The Gun Shoots Death, The Ice Cream Factory Shoots White Gooey Life (Zardoz/The Stuff)
The weekend before memorial day, a good friend of Leah's got married, and so as my wife attended to her bridesmaidly duties, I was left to hang out in our rather nice hotel room, armed with nothing but my Macbook, a TV-out cable, and a few thumbdrives full of films.
In the annals of eschatological film, there is one film about which I have found surprisingly little analysis. It is universally reviled, its very name turned code for a great old shame in one's past. And yet, none of the internet critics whose angry rantings have become my favorite television genre (Which probably says more about the state of television in 2010 than it does about internet critics) have done a detailed analysis. So far as I know, no one has yet indulged in the ancient and worshipful ritual of the rifftrack for this movie.
It is a film set in a post apocalyptic world, a world where one man dares to stand against the gods themselves, and strike a blow for freedom, and that man... wears a red diaper.That man is Sean Connery, and that movie is Zardoz.
dir. John Boorman
Starring Sean Connery
But we're not actually going to be reviewing Zardoz today. You see, after a promising opening scene, in which a disembodied floating head spoilers the plot for us, and we have an exciting scene in which a flying stone head called Zardoz tells his followers about the relative merits of the second ammendment when compared to those of the free love movement (Zardoz is a Republican), prompting me to realize this film's social relevance: If, in 2010, you find that your political views align closely with a flying stone head which vomits guns, you should perhaps reconsider them.
But then Sean goes flying off in the stone head away from this post-apocalyptic civilization, and the whole thing becomes very cerebral and confusing and dull and, I strongly suspect, takes a stab at ripping off Kubrick, especially right at the end. The whole thing just left me dazed and mumbling "WTF?" continuously for about two hours. Which is, I believe, longer than the actual film.
So, that's about it for Zardoz. There's a few moments coherent enough to be worth mocking, but for my money, it would have been a better bad movie if Zed (That's Connery. Had this review gone the distance, I was hoping to do a sight gag replacing him with other famous Zeds in media, such as Chief Zed from Men in Black, Zeddicus Zul Zorrander from Legend of the Seeker, Zed the guy from Pulp Fiction and Lord Zedd from the Power Rangers) had just stayed in the wasteland and had ribald adventures there. But hey, they can't all be winners. Maybe next time I'll have better luck when I review--
I say there, boy, has the tea party already started?
For those of you not in the know, Naked Zombie Sean Connery is the boss of level 2 of the game Samurai Zombie Nation, an old Nintendo game in which, due to what I can only assume is a misplaced comma, you play not as "Namakubi, the great head of the samurai", but rather as "The head of the great samurai Namakubi". I'm not sure if it was cause or consequence of Naked Zombie Sean Connery's ascendency to memehood, but The Spoony One did a rant about the game, and, coincidentally, that rant was released on my birthday a few years ago. So go watch that if you want more information about this Terrible Old Classic of Eight Bit Gaming, because personally, I never made it past the first stage.Oh crap. It's Naked Zombie Sean Connery. (To Leah) Honey? Have you been letting internet memes in the house?
Now there, boy. I've come to help you review my cinematic masterpiece, Zardoz
Ah. So you're not here to savagely kill me with your battleaxe and then eat my brains?
Please, now, boy. I haven't eaten brains in years. Not since Medicine Man
Glad to hear it. So, if you're not under the control of the evil Darc Seed, then, um... Why are you naked?
Well, why not, lad? I've always been a firm believer in letting them swing free. Except in the Amazon. There's a fish there that will swim right up you. Now, are we going to review Zardoz or not? Have you gotten to the part where they hold a special seminar on my ability to sustain an erection? I had to use my own erection for that scene of course; Viagra hadn't come out yet.
Um, actually Mr. Naked Zombie Connery, I was just telling my readers that I wasn't going to be able to review Zardoz.
It's Sir Naked Zombie Connery, actually, boy. But you can call me Sir Naked Zombie Sean. But why aren't you going to finish my film?
(Looks around for a defensive weapon in case Sir Naked Zombie Sean takes offense) Sir Naked Zombie Sean, uh, do you understand the sort of reviews I do here? I mean, they aren't, generally, especially favorable toward their subject matter.
I know that, boy. I've been around the block. I've seen that show with that Joe and his Tim Servo and Cow.... Mmm... That Gypsy, she was quite the filly.... (shakes head) It's all an affectionate ribbing, I've been to a roast before, m'lad.
Yes... Well... You see, that's the problem.... I just couldn't find anything really good for mocking. It was just... Well, truth be told, there were a lot of parts I didn't really understand. I-- I'm sure you could offer an informative perspective--
Ach, I doubt that, boy. I don't think anyone on the set really knew what was going on in that picture. Of all the films I've worked on, that one was the one with the second highest budget for cocaine.
