The Stuff Blu-ray Review
A cheap looking splatter flick given more credence due to a satirical edge running through out
The Stuff Blu-ray review
It’s white, delicious, has no calories, moreish and you can’t get enough. It also controls you and consumes you from the inside. It’s The Stuff.Larry Cohen’s horror comedy hit the screens smack in the middle of the eighties, a decade dedicated to excess, expansion, corporate greed and the standing philosophy of more is better. Although the film really is nothing more than a cheap (and it is cheap) looking, splatter flick, it contains a great deal of scathing satire aimed squarely at corporate America of the time, and, indeed, is still quite relevant today. The story tells of a gloopy white liquid which seeps out of the ground which is found to be delicious and as such is marketed as a dessert with spectacular results, meaning the yoghurt and ice cream companies suffer terrific losses.
So much so they resort to corporate espionage to find out about it and the investigation discovers something far more sinister than industrial corruption. The stuff is actually a living organism that eats it’s hosts, controls their minds and is hell bent on taking over! Cohen directs with a furious pace, keeps up the tension, comedy and splatter, all the while taking a swipe at the country that was, in essence, doing exactly the same thing with banking. However, all the good is balanced by the cheap nature of the film, its effects are shoddy at times, the acting can be hammier than a ham sandwich and the editing chops giving a very patchy, cheap, look. But as a film of its time, it’s priceless.
What is The Stuff Blu-ray Picture Quality
The disc presents a theatrically correct 1.85:1 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG4 codec and is Region locked to B.
Looks like print has been treated with a little respect and the clean-up is pretty good. Detail is well realised baring the somewhat softer focus filming style, with a wealth of features clearly visible. Through from skin texture and clothing weaves, the Stuff, itself, has never looked so foamy, and, indeed, the high definition does show up plenty of matt lines and inconsistences with the makeup and effects. However for the most part the increase in detail out ways the bad.
Colours are quite bright, reds are suitably bold, greens appear nice and lush and blues are reasonably cool. Flesh tones have a very ‘eighties’ hue, natural enough but slightly skewed.
Looks like print has been treated with a little respect and the clean-up is pretty good
Brightness and contrast are set quite well, even if there is the odd fluctuation which either deepens the shadows to an impenetrable black or greys them quite hideously. In some of the darker areas the grain occasionally becomes very prevalent, hiding detail and definition, but this is an artefact of the source not a transfer issue. Blacks never crush and whites never clip, but the contrast seldom gives the picture any real punch or depth, preferring to err on the flat side; typical of the time.
The original print, despite the clean-up, still exhibits damage that manifests as both black and white nicks and pops. This is most prevalent during the opening credits (which incidentally is darker than the rest of the picture) but does become far less of an issue once you are into the film proper. Compression problems were held in check and there were no edge enhancement or posterization issues. On the whole a decent enough picture, just don’t expect miracles.
What is The Stuff Blu-ray Sound Quality
Just the one soundtrack, English LPCM 2.0 mono.The track is clean and clear and free from distortion, hiss and crackle, allowing reference volume if desired. Dialogue, for the most part, is well realised coming across clearly, coherently and sounding very natural; Mo’s drawl is suitably smooth. But the looping is very evident in certain areas, especially the boat scene where the execs are talking about their losses – there is a noticeable lag behind the picture, but it soon catches up. Effects are very limited, though there is a good separation which opens up the sound field. Bass is well layered into the mix and adds some decent punch down low, but don’t expect much more than that, it’s simply not in the track. The score is very well layered and gives the best of the stereo, especially the very catchy ‘Stuff’ advert jingles. The track delivers its information very well and that’s the best you can expect.
The Stuff Blu-ray Extras
Can’t Get Enough of The Stuff: Making Larry Cohen’s Classic Creature Feature – An all new hours’ worth of documentary, retrospectively looking at the film and its production, the themes raised, the satirical edge, the effects and its legacy. Contributions include, but are not limited to, director/writer Larry Cohen, producer Paul Kurta, actress Andrea Marcovicci, effects maestro Steve and writer Kim Newman.
Trailer commentary - By director Darren Bousman who champions the film’s effects and how it inspired his own career.
Reversible sleeve - With original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
Collector’s booklet - Featuring new writing on the film by Joel Harley, illustrated with original stills and promotional materials
Is The Stuff Blu-ray Worth Buying
Larry Cohen’s darkly comical and scathing satirical swipe at corporate America in the mid-eighties is well hidden within a cheap, shoddy looking horror flick but it is there. The Stuff tells of a white gloopy liquid that seeps out of the ground and its marketing as a calorie free dessert that throws the yoghurt and ice cream manufacturers into turmoil when the public abandon their products for this new phenomenon. In the subsequent fight back, the industrial giants employ espionage and deceit to discover how this product is manufactured and marketed, but the retired FBI agent on the trail discovers something far more sinister – the Stuff is a living organism that is feeding off its hosts and has its own desires!
The film is little more than a cheap looking splatter flick, but what gives is more credence it the satirical edge that runs through out. Unfortunately, its cheap nature can’t be hidden, from some poor effects, to bad acting, choppy editing and an overall feeling that the film screams budget exploitation, just without the boobs and gore to back it up. Nevertheless it is a terrific product of its time and on that merit comes recommended.
I wonder if one watch will have you addicted?
Arrow’s Region B locked Blu-ray package is pretty good, boasting a theatrically correct cleaned up picture, that is bright and detailed if still exhibiting a few print defects and variable contrast, and a sound track that gets its information across clearly and coherently. The jewel in the extras is the brand new hour’s worth of documentary going into the film origins and legacy. I wonder if one watch will have you addicted?
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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