Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Netflix Reviews: "The Stuff"

Yet another interesting gem you can find on Netflix. The Stuff is a fun sort of "invasion" movie that borrows numerous ideas from other films like Invasion of The Body Snatchers, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, and numerous others and mixes them together into a rather satisfying treat. This is a film that reminded me of the days I used to read R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books when I was in elementary school. It has a light heart for such a grim story, much like most of Stine's books, and reminds me a lot of the slime saga of books in the series. If you enjoy horror movies with an extra serving of campy goodness The Stuff is right up your alley.

While the poster may fool you into thinking this is a straight up horror movie it is much more than that. It is a goofy take on the story of Invasion of The Body Snatchers replacing invading aliens with the titular Stuff. There are numerous instances in the movie that are more camp that horror. Such as the inclusion of numerous hilarious advertisements for The Stuff as its popularity grows. However, it is Garrett Morris' "Chocolate Chip Charlie" who practically steals the show with his over-the-top performance which you can't help but love.

The premise is fairly straightforward with numerous sub-plots that come together as the movie progresses. To begin, a group of men discover a strange substance seeping from the ground that they discover is unbelievably delicious. Naturally, they start to sell the substance, which they simply call "The Stuff," and it becomes a national phenomenon. However, not everything about The Stuff is great, as our protagonists soon learn as it begins to gradually take people over.

The protagonists include David, an industrial spy sent to discover the secret behind The Stuff; Jason, a young boy who hates The Stuff for a very good reason; and the small band of people who help them reveal the truth about The Stuff to the world. However, the most memorable character in the movie, I found, was Chocolate Chip Charlie a junk food mogul who is so hilarious and over-the-top he's up there with some of the more memorable loony characters in film and television like Jack Sparrow and Cosmo Kramer.

The horror elements here, while being very 80's, are still fun to watch. The Stuff is a film where the more ridiculous the effects are the better they are. There are numerous effects shots that, while being horrendous, you can't help but enjoy for their clever implementation. There are some better effects in the movie, but not many, and I can't go into them for the sake of spoiling the movie. Needless to say, though, it's fun to see squibs explode that have been loaded with white yogurt instead of blood for a change.

However, it's not all horror and camp here. The Stuff actually manages to examine our culture's obsession with junk food and the ramifications of popularizing substances that, while tasty, aren't exactly good for you. While it doesn't take a genius to really see the subtext it still provides an interesting subject to ponder on as you munch on your bag of Doritos.

While The Stuff may not be appetizing to everyone, it is definitely a treat to watch.

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