Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Remakes I'd Support: The Stuff

As you are all likely aware, I am very much against remakes on principle because often times, the movies that studios choose to remake were decent movies to begin with or were so recent that the original still holds up well.

But at times, there are movies that pop into my head that I think would in fact be good candidates for remakes.

One such movie that came to mind when thinking about this subject was the 1985 cult horror movie The Stuff.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular film, I will give you a brief synopsis (and near the end of this post, I am going to totally spoil the ending too, so be warned).

The film concerns the events that follow the discovery of a white substance oozing from the earth by some miners. For some strange reason, one of them decides to taste it and they discover that it is a delicious ice cream-like treat, and they decide to sell it to the general public in supermarkets and its own parlours under the name (surprise, surprise), The Stuff. But it turns out that it isn't some innocuous substance... it is a living organism that compels people to continue eating it and get others to do the same. After eating enough of it, it ends up killing you in a gruesome way as it escapes your body.

One brave boy and a former FBI agent turned industrial spy discover the product's dark secret and they set out, along with a few others, to try to save America from this whipped menace. It is one part The Blob, one part The Thing and one part Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Now when it was made in 1985, it was clearly a cheap-o B movie, despite featuring a cast including Danny Aiello, Michael Moriarty, Paul Sorvino and Garett Morris and laughably bad effects, but the premise was one that was worth exploring.

I know what some of you are saying... how can a movie about a dessert item that controls people and ultimately kills you be scary?

The kernel that I found so tantalizing in this otherwise flawed film was how corporate power and government corruption were portrayed in the film. The FDA approved The Stuff quickly, despite not being able to quantify what it actually was, and the people at that agency who made that decision suddenly quit or took extended vacations.

And here is where that spoiler I warned you about crops up. When the corporation that hired the industrial spy finds out what The Stuff actually is, they end up making up their own treat called The Taste, featuring The Stuff in a smaller quantity which they believe makes it safe but still addictive. But the spy is having none of that, especially after the two executive officers of the company won't taste their own product since they know that it is dangerous. So in a fitting bit of justice, with the help of the aforementioned brave boy, he forces those two executives at gunpoint to start eating The Stuff, and given its addictive properties, they can't stop.

Even though I hadn't seen the movie in many years, it was that parting scene, the comeuppance against corporate greed, since it can be argued that most of the other people involved putting the American public in danger from The Stuff had been under the control of it, so they were in many ways, innocent parties. But the two executives at the end were knowingly putting a product on the market that could enslave and kill a great many people, so they deserved what was coming to them.

It is that core element, the corporate slant that I think would be interesting to explore in a bigger budget remake. These days, having better effects technology would make the whole story work a lot better as well and perhaps make The Stuff believable.

I think a better fleshed out version of this story could work in this decade.


Lee Sargent said...

Why do you hate me?

MC said...

If I wanted to hurt you I would have said the following:

"Iron Man 2 is going to be so much awesome :)"