The Stuff (1985) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Apr-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Director Larry Cohen
Trailer-25 trailers and TV spots for various Larry Cohen films
Interviews-Crew-2 interviews with director Larry Cohen
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 88:01 (Case: 86)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Larry Cohen
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Michael Moriarty
Andrea Marcovicci
Garrett Morris
Paul Sorvino
Scott Bloom
Danny Aiello
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Anthony Guefen


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, after end credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Some men find a white goo like substance seeping from the ground; it is tasty and addictive and soon “The Stuff” is being marketed and consumed all over America as a dessert, fuelled by cravings and an ad campaign orchestrated by Nicole Kendall (Andrea Marcovicci). Only a few people, such as the young boy Jason (Scott Bloom), are alert to the dangers of the white dessert, but elsewhere it is franchised into takeaway outlets and supermarkets. The ice cream manufacturers are alarmed by their falling sales and hire industrial espionage expert David ‘Mo’ Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) to investigate the company which makes The Stuff and possibly sabotage its manufacture.

     As Mo delves into his assignment, he finds people acting very strangely indeed and is the target of murder attempts. He teams up with Nicole and Jason to find the mine which is the source of The Stuff, and sees for himself how the goo is eating people from the inside. But he needs extra firepower, in the shape of conspiracy theorist nut-case Colonel Spears (Paul Sorvino) and his private army, to challenge The Stuff. But are they too late to save America from The Stuff?

     The Stuff is a 1985 cult film from independent writer / director Larry Cohen who has had a long career writing for TV series and the occasional feature screenplay, such as Phone Booth (2002). He has also written and directed a number of low budget Blaxploitation films (for example, Black Caesar (1973)) and horror films (It’s Alive (1974) and its sequels) but always with a sense of humour, and there is usually a message too. The Stuff is no exception; it is silly, funny, over the top, very entertaining and contains a condemnation of advertising, marketing, corporation greed and a strong warning to be careful about the food you eat.

     The visual effects and acting in The Stuff are what one might expect from a low budget film. Made in the days before CGI the model and prosthetic make-up effects are obvious but quite fun and Cohen is inventive with the goo, at one time turning a room upside down so the goo appears to flow upwards. It is all rather cute, low key and entertaining. The cast includes some well-known faces in bit parts, including Danny Aiello and Patrick O’Neal, and Paul Sorvino has a longer part as the off-kilter Colonel Spears who could have walked straight out of Dr. Strangelove (1964). Andrea Marcovicci as the female interest is pretty much disposable but Michael Moriarty in the lead is goofy and good fun.

     The Stuff is a cheesy, low budget horror / comedy with a message. The script is all over the place, the acting and dialogue variable, the visual effects cute but it is very entertaining and a whole lot of fun. Just don’t watch it while having yoghurt or ice cream for dessert.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     The Stuff is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with slight black bars on each side. The original ratio was 1.85:1 and the print is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a soft looking print with good natural colours. Skin tones are good, brightness and contrast consistent. In some night scenes excessive digital noise was evident (such as at 40:22 or 77:00) although at other times it was fine. Blacks were OK, shadow detail was sometimes good, other times indistinct. There was some aliasing and ghosting with movement against broken backgrounds, but marks were not evident.

     The layer change at 61:24 was at a scene change and resulted in a slight pause.

    There are no subtitles.

     Not a print to show off the system, but nothing to spoil your enjoyment either.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The only audio choice is English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps. It is not surround encoded.

     Dialogue was clear and easy to understand. Effects, such as explosions, were reasonably sharp, but of course had little depth. There was no surround or sub-woofer use.

    Lip synchronisation could be out at times, but not overly so.

     The original score by Anthony Guefen was quite TV sounding giving obvious cues. It suited the mood of the film.

     The audio track got the job done.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The DVD cover notes as an extra “Larry Cohen trailer compilation”. What happens is that on start-up we get over 25 trailers / TV spots that run after each other without a pause. For example, there is a trailer for God Told Me To, plus 5 TV spots for that film. This is just like the days of VHS tapes - there is no menu, and if you are looking for a particular trailer you must individually skip the others. For what it is worth, the trailer for The Stuff is number 9. These trailers as a group also cannot be selected from the menu. Note that a trailer for The Stuff also plays at the conclusion of the feature.

Audio Commentary – Director Larry Cohen

     Cohen speaks about actors, locations, visual effects, his filmmaking style, design of The Stuff packaging, on set anecdotes. He is an entertaining speaker and although there are some silences the film audio plays under the commentary. Well worth a listen.

Interviews

     When you go to the Interviews menu it is not clear that there are in fact two interviews – just move the red curser.

     Larry Cohen interview by Andrew Leavold (67:48)

     This is an audio interview only by phone with Cohen before a screening of The Stuff. He chats and answers questions posted by Australian Andrew Leavold. The discussion covers Cohen’s career as a screenwriter working on early TV and continues through his films from his first film, Bone, onwards through his Blaxploitation era, horror films and other films. He has some interesting comments on independent guerrilla filmmaking, shooting on the streets without permission, and on working with various stars. There is only a little about The Stuff. As they talk, film stills and film posters remain on the screen for about 6-8 minutes at a time. Recorded within the last 3 or 4 years, this is interesting, but as there is no footage it is probably one for fans of Cohen.

     Larry Cohen interview at Fantasy Film Festival (14:46)

    A made for TV interview conducted by Mick Garris filmed around 1980 before a showing of Cohen’s It Lives Again. Cohen talks about his early TV writing career, influences and about It’s Alive and It Lives Again. Obviously nothing about The Stuff, as it had not been made at that time!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US version of The Stuff includes the Cohen commentary, but not the interviews. There was an older Region 0 UK release, but it is no longer listed on Amazon.com. Our Australian Region All NTSC version is the best around.

Summary

     The Stuff, is a cheesy, low budget horror / comedy with a message. The script is all over the place, the acting and dialogue variable, the visual effects cute but it is a whole lot of fun. Fans of low budget horror / comedy and / or Larry Cohen will get a kick out of The Stuff.

     The video and audio are serviceable, the extras are worthwhile, if a bit odd.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, July 08, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE