Society (1989) Poster

(1989)

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Anything for Society!
Cujo1083 August 2010
Beverly Hills teen Bill Whitney (Baywatch's Billy Warlock) is good at sports and popular at his high school, but he feels alienated from his upper crust family. His parents are indifferent towards him while lavishing favor upon his sister. Sometimes he even feels like they're conspiring against him, but is he just paranoid?

This was Brian Yuzna's first film as director, and it's still his best. My love for this thing knows no boundaries. It's such a wonderfully unique mixture of social commentary, the 90210 lifestyle and incredibly warped horror. Oh, is the horror in Society ever warped! It's always fun showing this to first-timers and seeing their reactions to what unfolds on the screen. Horror aside, the film also works as both a joke on the rich and a scathing indictment regarding their tendency to leech off of the have-nots.

Even though it's pretty clear right from the start that things aren't what they seem, there's a great sense of paranoia present in Society. Is Bill's rich family plotting against him? Are they even human? You wouldn't expect a former Baywatch star to be an alienated sort, but in the context of the film, it works. The pitch black humor works too, though there are a few more juvenile attempts at comedy (the kids on the beach) that are admittedly lame. In a way, however, they do add to the film's bizarre tone. I used to see the weirdo mother character as another pointless attempt at low-brow humor, but the more I've thought about it, she's likely there to represent a mishap through the shunt. Former Playboy centerfold, Devin Devasquez, plays her quirky daughter, Clarissa Carlyn. She's very appealing in the role, and it's refreshing to see a rich beauty portrayed as something other than an evil vixen for a change.

The climactic scenes involving the big shunt are really something to behold. Words cannot do justice to the madness of this sequence. Spectacular, glorious madness! Nope, even those words don't do it justice. The very idea is quite perverse, and the special effects by Screaming Mad George are jaw-dropping. I'd be hard-pressed to come up with another horror film that comes close to rivaling Society's climax.

I also can't go without mentioning the sinister reworking of the "Eton Boating Song" which plays over the film's opening credits. It's pure gold, and since the Anchor Bay DVD's menu has it playing on a loop, I like to leave it on the menu for a bit after I've finished the film.

Society has a never-ending charm that's impossible for me to tire of. I'd probably rank it somewhere among my top ten personal favorite horror films if I were to make such a list. I remember trekking all over the metroplex just to find a copy back on the DVD's release date (the same day Near Dark hit DVD from what I remember). Good times!
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8/10
You just gotta see it to believe it!
lost-in-limbo7 January 2006
Billy Whitney is a troubled kid who's seeing a shrink because of his fear of loved ones and those that are close, which he has a hard time fitting in with his wealthy family as he feels he doesn't belong with them. He's also a student at Beverly Hills Academy who's running for president and is dating the head cheerleader, so things aren't all bad. Although things suddenly change for the worse when Billy's Sister's ex-boyfriend convinces him there's something strange about his family. Now Billy gets pulled into a very frightening world that's filled with surreal images and where the paranoia is finally tearing him apart. But what's to come for Billy will be more shocking than what he can comprehend.

After watching a horror-mystery the day before I decided to put my teeth into another, Yuzna's 'Society'. You'll think that Society comes across as usual pure 80's trash in the very cheesy kind. And it does look like that and actually descends into that pattern. But firstly the way it started off you might think otherwise, as it does open proceedings rather eerily with an tight prologue and then a haunting tune through the opening credits, but soon it takes a real sharp turn from its beginning and heads into familiar 80's horror territory, with the usual corny dialogue, gratuitous nudity, camp performances and over-the-top humour. Although when it comes to the final 20 minutes or so, you totally are blown off your feet and possibly are in a state of bemusement. During this stage it turns disturbing and rather disgusting, while there's classical music streaming along. I know that I was left with a bewildered impression on my face and I would be surprised if you don't get the same feeling too. Meaning it's a good idea to make sure your not eating when coming up towards the film's perverted climax.

The odd but fun story does play out like a teen flick with nice amount of mystery and yep I say it, satire. This story has more to it and that shows in the hidden agendas and subtle dialog that all seems to come together perfectly. On a second viewing you would easily pick up on these hints within the script. You got your sick in-jokes, lame pun and plain wicked tone. Back onto the satire now, which this story is an allegory on the rich looking down on the less privilege and finally screwing over the poor. These amusing pot-attacks are scattered across the story, while also worked into the mystery side of the story with Billy trying to figure what's going on and what's this 'society' is. Some moments you see have you contemplating if what he sees is a figment of his imagination. The reason why you question this is because his seeing a shrink so is it just in his head or is this nightmare for real. This is presented in a very good manner and that's because of the man behind the camera.

Brian Yuzna who produced the great 'Re-animator (1985)' makes his directorial debut here and does an extraordinary job. No real atmosphere is generated, but he paces it with such elasticity that there's no labouring about and he ups the suspense with assured handling and control. The humour and horror balance is a bit uneven, at times it felt oddly out of place, but it doesn't destroy the fun mood. Camera placement is rather sharp and well executed, with a nice eye for shots and moods. Going with it all is a likable heroine played by Billy Warlock from 'Bay watch' fame. While, the rest of the acting is nothing out of the norm for a film like this. Everyone was effective in their parts and contributed to the enjoyment that followed. The production is incredibly slick and that's evident by the locations and Screaming Mad George's mind-blowing special effects. Those messed up effects that come out of the blue are what makes this film memorable in its inevitable outcome!

There's nothing really creepy about this real jokey 80's horror flick, but when it gets to the ending credits you'll be left with one real lasting impression… I assure you!
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8/10
...Or do you want me to pee in it?
Ali_John_Catterall20 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Cinema in the 1980s was all about the meat. "Long live the new flesh," proclaimed James Woods in Videodrome, and when the flesh wasn't being splayed, flayed or contorted into new and nightmarish forms, Long Pig was firmly on the menu during that greedy, decadent decade.

The directorial debut of Brian Yuzna, collaborator of Stuart (Re-Animator) Gordon, cult favourite Society joins a polite entrée of cannibal-flavoured fare, such as Paul Bartel's Eating Raoul (1982) and Peter Richardson's Eat The Rich (1987); although the film's nearest dining companion is surely Bob Balaban's Parents, employing the same sense of creeping familial paranoia, and is also from 1989 - as is Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. Begging the question: just what was in the water that year?

In an era of Reaganomics and Thatcherism, it wasn't too much of a stretch to imagine some shadowy cabal of Republicans or braying Hoorays chowing down on the poor huddled masses ("Mmm, Job Seeker with gravy, anyone?") and Society, where John Hughes meets Davids Cronenberg and Lynch for lunch at The Four Seasons, posits exactly that scenario. Here, the rich really are another species, a race of Mr Stretchys, inbred to hell, and parasitically feeding on the lower orders: "The rich have always sucked off low-class s*** like you!"

As it opens, 17-year-old Bill Whitney (Warlock) seems to have the perfect set-up: home is a Californian mansion, his girlfriend's a cheerleader and, being a C-grade jock type, he's a shoo-in for class president. Drawbacks: notwithstanding a curly mullet Lou Reed would blanch at, he's feeling increasingly alienated from his family, a preppy bunch of West Coast WASPS, and is convinced he's adopted. Mom and dad barely acknowledge him, and his sister bulges in all the wrong places. As he gloomily tells his therapist Dr Cleveland (Slack), "We're just one big happy family - except for a little incest and psychosis." The usual teenage angst? Or is he on to something?

First he glimpses his showering sister through the misty booth twisted completely back to front at the torso, all ass over tits. Then her ex, Blanchard (Bartell) plays him a covertly recorded tape, appearing to indicate that his folks are holding incestuous orgies. "First we dine, then we copulate..." When Blanchard dies in a road accident, Bill becomes convinced of a cover-up, though he is distracted by a mysterious new girlfriend Clarissa (DeVasquez), intent on updating the 'Karma Sutra' with her improbably acrobatic positions in the sack. Until he discovers exactly what Dr Cleveland meant when he told him, "You're going to make a wonderful contribution to society".

While initially and mischievously coming on like some soapy teen melodrama, peopled with 'Baywatch' babes and beach-bullies, Yuzna's impish allegory gradually reveals the maggots with each crunch of the apple (metaphorically, and in actuality); peeling back the epidermis to expose the wormy heart of Beverly Hills.

It seems clear that Yuzna studied Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man at some length. Each subversive moment is calculated to completely wrong-foot a 1980s multiplex crowd, suckled on saggy, silicon horrors. "Cream and sugar... or do you want me to pee in it?" Clarissa casually enquires while pouring Bill's coffee. No wonder it was the critics' darling in Europe (with its tradition of killing rich people) but shelved for three years in the States: the Brat Pack may have been cocaine-addled brothel-botherers, but at least they never fastened a napkin in place while drizzling you with truffle oil.

The 20-minute climax, in which a disbelieving Bill is presented to the nouveau riche as the latest addition to their flesh fondue (the 'Shunting'), remains one of the most startling, shocking, and frankly exhilarating endings in the genre, let alone one of the kinkiest uses of latex in any medium. 2005's Slither may have upped the latex stakes, but SFX genius Screaming Mad George's sobriquet is entirely justified, as a crowd of thoroughbreds, stripped to their underwear, and "bent out of shape by society's pliers" to quote Bob Dylan, rearrange their DNA - dad really is a butthead - and slither through one another's yawning cavities like wet, red slugs.

Had the Marquis De Sade taken too much Camembert before bedtime, he'd be hard-pressed to imagine anything quite so brilliantly disgusting. It may be a one-gag picture, but it executes that gag with wit, flair and delirious abandon. Marx and Engels would surely applaud. Unfortunately, so would David Icke.
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7/10
What the...?
Gafke9 March 2004
This is one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen, somewhat akin to watching a Lovecraft tale as told by John Waters. I think I liked it. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I did...I guess.

Billy (Bill Warlock of soap opera fame) is nearly 18, and has spent his youth living a life of privilege with his wealthy family in Beverly Hills. However, he senses that something is wrong. He does not look like his mother, father or sister, and indeed, they treat him as though he were an outsider. Oh, they're always very pleasant and polite, but they're somewhat distant and rather cold, displaying no real emotions towards him or anyone else. Tragic news is met with blank expressions and vacant smiles. Billy's girlfriend is too busy obsessing about parties to care about Billy's mounting concerns, and his psychiatrist dismisses his worries with prescriptions. When Billy hears an audio tape recorded by his sisters' most recent dumpee, his worst fears are confirmed: something unnatural is happening, something incestuous and profane. But the dumpee disappears, the tape recording alters itself, and Billy finds himself being slowly and deliberately cornered by The Society.

For all that this film is a dark comment on the soullessness of the upper classes, it never really takes itself seriously. Indeed, if it had, this movie would have died a quick death and taken up residence in the discount PVT bin at Blockbuster Video, cursed as it is with all the hideousness of the 1980s, denim and synth music and helmets of bleached hair everywhere. But this movie is so odd and freaky with the most morbid sense of humor running all the way through it that it works, and works pretty good. The special effects look a bit dated, but they're so hilarious that you won't care. (insert "butthead" scene here.) The "shunting" scene is still difficult to watch for people like me who have a low tolerance for sadism and gore, but I've seen gorier and the concept was so innovative that I had to appreciate it.

If you ever wanted to see one of those sappy teen movies from the 80s, (preferably the ones that starred Michael J. Fox or Molly Ringwald) tortured, dismembered and publicly humiliated, then this might just be the film for you.
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The kind of delightfully tasteless horror flick they just don't make anymore.
TheVid18 September 2002
Here's a reasonably funny slime-fest from producer/director Brian Yuzna of Re-Animator fame. It makes one nostalgic for the 80's thriller cinema, when a low-budget exploiter like this was commonplace, instead of the middle-brow crapola that passes for a fright flick these days. The latex-and-slime special effects are effectively old school and quite memorable. Enjoy.
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Tele-vision
chaos-rampant13 August 2012
Parts Blue Velvet and Videodrome, parts Repo Man and Braindead, this thing rocks and is surely one of the cult classics from the decade that you just have to see (forget The Warriors).

The 80's had a strange resonance. It seemed as though nothing was happening, nothing beyond spending and watching TV. It was morning again in America, but a kind of peculiarly false morning as though someone had reached out with a brush and painted false skies. You couldn't even trust it was day, much less anything else. So, something had to be happening that wasn't so clear at first sight, had to. It had to be ugly, since everything looked idyllic. It couldn't be that Watergate had been exposed and that was that.

But it couldn't be a political cinema anymore either, not in a convincing manner, since the people seemed satisfied. So Taxi Driver transformed into Videodrome. Both films are about a helpless observer of a life awash with foulness, but in the second case, he's a corporate type, and he's watching a TV broadcast, a TV broadcast that reveals something malicious in the airwaves that transmit reality that is just gnarly and insane beyond belief. Both films perceptively suggest the damage is in the retina of the mind's eye, and that damage is not a simple madness: the images madden.