What was the first?
A Bridge Too Far. I bet you were expecting me to pick one of the silly ones, weren't you, boy?
So anyway, I'm really sorry that I won't be able to review your movie today. It's really great that you'd come here to review it with me and all... My mom really loves your work.
Ah yes, boy. Your mum. She was quite the filly.
Ri-ight. So, um, thanks for coming and all, and I--
Boy, it's just... Well... I did fly all the way out here from Scotland...
You flew here? They let you though airport security with that axe? And naked?
Of course not, boy. I brought my own transport. By the way, do you think it's okay if I park my giant flying stone head at the end of the street?
I'm sure it'll be okay if it's just for a couple of hours.
And it may have vomited up a few assault rifles on your front garden...
You're trying to say that you'd like to review a movie with me, aren't you?
Well, boy, so long as you're suggesting it. You know, I have done quite a few other movies. Highlander 2 for instance
Oh no, I am not reviewing Highlander 2. Leaving aside for them moment the fact that far better critics than me have already done it (Most recently, The Spoony One), I didn't actually think that the movie was all that bad.
Not that bad? Have you been hitting my stash, boy? I'm a senile, randy, reanimated corpse, and I find that turdburger indigestible!
Well, sure, the plot's a little weak and the villians are obnoxious assholes, but it's got a few fun moments.
By god, boy. Planet Zeist?
Y'know, yeah, that was dumb. But look, we're talking about a movie called Highlander, where you, the quintessential Scot, play an Egyptian Prince, with a Spanish name who teaches Japanese Kenjutsu to a Highland Scot played by a Frenchman. Saying you were all really aliens frankly clears a lot of stuff up. And on balance, yeah, I think that a bizarre and outlandish explanation is a lot better than every other Highlander sequel at sidestepping that whole "There can be only one" thing. I remember all my friends saying how great Highlander 3 was because it ignored Highlander 2 -- but you really expected me to believe that at the end of the first movie, he's just, what, mistaken about having won the prize? Dumbasses.
Oh, and besides, I really liked that scene where you punched the globe.
Ah yes, boy. I smashed through that globe like a young girl's maidenhead.
Yes, well, okay. So, no Highlander. We could maybe do Outland, but you'd have to come back in a week or two so I can get it from Netflix.
Sorry, boy. I've got something important to do next week.
Your mum, boy.
I knew it was coming, and yet I had to ask anyway. So, I do have something we could review today -- not one of your films, sorry. But I watched a couple of other films while Leah was at the batchelorette party. There's a shot-on-video horror movie based around some jiggly, trashy-looking women with chainsaws. And there's a science fictiony sort of thing about a white creamy substance which tries to take over the earth... And I am in a lot of trouble either way aren't I?
You know, boy, I once produced a white creamy substance that tried to take over the earth.
And with that, thankfully, it's time for the jump. When we return, Sir Naked Zombie Sean and I are going to go wading hip-deep in the sexually suggestive goo pit that is... The Stuff
dir. Larry Cohen
Starring Michael Moriarty, Paul Sorvino, and Garrett Morris as "Chocolate Chip" Charlie Hobbs.
I'm in a lot of trouble...
We begin our tale, in a sort of not-quite-in-medias-res fashion. We're in a cave. An old man bends down, touches some creamy white goo, tastes it, and declares it very tasty. We will never see this man again, so we will never get a chance to learn what horrible fate befell him. How fortunate that it turned out to only be slowly lethal, instead of instantly lethal.
Now then, my boy, a dark, damp cave filled with a delicious and potent white goo... That reminds me of something...
Look, Sir Naked Zombie Sean, if you're just going to make another "Your Mom" joke, just save it. We've got a lot of bad movie to get through, and, while my readers and I can appreciate the very occasional "Your Mom" joke as a way of harkening back to our grade school days, when you keep doing it over and over again, it stops being funny and just makes you look pathetic
My boy, I'm hurt that you think I'm no better than to just make the same joke over and over. Give me some kind of credit, will ye now?
I'm sorry, Sir Naked Zombie Sean. (Deadpan)I guess I misjudged you.
And, boy, speaking of "doing it over and over"... Your mom.
Damn you, Sir Naked Zombie Sean. Damn you to Naked Zombie Hell. The real Sean Connery wouldn't behave like this. Also, I think he would probably wear pants. Or a kilt at the very least.
Silly boy, there's no real Sean Connery. The man is just an amalgamation of internet memes. I am legion, for we are many. The day is mine!
