Movie Review: Society

societybluraySociety (1989)
Directed by Brian Yuzna
Starring Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards, Ben Meyerson, David Wiley, Tim Bartell, Charles Lucia, Patrice Jennings, Ben Slack

This strange and simple little tale about paranoia, but told in a way you’ve never seen before. Young Bill Whitney somehow doesn’t feel that he fits in with his rich family, that he doesn’t really belong with the rest of society that his family and their friends are part of. He just can’t place it but just can’t shake that feeling. Plus, the nightmares that he’s having aren’t helping, neither are strange things that he thinks he sees, but just couldn’t be real. But soon Bill finds out just how different he is from these people…or really, just how different they are.

Brian Yuzna, a name very familiar to horror fans, mainly due to him producing Re-Animator (1985), made his directorial debut with this film. It was part of a 2-picture deal that he had made, with the second feature being the sequel Bride of Re-Animator. While Yuzna isn’t a great director, a fact that he’s more than ready to tell you himself, he still can make a decent film. Sometimes they are great, some not so great, but for the most part, they are entertaining. But what he gives us with Society is something that comes from a very dark and twisted mind.

With today’s CGI capabilities, nothing is beyond the imaginations of the filmmakers. If the writers can dream it up, somebody on a computer can create that image, sometimes even making it look real on the screen. But a few years before that really took off, if a filmmaker wanted something on the screen, he would have to hire someone to physically create it. And for a film like this, I think there was only one person that could do that. His name is Screaming Mad George.

Now I’m not trying to put down Yuzna or the work he did on this film because it is an entertaining little film. But face it, it is because of George’s unbelievable, twisted, demented and surrealistic effects that we are still talking about it today. If you’ve seen the movie, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, then you really are in for a treat because there is nothing I could say that could even attempt to describe what happens during the last part of the movie. Sure, we could mention the ‘butt-head’ scene, but that really doesn’t do justice to the final big ‘shunting’. Back when this film first came out, it was one title that I always recommended to my normal friends when they asked me for something weird or strange. This always did the trick.

All my little criticism aside, Yuzna is still a very sharp man and knows the film business, especially for starting out in the business by knowing very little. You get to see this in some of the extras on this incredible disc that has recently been released by Arrow Video. There is an interview with him where he discusses how the film came to be that is very interesting. In fact, between this interview, some footage from a couple of different film fests where the film was playing, to the audio commentary he has on the disc, you’ll discover a very underrated and talented man, who has had his hand in many classic horror movies of the ’80s and 90’s and even beyond that.

Another great extra on this disc is a part on Screaming Mad George, as well as David Grasso and Nick Benson, who also worked on makeup effects on the film. But honestly, the real show here is about George and his crazy work. The stuff that he was coming up with and somehow got it all on the screen is just amazingly mind-boggling. I think a lot of it still holds up today. Grasso and Benson do have some fun stories to add in as well.

There is also a segment where they interview some of the stars of the film: Billy Whitlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell, who also have some interesting stories from their involvement with the film, from their casting to having to work getting covered in a bunch of goo.

If you are a fan of odd-ball cinema, the days of rubber reality, Screaming Mad George, Yuzna, then you’re probably already aware of this movie. But if not…then do yourself a favor and pick this new release up from Arrow Video and get ready to have your mind blown.

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