Society (1989) (DVD/Blu-ray film review).

June 8, 2015 | By | Reply More

If you could plot a graph of weirdness against time, this movie would start quite low but then increase in intensity until it went way off scale towards the end. Yes, ‘Society’ is definitely weird and well done to Arrow Films for rescuing it from obscurity. Made in 1989 and directed by Brian Yuzna, his first but certainly not his last movie, it was a low-budget affair which didn’t see the light for a few years. Eventually released, it wasn’t a great success but surprisingly it appears now on Blu-ray and DVD. Despite it being low-budget, ‘Society’ actually comes through as a competent and polished movie, with good acting and directing. It certainly doesn’t come out as an amateur production by any means and the special effects, purportedly done by someone called Screaming Mad George, are actually very good.


The main character is a young college guy called Bill Whitney (actor Billy Warlock, also in ‘Baywatch’) who has an affluent Californian life, well-to-do family, nice house and car. He has parents and a good-looking sister but despite this he just doesn’t seem to fit in to his family. They are a smarmy lot, to be sure, and the sister is very close to the parents. Bill doesn’t get on with any of the family friends neither and this causes him to be perplexed, sufficiently so that he consults his psychiatrist, Dr Cleveland.

An ex-boyfriend of the sister, Blanchard, is into electronics and makes tape recordings surreptitiously. He finds a complete shocker, a recording of the sister and the family engaged in a crazy murderous orgy. Bill can’t believe it and gives the recording to his psychiatrist. As you would guess, the tape changes to something innocuous and the boy is under suspicion. They want to give him drugs, he resists and this commences a spiralling sequence of bizarre events. Accidentally encountering his sister in the shower, he witnesses her body twisted from back to front in mindbending contortions. Also when making love to his cheerleader girlfriend, she seems to do the same and ends up back to front and upside down. One could say that this was quite unusual!

With the help of a couple of friends, they investigate further to discover that these people are not humans. Is this the invasion of the body snatchers? Maybe not because it seems the case that they are an ancient race going back to the time of Julius Caesar. Plastic bodies, a hive mentality and ethics of insects. What is Bill’s purpose? He finds the shocking truth at a party towards the end of the movie. It’s probably best not to say too much because that would spoil the movie in a big way. Sufficient to say, it just gets more and more fantastic. It even has lots of comedy because when the society members go through changing the bodies, with a face sticking out of their backside for example, it does get quite hilarious.

Is not all stomach churning horror, of course, because there is a political message running through everything, that being a satirical look at society in general. The lush life and the false mannerisms of the elite are starkly displayed for what they are worth. Bill hasn’t a clue about anything and only begins to realise what it’s all about when it’s almost too late.

The disc comes with a booklet, not supplied with review copy, but there are plenty of extras available including a commentary by the director, a new interview with him and a featurette with lots of the actors. As well as several other features about special effects, there is a comic sequel to the movie. Some of these extras are only available in a limited edition run of 3000 discs.

What started out as a oh my God here is another American teenager horror movie, turned out to be very surprising and unusual, even enjoyable it must be said. You will definitely not see anything like this anywhere else and it must stand alone as a type of cult classic. It’s definitely one to recommend.

Rod MacDonald

May 2015

(duel Format Blu-ray/DVD: pub: Arrow Films. 2 blu ray/DVD disks 99 minute film with extras. Price: £17.75 (UK). ASIN: B00TKCDM72

cast: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez and Evan Richards

Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English

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Category: Films, Horror

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