Moving on then. We take a page from the Moontrap book of segue avoidance, because the sole purpose of that scene was to establish two facts about The Stuff: 1. It Tastes Good, and 2. It bubbles up from underground. Both of these facts will be repeated numerous times in the balance of the movie, making this scene entirely pointless. Now, because the road to get from "Nameless Miner discovers tasty splooge in mine" to the place we want to be for the climax of the movie, we skip ahead in time past all that tedious productization, FDA approval, marketing, testing, the evil coverup that allows evil world-conquering splooge onto the market, how they somehow convinced the entire country to just go ahead and eat a product whose ingredients aren't disclosed and which plainly is made out of a new form of matter not previously know to mankind, and all those kinds of tedious and uninteresting details, and in the next scene, The Stuff is America's hottest new snack product, loved by millions across the country, with absolutely no one noticing its horrific side effects.
Specifically, behind the titles, we cut to a shirtless Not-Wil-WheatonIMDB informs me that this is Scott Bloom, who would go on to play Samantha's boyfriend Jesse Nash in six episodes of Who's The Boss before going on to never be in anything I've heard of ever again, though he is allegedly involved in an Untitled Twilight Zone Project currently in development. He kicks off his bedsheets and protests, for the purposes of foreshadowing, that he's "being eaten alive" by mosquitos.
Not-Wil makes his way downstairs dodging some very strange credits. Danny Aiello is the "Guest Star" in the film, apparently in a very subtle role, as I have no recollection of him in this movie. Not-Wil is "Introducing", and, most bizarrely,, who I assume will be playing a mime.
Amid the production credits, Not-Wil makes it to the kitchen, and decides to look in the refrigerator. There, he catches the antagonist of our film: the tub of dessert food, having been interrupted in what I can only guess was a late night stroll to spy on the milk, is startled by the refrigerator light coming on and scurries back to its tub, in order to make sure it's safely away before Not-Wil's jackass dad appears, berating Not-Wil for being downstairs in the middle of the night. He sends Not-Wil back to bed with a slap on the posterior that looks just a hair too pederastic, and, deciding that there is clearly no reason to be concerned about the lidless and overturned pint cup of The Stuff in the fridge, decides it would be perfectly cool to have a little late-night snack himself.
I've noticed, boy, that you seem to have chosen a film full of white creamy emissions, and shirtless young boys. Are ye trying to tell me something?
Hey, I'm not the one who's naked here. The movie clearly felt that we were getting too close to following this thread of plot, so it abruptly changes tackI love this word. I was like 20 before I discovered that it was "tack" and not "tact", and as a result, for years, I had english teachers "correct" my papers to "tactic", which gives me the warm feeling of schadenfreude to realize that, if nothing else, they were at least wronger than me. For those of you who are also wronger than me, "tacking" is something you do in a sailboat to let you go in opposite direction as the wind is blowing. To do it, you sail at a 45 degree angle into the wind, so you can still make forward progress, then you keep flipping back and forth 90 degrees so that your overall direction of travel is straight into the wind. So "changing tack" basically means "turning, such that you keep approaching the same destination, but from the opposite angle" and shows a horrifying commercial in which some 80s-style starlet vamps about her love of The Stuff and how it is never enough. We are to assume that, in spite of this horrific horiffic advertising campaign, the product continues to sell, thanks to its evil properties.
Ah, boy, she was quite the filly. She couldn't get enough of my stuff, I can tell you.
We cut to the inside of a yacht, where we meet a villainous character who will then proceed to do absolutely nothing again until the end of the film. He explains that within 60 days, The Stuff will go national. Which I guess means that it hasn't already, except that at the end of the movie, it quite clearly has, and Not-Wil's town has it stocked, despite the fact that it isn't the location of the inital product testing. Santa-Sanders is upset because their finest analysts have been unable to determine the chemical makeup of The Stuff. Because, apparently, no one finds it worthy of pants-crapping alarm that there is a food product on the market immune to mass spectroscopy. Not being able to reproduce the process -- not being able to recreate it, I can believe. But not being able to determine its very chemical makeup? What's it made of? Unobtanium? Giant Vulture Feathers?
Santa-Sanders is comforted by one of his hench-lawyers, who has summoned the mysterious Mo Rutherford, an industrial spy, to help them steal the formula for The Stuff. Santa-Sanders is reluctant to get involved with industrial spies, but he finally acknolwedges, in a scene where all the dialogue is very badly looped, to the point that I assume there was a major rewrite after filming was complete, that "I guess we do have to keep the world safe for ice cream."
Here, we introduce our hero, David "Mo" Rutherford, so nicknamed because "Which makes his nickname exactly as clever as S'mores.When people give me money, I always want mo'", and also because irony is a cruel bitch and one day he will look more like Curly. When I was watching this movie in our hotel room, my overwhelming sense was that Mo Rutherford, with his farmboy dumbass-expression and down-home southern drawl looked and sounded basically like a doughier Ben Browder. You can imagine my surprise to discover, upon closer inspection of the credits, that Mo is in fact played by Michael Moriarty. I know, right? It's hard to imagine. But this was before he became a respectable actor, serving as one of the lead characters in the first three hundred seasons of Law and Order, long before even his stint as Harry Potter Sr. in Troll, and back before the worst symptoms of his conditions became manifest...
