The Curator of Schlock #308 by Jeff Shuster

The Stuff

You are what you eat. 

I finally got around to trying Popeye’s chicken sandwich. For those of you living overseas, the Popeye’s chicken sandwich was a bit of a phenomenon over here in the United States. It’s a good chicken sandwich, but nothing worth crashing your car into a drive-thru line for. I’ve tried both mild and spicy. I prefer the spicy. The filet seems too big for the bun, and it’s a decent size brioche bun. Popeye’s has huge wings, too, not those dinky little things you get at KFC. Are they growing monster chickens over at Popeye’s headquarters? I’m concerned. I like me some big wings, but not at the expense of Popeye’s employees being attacked by mutated, oversized chickens.

The Stuff poster

Speaking of dangerous vittles, tonight’s movie is 1985’s The Stuff from director Larry Cohen. It’s a movie about a deadly, sentient confectionary dessert. One night a railroad worker notices some white crap bubbling up from the earth. Naturally, he reaches his hand in and sticks some of it in his mouth. And he thinks it tastes good. And then he thinks he can package it up and sell it to his fellow Americans. Some time later, a new dessert is all the rage in the United States. It’s called The Stuff. It looks like vanilla soft serve and people are eating it up like there’s no tomorrow. The Stuff tastes great, is highly nutritious, and very low calorie.

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But not everyone is buying into the hype. A boy named Jason (Scott Bloom) wants nothing to do with The Stuff because he saw some moving around in the fridge when he got up for a midnight snack. His family doesn’t believe him, and pester him to try The Stuff. Once you get a taste of The Stuff, you’re hooked. The following day, Jason visits a grocery store after school. He’s disgusted by all the people buying The Stuff and wrecks all The Stuff displays. Eventually, he’s subdued. No one listens to his warnings about The Stuff.

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Meanwhile, the heads of various ice cream companies have hired an industrial spy named Mo Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) to find out what he can about The Stuff like what it is and how is it made. They mention that the same laws that protect the secret formula of Coca-Cola protect The Stuff. While investigating, Mo runs into Chocolate Chip Charlie (Garrett Morris), whom I assume is based off of Famous Amos. Charlie is upset that his brothers overrode his authority and sold his chain of chocolate chip cookie outlets to The Stuff Company to be converted into The Stuff shops.

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I wonder if they’ll sell more than one flavor of The Stuff.

Rounding out the investigative party is Nicole (Andrea Marcovicci), an advertising executive in charge of marketing The Stuff that Mo managed to charm into helping him. As the movie progresses, we learn that The Stuff ends up possessing the people that consume it, and The Stuff then consumes them from the inside. This movie reminded me of a cross between The Blob and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I’m sure there’s some social commentary about American eating habits and fads, but I can’t be bothered to go into that now.

I’ve got a hankering for another Popeye’s chicken sandwich. Funny. I’ve already eaten about five of them today.

Jeffrey Shuster 3

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.