King Cohen: Hell Up In Harlem (1973) & Special Effects (1984)

I love that feeling when you just click with a director’s work. You see a film or two and then find yourself obsessed with tracking down all of their flicks (preferably on pristine Blu-rays chockablock full of features) and putting them in your eyeballs. I’ve had that with Larry Cohen, but it took a bit longer to reach full-on “gotta watch them all” mode. It turns out that Original Gangstas (his last feature) was the first one I saw back in 2009. A few years later, I checked out The Stuff and really liked it, but it was Q that hooked me! Since then, I’ve been slowly keeping an eye out for his films from the various boutique Blu-ray companies. Recently, I was able to pick up two from Olive Films through a DeepDiscount sale which were both rad in their own ways.

Continue reading King Cohen: Hell Up In Harlem (1973) & Special Effects (1984)

Halloween Scene: The Stuff (1985)

Netflix Instant has been trying to get me to watch The Stuff for months now. I kept avoiding it because, well, it sounded kind of stupid, the tale of an oozing dessert product that’s having a strange effect on the people who eat it. It wasn’t until my pal Rickey Purdin drew his version of the film’s poster (seen at left, and larger on his excellent site VHS Notebook) that I decided to give it a whirl. Trying to watch a horror movie every day this month also helped. Man, I’m glad I listened to Rickey because I thought this was a great movie.

The beauty of this film is that it effortlessly balances an increasingly global story with the adventures of the main characters: a corporate saboteur, the PR guru who created The Stuff’s highly effective ad campaign and a kid who figures out something’s wrong long before everyone else. There’s also a wonderful balance in tone. Star Michael Moriarity is doing a cross between Columbo and Matlock but younger as he searches for the truth behind The Stuff. He’s quite funny in this role, but the film still achieves a sense of impending dread kind of like the end of Cabin Fever, which also deals with something bad potentially hurting a large portion of the population.

And yet the “bad guy” of the movie — aside from the people making money off of selling an unknown quantity to hapless consumers (there’s a message here) — is an amorphous blob of white goo. It seems silly, but when you think about how many people are eating this stuff — it not only tastes great, but helps you lose weight…before your insides become the stuff and it takes over your brain — and the potential of that calamity. I should note that while The Stuff itself looks basically like tooth paste or really thick milk, when you see a ton of it pulling a guy up a while, chasing a kid or oozing out from inside a person, it’s still kinda creepy, kind of like The Blob.

Maybe I was just in the right mood for this movie or maybe it hits a lot of my movie buttons — ambitious story done well, Garrett Morris being awesome, great lead kid actor, solid cast and Star Wars sheets in the bedroom — but I really found myself wondering why more people don’t talk about The Stuff. So, do like Netflix suggests and give it a watch.