You see, Michael Moriarty was cursed by fate: as the years wore on, though his goofy features gave way to a rugged sort of elder-statesman kind of thing, and his doughieness was refined, it came at a great cost, for Micheal Moriarty's forehead began to grow at an alarming rate, as I have demonstrated here, using the latest in computer extrapolation:
Sadly, this expansion of his forehead eventually forced him to flee to Canada, where he would go on to write some very unpleasant and controvercial things about Islam, then later announce his intention to run for the presidency of the United States despite the fact that he had by then become a Canadian citizen.
An nameless and otherwise worthless character banters with Mo so that he can backstory us with the fact that they were both in the FBI at some point. The nameless character appears to have just retired to pursue a more lucrative carreer in being a nameless extra in shitty horror-esque movies, whereas Mo was drummed out of the bureau for some unsavory thing he did which will never be revealed or explained.
Colonel Santa and his minions exposition that everyone at the FDA involved with the rush-approval of The Stuff has since resigned, retired, disappeared or died, which leads Mo to suppose that they may have been bought off. It does not occur to anyone that it ought to be pants-crappingly horiffic that a snack food would engage in an elaborite campaign of bribery and corruption in order to fast-track their way through FDA approval. That's like bribing and blackmailing the jury to avoid a speeding ticket. But no, everyone takes it in stride. Their reaction is along the lines of "We must try extreme measures to steal the formula for The Stuff so we can rip it off!" not "Dude, if they're willing to bribe and murder government officials to get FDA approval for their tasty dessert, perhaps we should see if they have ties to, I don't know, The Cybermen?"
Mo proceeds to act all wacky and intimidating to Colonel Santa's cabal of Ice Cream Magnates by quoting bits of the disparaging things they'd said about him earlier in order to demonstrate that he's so completely untrustworthy that he had his prospective employers bugged. He also shows off his skills at ventriloquism, because the movement of his lips has absolutely no relationship to the words coming out of his mouth. Instead of freaking out and having him shot or something, Evil Santa is impressed, and says, "I don't think you're as quite dumb as you appear to be." Mo responds with this movie's best one-liner: "No one is as dumb as I appear to be."
I say, boy, what was that?
Oh, that? That's The Who. I've got this weird condtion. Whenever I say a one-liner, The Who show up and start playing. It's a rare condition. The only people who have it are me, William Petersen, Gary Sinise, David Caruso, and Jimmy Carter.
Carter, you say, boy?
Yeah. He tries to avoid one-liners because of it. Every time he says one, they start playing Pinball Wizard. It's really weird.
But I digress. Mo receives a check from one of Evil Santa's minions, punches the unnamed guy for no particular reason other than that Mo is played by Michael Moriarty and therefore has to work twice as hard as the average actor to convince us he's a badass
But lest we forget the almost entirely unrelated subplot, Not-Wil-Wheaton wakes up the next day and comes down to breakfast feeling a bit nauseated. He's apparently been out sick from school all week, a fact that seems to have little to do with anything, except that his father is pissed at him for having been sick all week. He's also still bitter about him getting up in the middle of the night the previous evening. Because his dad is an asshole. Seriously, who in their right mind would be all like "Rar! How dare you be physically ill! And that insomnia, you're just doing that to spite me, aren't you? Get me my whuppin' belt!"
You young people are all just pansies, boy. When I was that lad's age, my father would regularly flog me with an entire sheep if he caught me sweating on a warm day, and if he thought I was blinking too often, well.. Let's just say that it's unfortunate that a man's not to wear anything under his kilt.
Everything I learn about you fills me with dread, Sir Naked Zombie Sean. Anyway, Not-Wil's brotherPlayed by Scott Bloom's real-life brother Brian Bloom, a far more successful actor, having done a boatload of video game voice work, played the terminator from the 1920s in that episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and appeared in all three CSIs wants some Stuff to go with his breakfast, and even though one normally does not eat dessert foods at breakfast, no one finds this request unusual, and lets him do it. Not-Wil protests that The Stuff is EEEEEEEEEEEVIL, and that it "moves", but his family all laughs at him, so he whacks the open container out of his mother's hand, spraying Stuff all over the faux-wood laminate kitchen cabinets, prompting his mom to yell "I hope these stains come out!", because, apparently, a white gooy substance is liable to leave a stain on sealed and laminated fake wood. While dad fulminates and big brother shrugs mockingly, Mom drops to her knees and cleans the cabinets. Because she is a housewife in a 80s movie, what's really important to her is not that her son just spazzed out over killer dessert foods, but that, to her utter amazement, The Stuff wipes off without leaving a stain. Now now, she's really torubled, because, "Low calories, great tasting, and it doesn't even spot? And he doesn't like it :-(Audible Emoticon!" Because it's one thing to not like a dessert which is simply health and low calorie -- but to not like one which doesn't stain laminates? That's unpossible!
