The Stuff

Blu-Ray Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: David Graham

Read David Graham's film review of The Stuff

The Stuff oozes onto dual format Blu-ray and DVD in a surprisingly pretty transfer – it’s amazing how much some of these low-budget schlock-fests scrub up for the premium format, this presentation showcasing Cohen’s largely unappreciated visual sense and giving an appropriate sheen to its satire of surface appearances. As with Arrow’s gorgeous Frankenhooker release, the spit’n’polish actually increases the fun to be had, with the dated but often ingenious effects showing in greater detail to be better admired or lovingly scoffed at. Audio is as clear as you'd like but was never this film's strong point in the first place, the OTT score as unmemorable as ever. The film also features subtitles for the hard of hearing.

The main – and substantial – bonus feature here is a 52-minute retrospective feature, covering many areas of the film’s conception, production and Cohen’s career in general. Kim Newman pops up to give appreciative insight into what distinguishes Cohen’s fare from his B-movie brethren, the director himself describing his own style as ‘jazzy’, following his muse and indulging his whims in ways that can frustrate his more staid colleagues. His no-nonsense approach is also addressed - like Abel Ferrera, he obviously didn't suffer fools gladly, but his commitment to his ideas and practices comes across admirably.

Copy picture

Michael Moriarty is conspicuous by his absence – a shame given he’s featured on previous bonus features for the likes of Cohen's Masters Of Horror episode Pick Me Up – but co-star Andrea Marcovicci has some amusing anecdotes about his improvisational ‘method’. She also relates how refreshing it was not to be playing the victim for once, and describes Paul Sorvino as a warm and hilariously musical human being, bursting into arias at any given moment.

Also included is the brilliant original trailer, which works as a piece of satire in itself. Snobs may surmise they’ve seen the whole film just from watching the trailer, it’s that epic – a classic piece of Eighties marketing complete with an iconic sing-off (‘You have been warned!’). The trailer’s pedigree is proven by an affectionate commentary from Mother's Day director Darren Bousman, whose Repo: The Genetic Opera could be argued to bear The Stuff's inspiration in some ways.

As always with Arrow, there's also a lovingly designed booklet with new writing from Joel Harley, which stretches Cohen's vision to pretentious extremes - linking it to the vampire genre and suggesting a non-existent sexual undercurrent - but he does a good job of listing Cohen's influences. He goes unnecessarily overboard in discussing other foodie-horror - how the hell do you get from Se7en to Pink Flaminogs in the space of a paragraph? - and there's not enough about Cohen or the film itself, but it's an entertaining read that will surely give you food for thought (sorry) in terms of your next watch.

The customary reversible sleeve rounds out the package, Graham Humphreys' classic 80s art trumping the new effort as usual. It's not one of Arrow's best releases, but it does the film proud where it counts, and is thoroughly recommended to anyone with a taste for the sharper end of the B-movie spectrum.

Reviewed on: 10 Mar 2014
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The Stuff packshot
When a dessert starts taking on a life of its own, it spells trouble for the local populace.

Region: 0

Ratio: High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the film, 1.85:1

Sound: Original 1.0 Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)

Extras: New High Definition restoration of the film from a brand new 2K scan of the original camera negative, Can’t Get Enough of The Stuff: Making Larry Cohen’s Classic Creature Feature, Introduction and trailer commentary by director and The Stuff fan Darren Bousman, Original Trailer, Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin, collectors' booklet

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