This is much less strategic, of course. It was made near the end of the decade, so with enough hindsight to pass around buckets of paranoid blame. The satire is screamingly obvious, because who'd believe something so simple anyway, a conspiracy so pervasive, so blatantly evil, which is the clever little device used here: the film delivers subversive blows in the same channel as the people consumed reality on TV, the channel that played soap opera and assured life was something like it.

Watching the rich and privileged for weeks on end engage with utmost seriousness in lachrimose trifles about sex and power, is rendered here as a kind of goofy, since it was a TV lifestyle, malevolent conspiracy for sex and power over the viewer.

This alone would make the film required 80's viewing. It's a lot of fun, sunny, increasingly unhinged. It's strongly anchored on this end by having a famous TV star of the time in the role of the (paranoid) observer.

The icing on the cake is the unforgettable finale that parodies its own soap-operatic parody: the sexual games mockingly turn into an actual orgy for power. You get to see an actual 'butthead', among other slimy things.
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Classic 80's horror!!!
Katatonia12 October 2002
I remember first seeing this film about the time it was released in the late 80's, and it immediately struck me as intensely disturbing. That's a good thing for a horror film because not too many really disturb me. It has become one of my favorite horror films, and the reason for this is that it has such an original story, memorable characters, and it doesn't care who it grosses out! From the few people who hated this movie, they're obviously weak-stomached or perhaps even members of "Society"???

If you can't stand bizarre horror movies in the vein of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deranged, Hellraiser 1 and 2, Motel Hell, etc... then you probably will not enjoy this film...especially the last half hour. This is not for every audience and clearly doesn't pretend to be.

I've owned the video for years and recently also bought the Unrated DVD, i must say it is great finally having a very clear picture and sound...in it's uncut form! They just don't make many shockingly good horror flicks like this anymore...
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8/10
Truly bizarre horror debut from Brian Yuzna.
HumanoidOfFlesh14 April 2008
17 year-old Billy Whitney feels alienated in his upper-class Beverly Hills home.He hears a tape that seems to indicate that his entire family are having secret orgies.People appear dead one moment but are alive the next and then Billy's girlfriend's body appears to twist into abnormal positions.His parents insist Billy is imagining everything and try to commit him to an institution.Billy slowly discovers that his parents and the people around him belong to a different breed of people,a secret inbred Society who are capable of melding and shifting their bodies."Society" is one hell of a bizarre film.The conclusion scenes with gruesome and unsettling special effects by Screaming Mad George are truly startling and gooey.There is also some nudity and sex scenes.Check out this weird and surreal splatter flick.
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8/10
Incredibly bizarre, but that's why it's so good!
Nightman857 March 2008
The best film directed by Brian Yuzna (producer of Re-Animator) is this strange horror/sci-fi satire on the yuppie way of life.

Beverly Hills teen begins to suspect that there's something very wrong with his snobbish family, is he imagining it or are they... inhuman?!

Society is one original and shocking black comedy. There's never a dull moment in the engulfing plot, which starts out as a paranoia mystery then only gets increasingly weird from there on out. It all builds to a warped finale that you won't forget! It's one of those surreal and gruesome terrors that makes you wonder if you should be laughing or screaming at what you're seeing. The makeup work of Screaming Mad George (great name) is very effectively disturbing. The direction of Yuzna is well-done and the addition of the Eton Boat Song as the films theme is a clever touch.

The cast is spot on in their performances, the best being young star Billy Warlock as our perplexed and horrified hero.

Society is one of those unique genre oddities that must be seen to be fully realized. It's one very wild trip that's well deserving of a cult status.

*** out of ****
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7/10
Brian Yuzna's View of the Fight of Classes
claudio_carvalho10 September 2006
The teenager Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) feels misfit with his parents and his sister Jenny Whitney (Patrice Jennings). When his sister's boyfriend David Blanchard (Tim Bartell) bugs his family, he shows the disturbing tapes to Bill showing incest and a weird society. When Blanchard dies in a car accident, Bill decides to investigate his family and find a scary truth.