But back to the part of the movie where stuff actually happens. In a Very Sciency-Looking Lab, a younger, cheaper Martin Landau explains that they haven't been able to determine what's in The Stuff. Mo says "Loaded with benign bacteria," I assume because he can't remember his actual line. No one can understand why the FDA doesn't require them to disclose what it's made of, so an unnamed character who I assume is a laywer explains "They're covered by the FDA's Statute of "identities"Audible Air Quotes!, rule. the same "law"Audible Air Quotes! protects Coca-Cola. The secret "formula"Audible Air Quotes! for their "syrup"Audible Air Quotes!." This is the actor's only line in the film, after which I can only assume that the diction police came and took him away to "jail" for using up this scene's supply of acting. As a side effect, Michael Moriarty will deliver the rest of his lines for this scene without moving his lips. I have learned during my research that Michael Moriarty is originall from Michigan. I am going to assume that what we are seeing here is evidence that his Texas accent was entirely added in post. He tells us that, analysis having failed, they're going to have to resort to theft to discover the secret of The Stuff. Which was pretty much established back on the yacht, making this scene entirely redudnant.
We cut now to the filming of a commerical about The Stuff. The entirety of The Stuff's marketing campaing seems to be a series of ads wherein women of slightly higher than average attractivenessthat is, the sort of woman who a Hollywood movie would normally treat as being hideously ugly in fairly conservative swimsuits, wearing full-length fur coats, sachet down a fashion show runway holding containers of The Stuff to Theme From The Stuff. This is for some reason the best ad campaign ever, and it's the brainchild of the female love interest of this film, Nicole, played by a younger, cheaper version of Marilu Henner or possibly Melina Kanakaredes. Mo interrupts her filming to introduce himself, including giving the explanation of his nickname again, which she finds charming instead of repugnant, but then, she makes advertising for a living, so I guess that changes your brain. He claims that he's an oil magnate, planning to buy her ad agency and put her in charge of it, whereupon she promptly tries to prostitute herself to him. I mean this literally: he suggests that they talk over dinner, and she counteroffers that they have dinner via room service in his hotel room.
Ah yes, boy, that Nicole was quite the filly.
You know she's fictional, right?
Look at me, boy: I'm an eight-bit sprite with no kit on.
Touche. But why didn't you do the whole "She's quite the filly" bit about Not-Wil-Wheaton's mom?
Well, boy, I was a bit thrown. All the folks in that family had such soft features, I was afraid I might accidentally pick one of the blokes by mistake.
Wise choice then.
Besides, boy, there's only one MILF for me...
So help me god, Sir Naked Zombie Sean, if you go there, we're turning off this bad movie and watching the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen instead.
So we cut back to Not-Wil, who freaks out in a supermarket, destroying all the Stuff and Stuff Point-of-Sale display he can reach. Other people in the supermarket helpfully stand around and complain about what he's doing until he actually destroys the thing that they are standing next to, and only then make a token effort to stop him. It's only when he'd destroyed the Stuff in the dairy section, the Stuff in the big endcap display, the Stuff on an ordinary shelf, and moved on to destroying the Stuff in a freezer case (The Stuff is apparently best stored at your choice of room temperature, in the refrigerator, in the freezer, or at the Earth's molten core.) that the supermarket security guards finally tackle him to the ground. And apparently gang-rapes him:
We rejoin Mo, who is interviewing the last surviving member of the FDA, who seems weirdly subservient to his angry dog. Mr. Vickers explains that as The Stuff is food, and not a prescription drug, the FDA isn't really in the business of actually checking whether food is safe, so long as it's not ridiculouslt egregiously harmful. He also lets slip that he and his dog are both big fans of The Stuff. Because this is the 80s, where a loving dog owner would feed his dog any old human-food product whose ingredients aren't disclosed, knowng full well that many delicious snack food items are actually unhealthy for dogs. Vickers, despite acting really incredibly obviously like he's hiding something, especially when Mo mentions that all the chemists who worked on The Stuff have died, is very helpful and gives Mo all his files and the location of the town where initial testing was done. Mo finds that vickers has a huge stockpile of The Stuff in his dining room, and beats a hasty exit. Once he's gone, Vickers rushes off to placate his increasingly angry dog with another hit of warm delicious creamy goodness. One segueway later, Vickers is on the floor, frantically trying to make a call on his unplugged phone, but the dog rushes upstairs, apparently plugs the phone in again, and then rips the cord out of the wall. As Vickers tries to protest that he'll buy more Stuff, having apparently eaten the entire three cases he had before the scene change, the dog vomits up some Stuff, then playfully licks him to death.
