The Stuff

The Stuff (1985)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Michael Moriarty, Paul Sorvino, Danny Aiello
Extras: Commentary Track, Theatrical Trailer

When director Larry Cohen and actor Michael Moriarty team up, some people get very nervous, while others rejoice. No matter what, you know that you’re going to get something interesting. This pairing has resulted in ’Q, The Winged Serpent’, ’Return to Salem’s Lot’, ’Island of the Alive’, and ’The Stuff’, which is coming to DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. In the film, ’The Stuff’ is a desert treat that is quickly becoming the most popular confection in the country. It’s low in calories and tastes great, but nobody knows just what it is. Moriarty plays Mo Rutherford (although he’s listed as ’David’ in the credits), an industrial spy who is hired by a rival company to try and learn the origin of ’The Stuff.’ Rutherford soon learns that the stuff is more than just a replacement for ice cream and he is soon joined by an ad exec (Andrea Marcovicci) a young boy (Scott Bloom) and the military (led by Paul Sorvino) in trying to stop the sweet, gooey substance which has a life of its own. ’The Stuff’ is silly fun as Cohen satirizes the way fads sweep America. The film is fast-paced and you know what stunt Cohen is going to pull next. The special effects seem very dated, but keep in mind that in the days before CGI, living yogurt wasn’t an easy thing to bring to the screen.

’The Stuff’ is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer and is letterboxed at 1.85:1. Given the age and low budget of the film, the picture is surprisingly crisp and clear. There are some infrequent defects from the source print visible and a slight amount of grain here and there, but overall this film has come through the digital transfer process looking very good. Cohen shot this film in a very natural style, although there are some moments with extreme darkness or flashy colors. For the most part, the colors and brightness are fine, although there are some moments where the image seems a bit dim. There are no obvious complications from compression or artifacting. The audio mix on ’The Stuff’ is a Dolby Digital Mono, which gives adequate sound and clear dialogue, with no audible hiss.

The DVD contains an audio commentary by Larry Cohen, which is very entertaining. As would be expected, Cohen pulls no punches in talking about the production of the film, the cast, and his work. (The Teamsters story is a good one). The theatrical trailer for the film is also included and it is letterboxed at 1.85:1.