The Stuff (1985) Larry Cohen.
I’ve always enjoyed Larry Cohen’s The Stuff as commentary on consumerism and our addiction to ‘stuff’ that’s just not good for us and no matter how much we are aware of the negative aspects of shopping beyond our means, eating what’s bad for our bodies, acknowledging addictive behavior, etc., we just can’t help ourselves and we do it anyway. That’s the overt message in the film.
In contemplating our behavior under the shadow of Covid, I marvel at how easily we are influenced by the power of propaganda, reacting just as we are expected to as established by the matrix system. I equate this blind following of matrix demands as being absorbed by the system, consumed to the point that we become part of it and our behaviors work on behalf of the system itself. This could be a synopsis of The Stuff and it does describe just what happens to those who consume the deliciously mysterious product.
The Stuff becomes a top priority, it brings families together, they eat it constantly even in the middle of the night—everything else becomes a secondary concern. Consumers of The Stuff take great offense to those who don’t agree with their assessment of it and violence ensues when their Stuff is at risk.
The film plays between addiction and industrial espionage, revealing that everything about the product and its marketing are hazardous to the consumer. I love Larry Cohen’s ability to give us a horror movie that on the surface looks like a modern update of The Blob, but in the process he takes out the industry leaders who promote their poisons and shows us who the real monsters are. The corporate monsters of The Stuff are the equivalent to the pharmaceutical industry and Bill Gates who refuses to have his own children vaccinated, but for decades has been forcing vaccines on the rest of the world—or the designers of Facebook who have publicly stated that they don’t allow their children to use the social media network. The film, as in reality, shows how the controllers determine what’s ‘good’ for us and simultaneously refuse to use their own products. And just as pot dispensaries and liquor stores have been deemed ‘essential businesses’ during this New World Order orchestration of a pandemic, shelves and refrigerators are kept fully stocked of The Stuff and the associated mental programming is achieved through heavy tv and radio spot advertising.
Larry Cohen was more than a genre filmmaker and though his body of work is often dismissed as B-Movie material, there was much more beneath the veneer of exploitation and horror, also the symbolism he includes in his films are entirely by design. One strange inclusion is a perfectly placed inverted pentagram above the main child actor’s head. This boy is the character who evades the cult of the Stuff. He runs from human and inhuman monsters throughout the film and in another scene after destroying a display of the Stuff in a store, he is held down by three men in a position that smacks of occult ritual, they lean into him in bizarre fashion that seems to be alluding to something else, perhaps sacrifice or molestation. And what about cannibalism? I hinted at this above in the review for 1984, but here it presents itself in a more subtle way. The Stuff proves to be a product that takes over our bodies, we are transformed into it and after consumption, it consumes us. Perhaps a roundabout way to cannibalism, but in this transformation, we are consuming ourselves. What is at the dark heart of the Luciferian agenda anyway and I wonder if Cohen was trying to tell us something.
It remains to be seen whether or not a movie like The Stuff can inform and educate us on our own blind behavior and the extent of our exploitation by a system that relies on our ignorance. Recommended.
This review first appeared in the print version of Victims of Cinema. The first 50 reviews can be obtained HERE.