"Society" is a disturbing movie of Brian Yuzna, where the fight of classes is presented in a very original way. The surrealistic story could be much better, but it is an interesting political and economical view of Marx theories, with the upper dominant classes literally and explicitly "eating "the lower classes. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "A Sociedade dos Amigos do Diabo" ("The Society of the Friends of the Devil")

Note: On 18 July 2017 I saw this film again.
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8/10
Severely underrated Lovecraftian spoof-mystery...thing
The_Void5 October 2005
Brian Yuzna established himself within the horror genre by producing splatter flicks such as the masterpiece Re-Animator and the pretty damn good From Beyond; but Society marks his first directorial project. It's a good one too! This film is unlike the likes of Re-Animator in that it doesn't work principally from lots of gore. There are some disgusting scenes on display; but the main focus of the film is always on the surreal element of the story. It definitely shares a Lovecraftian influence with Re-Animator. Bill Whitney is pretty much the normal teenage boy; but he's pretty sure his family aren't. He's paranoid that something unusual is going down with the society around him, but his psychiatrist is having none of it and puts it down simply to teenage paranoia. This is something more than paranoia, however, and after reviewing a tape his friend made, and having his friend die mysteriously, Bill is now certain that his fears are real. But it's hard to stand out from society; and society certainly isn't going to take his accusations lying down.

Society starts out like one of those teen comedies from the eighties; but somehow manages to build into a very surreal little film. I can definitely see why many didn't like it, but it certainly clicked for me! There are a lot of things that don't make perfect sense, the acting is terrible and the script is less than perfect - but it doesn't matter, because the imagination and inventiveness is here, and that is always the most important thing in horror. While there are films like this one in existence, there aren't any that are really similar to it; and that gives this film more standing in my view, as originality should be rewarded. Another positive element about this film is the way that it handles itself. The first hour is mainly concerned with the mystery behind 'society', but unlike many mystery flicks; this one always stays interesting. When it finally builds to it's effects-laden, disgusting finale - the audience really gets paid off, and if nothing else; you'll be captivated by what is on display. This film is a spoof on real 'society', but it keeps it's points close to it's chest and doesn't hit the audience in the face with them, thus giving this an element of intelligence. I warmly recommend this film!
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10/10
Whoa. Just Whoa.
Pozdnyshev10 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
They made some movies with serious balls in the eighties, man. And this is one of them.

The movie's basically a vicious, over-the-top satire of what I think many people are afraid is secretly going on with those at the top tiers of society: a covert culture of unimaginable depravity, perversity, exploitation, and soul-annihilating sociopathy. Kind of like Eyes Wide Shut. And that this Hell on earth going on behind the facade of these majestic mansions is, in some mysterious alchemical way, what keeps them on top.

The plot is driven by this popular kid from an expensive Beverly Hills neighborhood who is obsessed with his fear that everyone in his life is not what they seem. And based on what we see, this actually looks like it's true: his family is wooden and distant, and all his "friends" appear to regard him with veiled contempt -- except the two whom his parents openly dislike, of course.

After a series of events which gradually make his world seem more suspicious, it turns out that he was adopted into this family for the sole purpose of being a human sacrifice at one of their parties.

After witnessing one of his friends basically getting turned into a tapestry of mangled flesh, and witnessing bizarre body mutations, he escapes with the help of his other friend -- which seems a bit unlikely, given how cunning and powerful that "Society" was portrayed as being. But I guess they needed to tack on a happy ending.

But damn, though -- the movie symbolically taps into a LOT of effed-up things that one's innermost heart fears is going on in secret.

Like his high school debate for class president. What appeared at first to be the unpopular nerd vs. the popular athlete was really a fixed game where both sides were completely controlled by the same force... Like how I feel about every presidential election.

Or the fact that in the end, which one of his friends gets "sacrificed?" The relatively fat and unattractive one. It makes you think. Why do I just accept that as a movie cliché? Are we, on some level, just like the awful Society that frivolously ruins and desecrates whom they regard as "inferior"? Would we enjoy doing the same if we were born into such a high caste?

Is this Society, at the end of the day, just the natural order of things? very disquieting.

Another symbol that I think most only see the surface of are the surreal body mutations. In the end, the part where the protagonist witnesses his poor friend (who happens to be Jewish... not sure what that means) gets turned into a huge elastic abomination while getting fisted and eaten. It's not just weird, man, it MEANS something. It could be:

-hallucinations brought on by the trauma of seeing your friend get murdered

-and this is the scariest thing: it's simply the closest visual metaphor we can get for the unimaginably, appallingly sadistic thing they do to people as part of their ritual. I think it's something like eating their soul, not just raping someone but forcing your way into their deepest being and chewing it up like a damned wad of bubblegum before discarding it, leaving the person an utterly devastated wreck.

