Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 8th, 2014
BluRay released: March 10th, 2014
Approximate running times: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £24.99
The Stuff was written and directed by Larry Cohen who’s other notable film’s as a director include Bone, Black Caesar, Hell Up in Harlem, Got Told me to and Q. Besides directing Larry Cohen has also written many well known screenplays most notably, the Manic Cop Films, Phone Booth and creating The Invaders T.V. series. Key collaborators on The Stuff include cinematographer Paul Glickman (The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann, The Opening of Misty Beethoven) and composer Anthony Guefen (Alucarda).
At the heart of this horror / comedy is a satire that is deeply rooted in America’s obsession with consumerism. After all the film’s plot revolves around a delicious desert that will kill if you indulge yourself to much and of course everyone who samples this tasty treat falls under its hypnotic trance. Social commentary aside the film’s narrative is fairly straight forward and right from the get go it is clear what side everyone stands on. If there is anything that this narrative is lacking, it would be a more fleshed out back-story for this film’s monster ‘The Stuff’. Thankfully with a film like this more is less.
Content wise there are three clear influences that this film pays homage too. They are, The Blob, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and McCarthyism. Also when discussing this film one must not overlook the importance of the 1980’s, the decade from which this film emerged from. And nowhere is this more evident than the film’s visuals which perfectly encapsulate the look and feel of the decade.
Besides the hilarious faux commercials for ‘The Stuff’ which crop out throughout the film. Other stand out moments in this film include a scene where a young boy tries to flush ‘The Stuff’ down the toilet, only to have it try to climb back out. Another stand pout moments features this film protagonist a former FBi agent named David ‘Mo’ Rutherford and his love interest Nicole, the woman behind ‘The Stuff’ ad campaign. One night while staying in a hotel room they are attacked by ‘The Stuff’ which comes out of the bed and it tries to engulf them. This scene is very reminiscent to a death scene involving a water bed from A Nightmare on Elm Street.
It is not surprising that a film which such an outlandish premise as this one features some really amazing performances. All one has to do is listen to Larry Cohen talk in documentary included with this release and it is easy to see how an actor can flourish working with him. This film is anchored by the superb performance from its leading man Michael Moriarty, frequent collaborator of Larry Cohen’s (they would work together a total of five times). And when it comes to secondary characters the cast is a virtual who’s who, Danny Aiello (Léon: The Professional) in the role of Vickers, one of the men responsible for ‘The Stuff’’, Garrett Morris (‘Saturday Night Live’) in the role of ‘Chocolate Chip’ Charlie W. Hobbs, the ousted CEO of the company that has since become ‘The Stuff’ and Paul Sorvino (GoodFellas) in the role of a paranoid military Colonel who would give Sterling Hayden’s (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) General Jack Ripper, a run for the money.
When it comes to the films of Larry Cohen one can always expect to see something they have never seen before and walk away from the film thoroughly entertained by the events which have just unfolded. And in the case of The Stuff, Cohen has crafted another winner that is sure to delight not only his fans, but those who are just in the mood for some good old fashion satire.
The Stuff comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors look vibrant, flesh tones look accurate, black and contrast level look consistent and strong throughout. Details look crisp, there are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check. Also though there is grain which is present in varying degrees throughout the film. In motion the grain looks much better than it does in screenshots. Overall there is no denying this is the best this film has ever looked on home video.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD Mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have been included with this release. The audio is in excellent shape as dialog comes through with crystal clear clarity and everything sounds balanced. Also the sounds robust when its needs too and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 35 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the trailer with an audio commentary with Darren Bousman (Trailers from Hell) and a documentary about the film titled ‘Can’t Get Enough of the Stuff: Making Larry Cohen’s Classic Creature Feature’ (52 minutes 10 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) that includes comments from screenwriter / director Larry Cohen, producer Paul Kurta, actress Andrea Marcovicci, makeup effects supervisor Steve Neill and Kim Newman.
Topics discussed include the origins of the project, special effects, working with Larry Cohen, the cast, the look of the film, critical reaction to the film, how it performed at the box office and their thoughts on the final product. Overall this is a solid documentary that covers all the bases and then some.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a collectable booklet featuring new writing on the film by Joel Harley, illustrated with original stills and promotional materials. Overall The Stuff gets a first rate release from Arrow Video, recommended.