Directed by Brian Yuzna
Starring – Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards
Runtime – 99 minutes
UK Release – Dual Format Blu-Ray & DVD from Arrow Films OUT NOW
Every teenager goes through the stage where they feel they do not quite fit in, but for Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) his suspicions about his idyllic high society family might well be right.
Beginning much like any run of the mill teen comedy, we are introduced to troubled teenager Billy visiting his psychiatrist, he voices his concerns about a possible conspiracy,his disassociation from his family and thoughts that he may well have been adopted. His psychiatrist attempts to put Bill’s mind at ease but his hallucinations and numerous on screen innuendos are just the first signs in a lesson that will really make you question his own sanity. When his sisters ex-boyfriend attempts to bring to his attention evidence of his family’s incestuous parties, Bill tries to seek help, first from his girlfriend who seems more interested in her own social status and then his psychiatrist who’s best advice is, “you have to learn to accept society’s rules of privacy. If you don’t follow the rules, Billy, bad things happen.” and then to top things off, Bill’s only ally is disposed of in a freak accident.
This is a fair warning that kicks Billy’s suspicions in to overdrive in this weird mix of John Waters style humour, Cronenberg-esque body horror visuals and an ending that is the pure definition of WTF!
Directed by the great Brian Yuzna in his first outing as director, Society is a very clever (if somewhat bizarre) take on the class system and how an individual can try to fit in but at the end of the day you are what you are and trying to be something you are not, never works out. Yuzna who is better known for producing the awesome From Beyond and Re-Animator and later went on to direct the re-Animator sequels sequels as well as a favourite of mine, Return of the Living Dead III, shows that he can bring to the screen a very unique vision competently.
This early outing as director allowed Yuzna to hit the floor running, this is a true mind fuck of a film and one that should grace the collection of any Body Horror fan. Sure it has some questionable acting but hey, this is the late 80’s Billy Warlock is one of the Baywatch alumni, there is an ex playboy bunny and the budget was extremely low for the time, needless to say, these folks were hired for looks not talent. But with that being said there is enough there to make the audience connect with Bill and share his paranoia, any normal film would have ended with the Rosemary’s Baby inspired revelation of conspiracy, but this is not a normal film.
The final reel will definitely be engraved in your memory for a long time to come.I cannot write about this film without bringing to your attention the mastermind behind the special effects, Screaming Mad George, who is this film is credited as ‘Surrealistic Makeup Designer’. I’m amazed at how nasty and disturbing the final sequence is and yet there is absolutely no blood, apparently this was one of Yuzna’s ways of getting around the rating system.
Screaming Mad George delivers some truly disgusting imagery that is sure to make anyone squirm, his previous work included Poltergeist II and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and 4, a man who’s work on this film seems to be the combined offspring of Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. The Effects are pure genius, no surprise then that Screaming Mad George has been Yuzna’s go to FX guy ever since.
This is yet another great release from Arrow Films, again not sparing on the extras, the Blu-Ray features a collection of interviews with the director, principal cast, the FX crew, there is also a lengthy conversation with the director at the UK World Première, a Screaming Mad George music video as well as a trailer and audio commentary
‘The society that kills to keep it’s existence a secret’.
Society is a great film that is only let down by budget restraints. A classic that I still found disturbing, over twenty years since my last viewing.
7.5 out of 10
And as an extra shout to Arrow Films then please check out the stunning artwork and packaging for Society.