That's some ballsy sh*t, man. And SCARY. There's like, more going on in the heavens and the earth than we know. Some genius said that once. I appreciate this movie for being the few that makes me feel that way.
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6/10
A remarkable horror debut...to say the LEAST!
Coventry21 January 2004
Society is a bizarre horror experience, that's for sure. It works on several levels, actually. Nowhere near perfect, but certainly a great effort and an overall amusing film. The whole thing starts out as a typical teenager movie. Almost like a TV soap opera with the handsome and rebellious Billy (Billy Warlock) as the boy who's estranged from his parents and neighborhood. But Society soon changes into a mysterious thriller (in which Billy-boy tries to discover the handling and rituals of Society) before ending in a completely gore and splatter mess. The last half hour of this film goes beyond your wildest horror imaginations…while it's making no sense at all, this fairly disgusting sequence is a pure joy to observe. Society is in fact an absurd spoof that mocks the High Society of Beverly Hills tremendously. The characters are very stereotypical and the jokes are very cliché…but it works. The screenplay contains a lot of very insane and wacky dialogues and quote material. `Who do you like your tea, Billy? Cream and sugar…or do you want me to pee in it' or even stuff like `Now now honey, you know the rules…first we dine, THAN we copulate'. I'm sure Yuzna and the scriptwriters had a lot of fun. As did special effects supervisor Screaming Mad George! Society is the first film that credits Brian Yuzna as a director, but by that time, he already had his name made in the field. He was the producer of some other, terrific horror comedies like Re-Animator and From Beyond. He obviously feels at his best in this sub genre as he continued to direct and produce several more sinister spoofs with gruesome gore like the two sequels to Re-Animator and The Dentist (which is also a parody on life in the upper class, by the way). Society is certainly worth a look if your sense of humor is a bit twisted and your stomach isn't too weak.
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5/10
Possibly Yuzna's only half decent film
shes_dead11 February 2002
I'm not really keen at all on Yuzna films. They tend to lack in, well, everything. Plot, character development, style, script.

Society, on the other hand, is almost a decent film. It's very cheesy and very 80's. The directing is lacklustre and the script is poor. But, the over all idea is quite good and fun at times, and the gore is decent.

A decent remake of this film, with more humour, better actors and a better script would make for a much better film. At the moment it's very slow paced for what is essentially a teen horror film. it's certainly not on a par with 80's horror classics like The Lost Boys, or Amercian Werewolf in London, say.

Society revolves around a teen (Billy Warlock) who begins to realise he doesn't fit in - quite literally. His adoptive family and most of the town take part is weird 'orgies' where all their bodies morph in to all kinds or weird shapes. They also morph into each other.

The final 15 minutes or so does kind of make up for some of the more boring parts in Society - focusing entirely on one of these orgies as Warlock tries to save himself and his friends from being 'assimilated'. The end death, where Warlock literally pulls one of the characters inside out is an awesome moment and one of the great celluloid death scenes. Whether or not it justifies the rest of the film is debatable!
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Interesting movie, to say the least
I remember hearing about Society in Empire Magazine not too long ago. It was in the back page in the classic scene collection, and when I mean classic scene, I mean the end. After viewing the article and a picture of the last big scene of this film, I really thought this was going to be an uneasy film to watch but i didn't find it uneasy at all, until the end of course and I found it uneasy because it had a big build up. It wasn't like all the usual horror films where someone's guts are being spilled every 5 minutes, it was really interesting with interesting characters and the way they presented themselves throughout the movie because the whole thing had me thinking who's good and who's not but it's pretty obvious. Yes this film can get frustrating at times because you're wondering when the action of this film is going to start, but to be honest it doesn't really have big scene's like most horror films I thought. It wasn't the best film I had ever seen but it was one of the most interesting one's at that.
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10/10
Brilliant and disturbing
God-1220 April 2002
One of the best films I have seen, this brilliantly disturbing film deals with the fundamental primal fear of the subjective, or, if you prefer, shows how you are not paranoid if they are really out to get you.

