Tuesday, 9 June 2015

REVIEW: SOCIETY (BLU-RAY)

After producing Stuart Gordon’s hit Re-Animator, Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead III) turned his hand to directing with 1989’s Society and gave birth to one of the most original body horror shockers of all time. Don't be a butt-head, add it to your collection today.

With Society you get two films for the price of one, and even though Yuzna's film is approaching 27 years of age, Society feels just as fresh as it did on original release. Fashions may change but quality filmmaking doesn't and Brian Yuzna's deranged black comedy will forever stand the test of time.

On the surface, teenager Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock from Baywatch) has it all. An attractive girlfriend, a beautiful suburban home, the idealistic family, a place on the basketball team and large support for class presidency. Despite all this, he always feels like the odd one out in his wealthy, upper-class Beverly Hills family. For some reason, he just doesn’t fit in. 

His therapist is on hand to put his mind at ease but things seem a little off in Bill's world. Not least the rest of his family, who seem a little too close for comfort. Bill's sense of alienation takes a sinister turn when he overhears an audio recording of his sister’s coming-out party, which seems to implicate his family and neighbours in a bizarre, ritualistic orgy. 

Not only that, but what about the strange things he’s been seeing? Glimpses of bodies contorted out of shape, maggots in his fruit bowl, friends disappearing off the face of the earth only to return like new. Is Billy going mad or is there something seriously amiss in his neighbourhood? Think The Burbs with a seriously icky denouement. 

I haven't seen Society in years and like many people I suppose, all I really remember is the gross-out ending. Rediscovering Society now it's amazing how sharp the opening stampede is. Society may culminate in a mind-boggling finale but for the most part it is a biting horror satire with solid performances, smart dialogue and just the right amount of 80s cool. Even if it was the very late 80s, it's still so damn cool. 


The script does repeat itself from time to time and the plot is relatively thin, but there's enough here to keep you engaged throughout. Despite a repetitive insistence on hammering home Bill's paranoia (we get it already) the script is still smarter than your average American horror movie and the characters aren't quite as predictable as they first appear. 

Society remains a little uneven and the ending is signposted from the opening credits, but even if you have a nagging suspicion of how things are going to turn out (it's not rocket science), the ending never fails to surprise, disturb and delight. Twenty minutes of warped humour and unforgettable effects work. Trust me, it's worth the wait.

The bonus content for this UK Blu-ray release includes brand new featurettes with stars Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell, and interviews with FX artists Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson. Alongside this, the disc will also feature Brian Yuzna in conversation backstage at the Society world premiere and a Screaming Mad George music video.

Society isn't quite the perfect horror movie and feels a little stretched in places, however, what Brian Yuzna has done is crafted one of the most memorable finales in cinematic history. All in all, Society is going to make a wonderful contribution to your horror collection. 


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