I think we're meant to assume the dog savagely tears his throat out, boy.
Please. He quite clearly is just playfully licking him.
It's called suspension of disbelief, boy. Look it up.
I am reviewing a terrible horror movie with the help of a video game character who looks like a Scottish actor. I think my belief is suspended just fine. Mo fails to meet someone he was expecting outside a Stuff restaurant, but he never mentions who or what he wanted to meet him for, and instead drives off to the town of Stater, where The Stuff was first tested. There, he meets Garret Morris, who plays Chocolate Chip Charlie, former CEO of the dessert company which now sells The Stuff. The town is largely abandoned, the only two remaining denizens acting weird and using weird turns of phrase which imply that they are possessed by some external intelligence. The local postman sneaks off and vomits up a bunch of The Stuff, which in turn runs away in a visual effects extravaganza which I'm not going to show you because at this rate, we'll be lucky to make it to act three. Despite it being long gone before Charlie and Mo break down the door, Mo somehow still sees the creature, and the two give chase, before being run off by zombified townspeople. The Stuff, in this scene (but not later) has direct control over its victims and seems intelligent, and uses them to thwart the threat of exposure which Mo represents (but not earlier with Vickers). Also, it turns its victims heads into papier mache filled with... Leaves.. They escape to a nearby diner, where Mo gives Charlie the name of a contact at the FBI to get in touch with regarding their suspicions and they part company. What Mo doesn't know is that, despite her having said that they don't, the Diner actually does have The Stuff in its freezer! The fiends! The next day, Mo is almost run down by a The Stuff van, which is like an ice cream van, but it plays the theme from Jaws. So. The Stuff is a huge organized mind-controlled conspiracy, and yet it affects few enough people that no one else has noticed that there might be something just a tad EVIL about it?
Mo meets with the owner of The Stuff company, and we reveal that... He's not a Stuff Junkie. Nope. He's just an ordinary businessman. That huge conspiracy? The sthing where The Stuff is actively trying to take over the world? Well, not really. The guy who runs the company just knows that it's highly addictive and turns a certain percentage of those who eat it into mindless zombies, and he's cool with that. Mo threatens to kill him, he threatens to hire Mo. Mo takes the bribe, because he is unscrupulous, but also continues his investigation of The Stuff. He rejoins Nicole, who is heartbroken to learn that her advertising skills have been twisted to evil, and suggests that he call Ralph Nader. Now, I would totally be down with this movie turning into "Ralph Nader Saves The World", but it turns out that Mo's speckled past gives him no credibility with pretty much anyone.
Martin Landau tells Mo about Not-Wil-Wheaton's escapades in the grocery store, and Mo, for no discernable reason, decides that he needs to meet with this boy. He's in his room, watching a Very 80s Commercial for The Stuff, which is full of basketball and break dancing and graffitti and big hair. In the background, a trailer for Nightline mentions that all around the country, there's been an epidemic of people disappearing, though no one seems especially interested. Not-Wil goes downstairs and discovers that his family has thrown out all the food in the house, except for The Stuff, which they now insist is the Only Food We Need, and ONE OF US ONE OF US. Dad points out that "benign bacteria" is alive in yogurt, and yeast is alive in bread, and milk comes from a cow's behind, and honey comes from a bee's behind, and don't get me started on toothpaste. Dad even believes Not-Wil that The Stuff moves, but he thinks this is no big deal, as other microorganisms also move, just, y'know, microly. When he still refuses to see the light of The Stuff, his family restrains him and acts alternately Stepford-Smiley and Faculty-Angry at him for not eating his Stuff. He's dismissed to his bedroom until he eats it, which leads to the afforementioned shaving cream scene, where Not-Wil replaces the contents of his pint container with shaving cream, then eats it in front of his family.
He comes back downstairs to find them havign given up staring at their beloved Stuff stockpile and gone back about their own business. Everyone is a bg happy family, Mom reminding them not to read at the diner table, brother musing about hte fact that they don't need to sleep any more, which Dad attributes to "eating properly." The ruse lasts about thirty seconds before Not-Wil starts to get sick from eating shaving cream, and makes a break for it. By an amazing coincidence, Mo arrives just as Not-Wil is running from his family and picks him up. The family gives chase, but the instant Mo mentions how much energy they have, they seem to get bored and give up. Not Wil throws up in Mo's car, and they drive to the airport, where Mo, Not-Wil, and Nicole fly to Georgia. The flight takes until lunchtime the next day apparently.