If you get the chance, don't miss this film!
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6/10
Uniquely grotesque!
funtasticfour18 September 2019
The title of this movie is half the fun, as joining the society would normally be the thing to do. Yet everyone in this movie already appears to be rich, so what's the appeal? Well, that's a secret, and if you knew, you wouldn't want to join. A few twists and turns along the way are nothing compared to the finale, which is hinted at right at the start. Fun, yet typically 80's, not for the squeamish!
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10/10
Society Rules!!
treakle_19783 August 2019
What a excellent horror movie with great special effects,characters, writing and directing. I highly recommend you check out this movie!!!
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Surreal Kinky flick
spacemonkey_fg19 December 2003
Director: Brian Yuzna

Stars: Billy Warlock, Connie Danese, Ben Slack

Review:

Brian Yuzna, the mere mention of his name brings up images of gross experiments with human parts, crazy wacked out dentists and guys who sell their soul to the devil. In other words, "weird" comes to mind.

The story in Society is about Bill. He feels out of place in his family. They never really accept him, he in part never really feels like he belongs with them and the people that they hang out with. A bunch of rich and influential people, you know, high society. Bills more concerned about going to the beach and hanging out with his friends. Oh and he has the hots for his own sister.

Anyhows Bill cant help and shake the feeling that their is something weird going on with his family. Specially between his parents and his sister. Things get weirder from their on.

Society is exactly the type of movie that a director like Yuzna would make. Watching I couldnt help but think that this was defeneatly a Yuzna film. You remember that scene in Yuznas Faust where that lady contorted and grew until she transformed into a huge mass of human flesh on the floor? Or those scenes in Bride of Re-animator where Herbert West started joining human body parts and making these weird creatures? Well after you see Society youll see where that type of imagery comes from.

Yuznas in love with images of melded human bodies and placing body parts where they should not be. He enjoys exploring human sexuality and adressing it on his films. So, needless to say by the time you are through with society you will feel like you had one truly messed up wet dream.

The movie plays a lot with the theme of rich people being corrupt and that they hide who they really are. They are not as nice and proper as they seem to be. Also Society emphazises on the theme of the rich feeding off of the poor. So thats the type of theme and overall idea that Yuznas trying to put across. The rich people are "bad" the poor are "good" and being stepped on by the rich.

The nudity is not as explicit as you might expect, still you cant help but feel kinda weird while watching these images.

Yuzna manages to mix in some gore amongst it all. Youll get to see some distorted humans streching body parts and distorted faces, all thanx to Yuznas regular make up fx man Screaming Mad George.

One complaint though. The movie does seem to drag on and on until it finally does get to the grand guignol finale, but when it does get to the last sequences, they get really weird and sexual.

You can tell its a low budget film and also that Yuznas on his training wheels here as a director. The flick does not look as polished as Yuznas latest efforts like Beyond Re-animator, so be on the look out for some bad lighting and some hedious acting from some of the cast. Still Yuznas creativity allows him to give us a visually interesting film (towards the ending anyways) and part of that is thanx to Screaming Mad George whacked out make up fx wich weve seen on such films as The Re-animator films and The Guyver.

One other thing, you can tell its a late 80s early 90s production. Mullets and neon colors abound.

