main reason to watch here and is awesome being the fast-talking, wisecracking, and pushy Mo. He'd later reteam with Cohen for It's Alive III: Island of the Alive and Return to Salem's Lot. Marcovicci, who you'll recognize from various 80s television shows and b-movies, is solid as the female lead and thankfully isn't just used as Mo's romantic interest. Bloom, in his acting debut, gets better as the film goes on and is the younger brother of the very active Brian who appears here as his sibling. Paul Sorvino pops up in the last third as a gruff Army Colonel and Danny Aiello also has a quick cameo.
An amalgamation of The Blob and Body Snatchers but still distinctly Cohen due to its social commentary, The Stuff is a reasonably entertaining time thanks to a few decent effects sequences (like when a guy is pinned halfway up a wall by the Stuff), some sharp dialogue with my favourite being when Mo is pulled over in a tanker and the policeman says "Hey, your hose is hanging out back there" to which he replies "Are you going to arrest me for indecent exposure?", and Moriarty's aforementioned performance. It's one of Cohen's more middle-road efforts, and is completely a product of the 80s, but there's enough here to keep you amused for 87 minutes. (Chris Hartley, 2/10/11)
Directed By: Larry Cohen.
Written By: Larry Cohen.
Starring: Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garrett Morris, Paul Sorvino.