[UK] The Stuff (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

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“The Stuff” is the new dessert taking supermarket shelves by storm. It’s delicious, low in calories and – better still – doesn’t stain the family carpet… What’s not to like?! Well, for a start it has a life of its own, and we’re not talking friendly live bacteria…

Young Jason seems to be the only one who doesn’t love “The Stuff” – in fact he won’t go anywhere near it, after having seen the pudding crawling around the fridge one night. What’s more, everyone who eats The Stuff has started acting really weird… Now, teaming up with wise-cracking industrial saboteur “Moe”, Jason must put a stop to The Stuff and the organisation behind it or face a gooey, gloopy demise.

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“The Stuff” arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video with a brand new 1.85:1 1080p high definition transfer taken from a 2K scan of the original camera negative.

The following exert has taken from the booklet included with the BD – “The Stuff” has been exclusively restored by Arrow Video for this release. The original 35mm negative was scanned in 2K resolution on a pin-registered Arriscan, and the film was graded using the ‘Nucoda Film Master’ colour grading system. Restoration work was carried out using a combination of software tools and techniques. Thousands of instances of dirt, scratches and debris were carefully removed frame by frame, damaged frames were repaired, and density and stability issues were improved. Throughout the restoration process, care was taken to ensure that the film’s original texture, details, grain structure and soundtrack remained unaffected by digital processing.

As soon as the film started I must admit I was pleasantly surprised at how impressive the picture was. Although the picture is a little on the softer side, detail is good showcasing good facial details, hair lines and clothing details. Both indoor and outdoor scenes also look very good looking natural, bright and vivid in places. Although the movie mainly contains day time scenes, the night time and darker scenes that do appear in the movie are also decent, with good black levels that do not produce much digital noise. A standout for me which popped off the screen was the pink neon light for “The Stuff” signs that appear throughout the movie. Skin tones also appear natural. As the above exert explains, there is a nice healthy grain structure that has been left on the transfer implying that little to no digital noise reduction has been used. The odd dirt scratch and score still remains on the print, but in my opinion this isn’t a bad thing.

A fine transfer for the Blu-ray debut of “The Stuff” which Arrow should be more than happy with.

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Contrary to the original press release for “The Stuff”, the audio track on this release is actually an English 1.0 LPCM mono soundtrack, as opposed to the English LPCM 2.0 track that was original advertised.

Being a 1.0 track, everything is fed through the centre speaker, but surprisingly this worked very well. Obviously the track is confined to the one channel and is restricted in what it can produce, but everything from dialogue, sound effects and the score seems to be balanced very well within the track. Dialogue is replicated naturally with good clarity and is never lost within the track. The film’s score and sound effects all come flying out of the one speaker, all at the same time but it does work.

There’s no surround here at all, no LFE and as said above the track is very restricted in what it can do. It would’ve been nice to hear the LPCM 2.0 track to see just how different it would be but at the same time the LPCM 1.0 mono track was actually half decent. English SDH subtitles are also included.

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“The Stuff” Blu-ray comes with the following extras –

* ‘Can’t Get Enough of The Stuff: Making Larry Cohen’s Classic Creature Feature’ – Documentary featuring Larry Cohen, producer Paul Kurta, actress Andrea Marcovicci, Steve Neill (mechanical makeup effects) and Kim Newman (HD, 52 mins)
* Introduction and trailer commentary by director and The Stuff fan Darren Bousman (2 mins)
* Original Trailer
* 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
* DVD of the film

The standout feature here is the 52 minute making-of documentary that has been made for the Blu-ray release of “The Stuff”. Going into details of how the movie came to be, how Larry Cohen wanted to ‘throw the consumerism back’ into the advertising companies faces by making “The Stuff”, looking at the FX used in the movie and more. It’s a very good comprehensive documentary that is very welcomed on the disc. Whilst it’s not the biggest list of extras compared to most of Arrow’s releases, the documentary is the ‘meat and veg’ of the release, and the addition of the booklet included in the case compliments this perfectly.

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Before this initial viewing, I had never seen nor had I ever heard of “The Stuff”, but as soon as I saw Arrow announce it I immediately wanted to watch it. I’m more familiar with Larry Cohen’s more recent work for where he’s been a writer, so this was my first venture into his directing work and I have to say that I quite enjoyed “The Stuff”.

The film itself is very witty in places, with some good dark comedy that had me smiling in places. There’s some good banter between “Moe” and “Chocolate Chip Charlie”, and some very ‘dry’ comedic scenes; for example “You’re hose is hangin’ out the back!” “Are you going to arrest me for indecent exposure officer?”

The whole consumerism and in-your-face advertising of “The Stuff” that goes on throughout the film, whether it be product placement, very cheesy TV commercials, radio commercials and songs playing over the radio in the background all advertising “The Stuff” was a very good satire on everyday products that we all see and hear on a daily basis, especially here in the UK but even more-so in the US. I also liked the little nods to some of the bigger brands that still exist now (Coca-Cola, McDonalds and KFC).

The practical effects used in the movie do hold up pretty well in my opinion to today’s standards, with the only let down being the green screen work, this hasn’t aged particularly well and does stand out like a bit of a sore thumb. I was also very surprised to see minimal amounts of gore, in fact there’s hardly any throughout the film. I don’t know why, but I had expected there to be a fair amount of it in “The Stuff”, however, this isn’t a minus point on the film itself though.

When you first get a glimpse of the cover art for the Blu-ray, whether it be the new artwork or original art work on the reverse side of the sleeve, you know instantly that “The Stuff” isn’t going to be a ‘fantastic’ movie. I found it to be quite the different movie from what I was expecting in all honesty but I have to admit I enjoyed it a bit more than I perhaps should have done. It does have a certain re-watch factor, probably more so when you can sit back with a bunch of friends with a few beers, kick back and enjoy. Reading a little bit into the movie’s reception it certainly seems to be one of these movies where it’s either loved for its absurdness and over-the-top ridiculousness, or hated for the exact same reasons.

“The Stuff” is B-Movie goodness at the highest level, and Arrow have released a fine Blu-ray to bring “The Stuff” into the high definition era. Boasting a very good video transfer with a good soundtrack as well as an excellent making-of documentary that is not only going to please fans of the movie, but will also please the Arrow collectors out there.

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Purchase your copy from Arrow or Amazon.co.uk

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About the author

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER | Matt is a huge movie fan with a big passion for all the 80s cheesy Action movies. Anything Arnold Schwarzenegger related is an instant hit too! Also a UK Blu-ray reviewer for Hi-Def Ninja and UK Editorial Manager.