Are you eating it or is it eating you?
"Just can't get enough... of The Stuff!"The Stuff
— Commercial jingle for The Stuff
is a 1985 Horror movie directed, written and executive produced by Larry Cohen
about a snack food that is actually a living, mind-controlling
, addictive... stuff
. It also apparently hollows out its victims
and turns them into extremely fragile puppets
. The movie is something of a satire about consumerism
, with the world needing to be saved from a corrupt junk food empire.
The runaway success of The Stuff starts to cut into the profits of ice cream companies, so they hire David "Mo" Rutherford to do some industrial spying. He slowly uncovers that The Stuff's producers have a lot of secrets, and people have all moved to a single town to produce it
. With the help of a "Chocolate Chip Charlie", a former snack food mogul and martial artist, they discover the plot to export the parasitic monster
to the world, and stop it with the help of a retired Colonel and his personal militia.
There's also an almost completely unrelated plot thread about a small kid who sees The Stuff moving and flat-out refuses to eat it, despite the increasingly creepy demands of his family that he do so. He flips out and destroys a grocery store trying to get rid of The Stuff, and for some reason the main cast comes and inducts him into the resistance after seeing a story about them in the news.
This film provides examples of:
- Angry Guard Dog: Inverted in that the dog immediately takes to the visiting Mo, while its owner is terrified of it. Made funny by the fact that the "angry" is supplied by dubbed in growling and barking (from the wrong breed of dog) and the camera cutting out its wagging tail as much as possible.
- Assimilation Plot: What the Stuff wants.
- Attack of the Killer Whatever: Marshmallow cream, by all appearances.
- Brand X: Oddly, the titular monster.
- Black Dude Dies First: While Chocolate Chip Charlie doesn't technically "die" until he shows up again at the end of the film, he's the only member of the anti-Stuff team to end up getting turned into a Stuffie, and it's implied this happened fairly early on in the film.
- Blob Monster: The Stuff is occasionally this, though it prefers to appear in human hosts.
- Body Horror: The Stuff tends to hollow out it's victims. It's also fond of massively distorting their bodies when it comes out of them.
- Catch Phrase: David "Mo" Rutherford.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Mo and the kid forcing the heads of the company that sold the Stuff to eat several pints of it at gunpoint until the cops show up.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: All of the food executives (except Charlie), and especially Fletcher. Fletcher in particular knew the stuff was pure evil and was smart enough not to eat it himself, but was still fine with distributing it to the world.
- Downer Ending: Despite all attempts to stop distribution of the Stuff, the film ends with several people addicted to it smuggling many containers of it away. The Stuff is still out there, with the strong implication that it can't be stopped now.
- The Eighties: The commercial shoot is nothing short of amazing—the hair, the music—the everything.
- Fashion Show: An ad shoot for The Stuff is like this.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Ads for this movie famously treated the Stuff as though it were an actual product available in the real world.
- Functional Genre Savvy: The characters figure out they're in a movie about zombie-making, mind-controlling slime rather quickly with a minimum of obvious evidence.
- Going Fur a Swim: The ad shoot mentioned above.
- Ice-Cream Koan: "Well, everybody has to eat shaving cream once in a while."
- Impossibly Delicious Food: Played for horror.
- It Came from the Fridge: Not quite since it was evil before it got there, but the scene where the kid finds some moving around in invokes it.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: "Chocolate Chip Charlie" bears a strong resemblance to Wally Amos, the creator of Famous Amos cookies.
- Made of Plasticine: The "Stuffies" break apart rather easily when punched.
- May Contain Evil: Boy howdy.
- Meat Puppet: The Stuff hollows out it's victims and can leave them hollow shells laying around when it's done with them.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Mo uses it on his job.
Ice Cream Executive: Well, it seems you're not as dumb as you appear to be.
Mo: No one is as dumb as I appear to be.
- Only Sane Man: Jason.
- Pretty in Mink: The furs worn by the ladies in the ads.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: The Colonel has an obvious beef with black people, and the film doesn't gloss over it which is striking given the film's otherwise light tone. Granted, it seems to be less the traditional racial animus and more his perception that all black people are liberal communists.
- Puppeteer Parasite: The Stuff initially focuses on getting the infectee devour more of it. When it reaches critical mass within the victim, it moves on to forced recruitment, organized distribution of the Stuff and finally plain aggression against anyone not infected with the Stuff.
- Right Wing Militia Fanatic: The Colonel is probably a parody.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Stuff apparently bubbles up from the center of the Earth.
- It also comes sealed in a convenient ice cream tub.
- Sex Sells: The ad shoot.
- Skewed Priorities: Spears' interrupts his men's charge through the streets of Atlanta to pay and tip the cabbies, and get receipts.
- Sniff Sniff Nom: Pretty much how the movie starts.
- Unintentional Period Piece
- Wham Line: Mo says it all.
Mo: Are you eating it? Or is it eating you?
- X Meets Y: The Blob meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers.