Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Stuff (1985)

An old man working in a mining plant discovers a pile of bubbling white goo on the ground. Naturally, he sticks his fingers into the goo, stares briefly, and begins to lick them clean. Some time later (literally the very next shot), there's a container of "The Stuff" in a family's refrigerator, so I'm assuming the old man marketed the white crap and sold it. I don't know because nothing is explained. A ten-year old child sees the "stuff" move in his fridge and decides to go ape shit on a grocery store with a baseball bat, destroying every container of "stuff" he can find, because that is the only logical thing to do. Somehow, a southern business man discovers "the stuff" can control people's minds and make them attack people who don't eat the stuff, so he teams up with a female advertising professional, the ten-year old boy, and a racist militia leader to take down the stuff.

Try and describe the plot better. I dare you...

1. Segways are virtually nonexistent in this movie. Time passes without any acknowledgement from the characters in the film. One minute, the characters are talking in a diner when suddenly, they are several weeks into the future. I warn you, do not try to keep up with the timeline for you will only confuse yourself. Several months pass in the short period from the very first scene to the second scene, without letting you know. I don't even know how to describe it, but I'll give it a shot. It's like a rabid badger was let loose in the editing room and after tranquilizing it, the studios decided to use the finished product instead of re-shooting the entire movie. That's the only explanation I can come up with for how this film passed as acceptable.

2. The acting by the main character is laughable at best. He has the same nonchalant attitude toward every situation - running from evil yogurt-possessed people, staring down the rifle of the independent ex-military militia, or buying a newspaper from the local stand. He reminds me of a cowboy from those old TV shows, perhaps because of his thick southern draw, cowboy boots, and general lazy disposition toward any given situation. With the poor editing, it's not clear he is the hero, let alone the main character of the movie, and what an odd main character to have. Usually, the main character keeps the viewers enthralled with the film, but this guy has the exact opposite effect. I mean, he almost makes you not care about people being possessed by evil yogurt - "I know, people need to be made aware... ehhhhh... so let's get down to the station." said with a smirk and nearly winking. Yeah. Riveting.

3. Ever heard of plot? There's no explanation to where "the stuff" came from aside from the old man discovering the boiling pile of white shit in the beginning of the movie, although the owner of the stuff company explains it is popping up out of the earth all around the world. So I guess we are supposed to believe it is a naturally produced organic edible material that controls people's minds and we've never discovered it until now. What about the several months or years that passed between finding the stuff and having it sold on every shelf in every store? Was no one affected during that time? Did no one notice it move until now? If all it wants is to be eaten, with no given purpose or goal, is it really that harmful of a substance? Well, yeah I guess, considering it leaves the body of whomever has eaten it nothing but a hollow shell. The entire time I just wanted something... anything... to MAKE SENSE.

4. Holy racism, Batman! The first black actor we see is the comedian Garrett Morris whose name in this movie is "Chocolate Chip Charlie" (I wish I was kidding). He has a brief role in the beginning of the movie and is quickly dismissed. Okay, I can deal with that. Later, the only other black actor we see is a taxi driver who is verbally assaulted by the militia leader for having a "liberal agenda" and is told to shut up and drive. Strike two. Finally, near the end of the film Chocolate Chip Charlie returns to assist the cowboy in informing the general public about the evil yogurt, when the militia leader proclaims that the "colored man" can speak as long as he doesn't use "code to spread his communist plot". Wow. Strike three. Completely unnecessary and immediately took me from enjoying a horror-ble movie to shaking my head in disappointment.

5. Between inappropriate close-ups, terrible acting, a poorly portrayed timeline and an inability to keep the viewer abreast of what the hell is going on, it is abundantly obvious the movie was run on equal levels of shittiness in both editing and directing. You kind of get a sense of what the writer was going for - some message about mass consumerism and the idiotic general public being force fed sugar-coated lies wrapped up in a pretty container, but that message is merely a shadow behind awful casting, shitty directing, chaotic editing and plot (which, let's face it, is about naturally produced killer yogurt).

In closing, this movie is an absolute joy to watch for the sheer clumsiness and overall confusion. It's bloody, gory, disgusting, and doesn't make any damn sense. Perfect for a light-hearted movie night. It's not scary in the least, but it will definitely leave you entertained.

 2 out of 4

Although not being the least bit scary, the film definitely deserves some credit for originality and entertainment value.

Cheers and goodnight.

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