Movie Reviews Far Too Late: The Stuff (1985)

Okay, I think I may be the only person in the world who even remembers this film anymore.

Here’s the reason I watched it. In 1985, when I was twelve, this poster and its fellows TERRIFIED me. The body horror and the look of agony and terror on the victims’ faces made me think that this was going to be THE BLOB, a film that completely freaked me out, only worse, because The Stuff was so obviously already inside you… in other words, it was going to be The Blob meets Alien. I didn’t even think of watching it, because if it was ANYTHING like I imagined, I was going to have nightmares.

So, it was on Amazon Prime free last month, and 47 year old me decided to watch The Stuff.

It turns out that twelve-year old me was a MUCH better horror writer than anyone involved with the script of this laughably terrible film. So, by the way, were the poster artists, who did a masterful job of making it look terrifying, right down to the tagline: “Are you eating it, or is it eating you?” In fact, as a writer, I really do not understand how you can miss with this concept, but apparently it goes something like this:

1) You absolutely refuse to acknowledge that anything like the FDA or ingredient lists exist, and that you could totally market “mysterious substance that oozes out of the ground” to the public with no legal difficulty.

2) You don’t ever really acknowledge that anyone infected by The Stuff really suffers pain, or even make it clear whether they die or not. At least once in the film, The Stuff oozes out of a victim’s body, but he gets up and is apparently still controlled by The Stuff. Other times, the Stuff just kills.

3) You don’t really even show that anyone who didn’t voluntarily consume The Stuff can get killed by it.

4) You infect people for completely irrational reasons. One of the most lurid on-screen deaths involves one of the protagonists who lost his ice-cream business because of The Stuff, was always suspicious of The Stuff, has no reason to eat The Stuff… and yet, he shows up infected. I strongly suspect that this happened because he was Black and therefore disposable.

5) On top of all of this, you hire actors that have less chops than high-school leads. When the tagline is finally delivered, at the end of the film, it’s read with all the gusto of the slogan for an antacid.

So please, don’t see this film. It wasn’t worth it. Instead stay tuned for the collaboration I’m negotiating with 12 year-old me to turn this concept into the horror novel it should have been.

3 thoughts on “Movie Reviews Far Too Late: The Stuff (1985)

  1. I own this movie on DVD. I won’t disagree with any of your criticisms, but I will say that there are a few scenes–most of them with the plucky kid character–that are very good.

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