Posing as Nicole's "male secretary" as she does some background work for the next batch of Stuff commercials, Mo and Nicole infiltrate the Stuff factory. On the plane, a character who I'd seen before, but can't for the life of me remember who he was appears, and we get the most unintentionally porntastic image in this whole unintentionally porntastic movie (see left) as the pilot is splooge-faced to death by a pile of The Stuff.
You know, boy, that's how they originally intended to kill off Jill in Goldfinger. They had to change it in the final print, of course. The fellow who played Goldfinger couldn't produce the goods in sufficient quantity. I offered to play the part myself, of course, but they were concerned the audience might think Bond had done the deed himself.
Every time you speak, a little of my soul catches on fire. Not-Wil escapes the wall of evil white goo that pursues him, finding by remarkable coincidence the very mining quarry where The Stuff was first discovered. He foolishly decides to hide inside the tank of a tanker truck. A passing employee mentions that "It's been coming down every night," prompting me to suspect that there was a draft of the script where The Stuff was from outer space. Since it's apparently night time now, Mo and Nicole are redirected to the nearby Bates motel where the Stuff corporation has thoughtfully booked them a room.
Later that night, Mo watches Nicole's advertising genius in the form of a commerical which shamelessly plagarizes the "Where's the beef?" ad campaign. Nicole is dressed only in his shirt. In his comments on Superman II, Adam Cadre speaks to the power of the imagery of a woman wearing a man's shirt and little elseReader's Digest Version: 1. It's a form of her staking her territory. 2. It's a form of him claiming her as his territory. 3. Because womens' bodies and mens' bodies be different, yo, it hangs differently on her than on him, and this is h. a. w. t., and the take-home message here is that if a woman turns up wearing a man's shirt and no pants, this is movie shorthand for "They just did it." Now, it might have been nice had there been some actual build-up to this, some sense of them caring about each other or developing some kind of relationship. Or heck, even having them go though a tense and dangerous situation together and needing the release of a quick white goo exchange to relieve the tension, but Nicole hasn't actually had anything horiffic happen to her yet. But the pillow-talk is cut short when the pillow explodes, disgorging a mound of shaving cream which seems determined to face-rape Mo. Nicole helpfully sets him on fire. I can't tell if this helps. Mo frees himself, then another Stuff-zombie rushes in shouting "I'll kill you! Leave us alone!", but for some reason, the bed decides to murder him, disgorging a mountain of white goo which pins him to the wall and kills him:
No. Wait. That's the sex scene from Scary Movie. What actually happens is this:
I'm told that this scene was an homage to the scene in A Nightmare On Elm Street where the kid gets eaten by his bed. Not seeing it myself. Realizing that it was meant for them, Mo sets fire to the bed, which causes it to deflate for a moment, then go back about its wall-climbing antics, as rental of the turnable-room set was very expensive. Mo and Nicole steal a truck, and follow the tanker containing Not-Wil-Wheaton (Who must be hungry by now as he's been stuck in this airtight tank for about fourteen hours) to the quarry. Which I coulda sworn was where the tanker started out. Anyway, Mo finally arrives at the big reveal: A gigantic lake of The Stuff. This is the thing on which the filmmakers really shot their VFX -- y'know what, I'm classier than that. I'm not going to go there.
Mo decides to steal a tanker full of Stuff, thinking this will be the evidence he needs. I'm not quite sure how that works, since all he'll have is a truckload of The Stuff. The Stuff is commercially available, and we've established that analysis of it doesn't reveal the evil truth. It still ends up being a good idea, as he rescues Not-Wil. Also, at some point, he plants explosives along the quarry wall to cover his escape. After a pointless scene where Nicole is nearly killed by a Stuff Zombie before Mo runs him over, and a pointless scene with a cop who Mo beats up, and a pointless scene where Not-Wil points out a small town up ahead, Mo says he'll bypass it, then drives straight through it, we have a pointless scene where Mo explains that The Stuff controls all the nearby towns, so they'll instead head to a big city, where they can't have complete control.
So they go to a castle out in the middle of nowhere. Obviously. This castle is the stronghold of Colonel Spears, a crazy militia type played by Paul Sorvino (It is rumored that Mira Sorvino has an uncredited cameo as one of the factory workers, but I haven't been able to pick her out). Mo convinces Spears that The Stuff is a communist plot, which leads us into the last third of our movie, wherein Spears's militia saves the day. See, this is the 80s, when it was okay to have an insane right-wing backwoods militia be the heroes of your movie, rather than being the villains whenever you want to do a plot about terrorism but are afraid of the backlash if you reinforce certain unpleasant stereotypes about links between various ethnicities and terrorism. The employees flee, and Paul Sorvino is confident that his fighting men will easily defeat them since "The US Army's never lost a war." Not-Wil, havign a certain quota of cognative dissonance to fill, stops to say "What about Vietnam?", to which Paul Sorvino answers, "We lost that war at home, son." They find all the employees dead and hollowed out, and everyone makes a mad dash to escape a wave of Stuff, which is in the process of making a break for it. Paul Sorvino wisely decides to just leave the Stuff alone and go to Atlanta, where he can use the radio station he owns to broadcast a warning about The Stuff. Theyfly to georgia, then his army deswcends on a couple of cabs, and takes them into town. Upon arrival, he orders his men to, "Pay the drivers. Issue a ten percent tip. Get a cash receipt."
Reenter Chocolate Chip Charlie, who glosses over where he's been, in spite of some obvious second unit inset footage of Mo mentioning that he never did hear anythign from the FBI. Charlie wants to deliver the warning himself, and Paul Sorvino agrees, but is reluctant, because Charlie is "colored" and therefore is liable to break into "the commie party line." Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!
But the racist asshole's suspicions are proved valid when Chocolate Chip Charlie reveals himself as a Stuff zombie and tries to disgorge his white slime into Nicole's face. She's not into that, of course, so instead, the white goo, as always, decides it would rather wrap itself around a young boy, and goes after Not-Wil-Wheaton instead. Fortunately, Mo breaks a window, cuts an electrical cord, and, in the world's worst process shot, electocutes The Stuff. Which, for the sake of argument, we'll say The Stuff is weak against. I think they've been going for a "Fire kills it" thing, perhaps to contrast with The Blob, but I'm not really sure; they tried setting it on fire in the hotel room and it's not clear that actually did anything to The Stuff.
With The Stuff dispatched, Paul Sorvino makes his radio speech. And the nation all takes the word of this crazy militia-man. As a montage shows, across the nation, people destroy The Stuff stores, hold massive The Stuff bonfires, and riot in chicago. Nicole does a PSA explaining how the government has stepped up to help, and also mentions that the loss-of-life was in the thousands.
The final scene begins with Mo entering an office. I'm not sure whose, but based on the bust by the door, I'm going to assume it's Donald Pleasance's office. The owner of the Stuff company is in this office, and he brags to Mo about how, in spite of blowing up their quarry, he can always get more Stuff, as it bubbles up through the ground. Because after this, people will be sure to continue to trust any old addictive desert product whose ingredients aren't disclosed. Mo discovers to his shock that Evil Santa is now in league with the Stuff guy (Seriously, does he even have a name?). They're preparing a new marketing campaign for "The Taste", a product which is 88% ice cream, 12% The Stuff. They're sure, despite having done no research, that it'll be enough to make it highly addictive without being enough to let it control your mind. Because THe Stuff was all about mind control, and not about hollowing you out and using your body like a skin-suit. Mo summons in Not-Wil, whose parents and brother have conveniently died off-screen, and also pulls out a gun. Not-Wil produces a crate of The Stuff, and, in the world's worst reenactment of the last scene of Hamlet, he makes them choose whether to suck down one of his delicious bullets, or eat a whole case of The Stuff. In front of the kid. Our hero!
Thanks to the time compression in this movie, in seconds, our two villains are surrounded by empty cartons, giving Mo a chance to toss off the tagline of the film: "Are you eating it, or is it eating you?"
But wait! There's a tag. A very young Patrick Dempsey and some other guy who I recognize but can't place buy a crate of Stuff on the black market, setting up for the inevitable sequel: The Stuff 2: Insemination.
You know, boy, there was talk back in those days about a series.
You don't say. More Stuff Zombies?
Ach, no, boy, that fad ran its course. With that much white goo, they'd have never been able to get a prime-time slot. No, the plan was to follow the adventures of Mo and the little effeminate boy as they travelled across the country in his Ford Econoline Van, facing off against thousands of preturnatural menaces that had been exploited by advertising executives.
I see. So, the same sort of weird plot holes where it's not really clear whether the Stuff is actually intelligent or if it's really just the human businessmen that are exploting its mind-altering properties?
Now you've got it, my boy. And as they traveled the country, Mo would bed a new woman in every town, and he would teach the wee lad all the fine points of extortion, blackmail, and industrial sabotage. They sent me a script treatment to see if I'd be interested in a guest spot as Mo's estranged father.
Oh? Would you have done it?
It turned out they weren't willing to meet my demands, boy. It's not just about money you know. I simply can't perform my craft with less than the number of whores stated in my contract.
Of course not.
Well then, boy, I've enjoyed this review with you, even if you are a great nancy who likes movies where young lads with their shirts off being covered in foamy white fluid.
And your mum's a whore!
Damn you Sir Naked Zombie Sean!
Oh, don't take it so hard, boy. Everyone's mum's a whore. I'd best be going now. It's a bear finding parking for a giant stone head after eight.
Sir Naked Zombie Sean, before you go... I was just kind of wondering if you could... Well... (whispers)
(sigh) Oh very well, boy...