All in all Society is one weird and surreal ride. One of Yuznas first flicks (and it shows) but one that can be enjoyed for its complete weirdness and symbolisms.
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A memorable and brave attempt.
DeepJedi28 March 2002
This film is not black comedy nor a splatter film as some have suggested. The material is presented far too straight to be interpreted as comedy in any shape or form and there is simply no splatter. It *does* have some nastiness but not of the 'splatter' variety. I found this film very disturbing the first time I watched it and the second time round (the other night) I found it just as unsettling. It is only fair to say then that this film isn't all bad; not all films are memorable by a long shot and I think everyone who has seen Society will remember it. It is also only fair to say that not many directors have a go at the idea that the wealthy echelons of society may actually be an entirely different breed of being from humans. It is undeniable that it is the common belief that to be successful in business you have to be ruthless; this can read as cold-hearted, a 'monster'. No scruples, no morals, no laws. Wealthy people *do* have private clubs and society parties that cater only for an 'elite'. How do they know one another? Can people infiltrate their ranks? It has been tried, and documented (in television at least) unsuccessfully. The class distinction that these people themselves make, makes it an easy creative jump to the premise of Society. The same thing was attempted (less well I feel, though equally bravely) in They Live. Given that it is also said to be a fact that 90% of the world's wealth is owned by 1% of the population, and that if this wealth was evenly distributed among the populace, the wealth would get back into the hands of those who currently have it in one decade, I find this film somehow frighteningly plausible! The scandals that occasionally reach the tabloid press, of high ranking politicians partaking in orgies held at private functions also come to mind. It makes my skin crawl and obviously Society's director Yuzna has seen the mileage in this as a horror subject. For me, the best horror has always been found in stories that seem like they *could* happen, no matter how incredible. If it seems *feasible*, then it can be particularly frightening. For this reason, H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds is, for me, a truly frightening story; it's that something about the 'unknowable', the 'what if' factor. Copland springs to mind (not a horror film but a horrifying situation), where the police are all in conspiracy with one another; it is plausible (some believe it to be fact) - who could you tell? Who could you call for help? The same 'what if' factor works for Society (indeed, I have heard of people claiming to actually believe its premise). From the negative comments about this film, I would say that this is a concept too high/subtle for many sensibilities. Society is technically competent (though I do recall one jump cut); the lighting was sound, the costume, casting, acting etc. all okay if nothing special. Bear in mind though that it's not easy to make the mundane everyday things of life 'special', and Society is about an undercurrent *beneath* the everyday existence. The way the plot unfolds and the protagonist's responses to the events, are all psychologically realistic; he tells his shrink about it all; he questions his own sanity. Nothing is very wrong with the way this film has been constructed; perhaps the movie's climax is too uncomfortable, too sudden (despite a careful build-up) and too brutal to 'enjoy'. The musical score plays a very powerful part in this effect too, masking the final grotesquery in a veneer of decency and refinement. Ugh! Very effective in making one feel disgust - but to what end? We can't really believe it can we? We aren't going to act differently towards the 'filthy' rich, are we? Is it possible to work with this concept and make it work? I'm certain it's exceedingly difficult so I praise the director for a brave effort; I am intrigued by Society and think it's worth seeing.
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6/10
Not much of a menace to anything
CuriosityKilledShawn16 June 2017
I remember seeing the trailer for this when I was about 9 and being freaked out. Nothing is shown, only implied, but a shot of Billy Warlock biting into an apple that is filled with worms stayed with me.

Originally hacked to shreds by the BBFC on it's cinema release in the UK (a shame as it performed much better here than in the US) you'll quickly wonder what all of the fuss is about. I know I'm somewhat desensitized in my adulthood (though cheap latex flesh wounds on Casuality still make me shudder and squirm) but you'll struggle to find anything in Society to justify the 18-rating. With barely a drop of blood to be had the film coasts as far as it can on themes and subtext. It doesn't get too far, maybe to the end of the street.

17-year-old Bill Whitney (played by 27-year-old Warlock) is a regular teenager in Beverly Hills who wants nothing more than a happy adolescence with his friends and to succeed at school. But his parents are weird, his sister is provoking unusual feelings from him, they appear to exclude him from their circle of privilege, and he begins to suspect that his well-to-do life is only surface deep and that something much, much sinister is lurking beneath the facade. His shrink suggests that he is merely feeling alienated and needlessly paranoid but when a nervous outcast reveals a secret recording he quickly realizes that it's not all in his head.

Nothing here really works. Brian Yuzna has great ideas but no clue of how to effectually execute them. The mystery is underdeveloped since there isn't much in the way of puzzle-solving or clue- hunting. The gore is almost non-existent, much to my immense dismay. I do realize that horror can be at its most effective when it is merely being suggestive or offensive but the big reveal at the end is so pedestrian and blunt that they might as well have just announced it right at the beginning of the movie (which kinda does happen thanks to the stupidly spoiler-iffic opening credits). Even during the "shocking" climax Yuzna shoots with that stupid pink lighting that Stuart Gordon used in abundance in From Beyond, which just makes the scene look dumb. Worst of all is the score, which honestly fits an episode of Chucklevision more than it does a hardcore 80s horror film with a reputation to uphold.

Crucify me if you want, but I say that Society really could do with a remake. If Cronenberg or Fincher were to redo this movie, contextually more timely and dynamic in our polarizing, and failing, society of 2017, then I have no doubt that the rotten core of Society can have more relevance now than it did in 1989. The ideas are intriguing, but Yuzna's amateurish direction and lack of focus spoil it.
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A masterpiece of surrealist horror
one4now411 January 2004
First off, let me note that this film is not "anti-democracy", as someone said. A democracy is a country where people make their own decisions, and America is run by people hired to make decisions for the people, not by the people. Our votes don't even count, in case you didn't learn from that fiasco between Bush and Gore a little while back. To call this film "anti-democracy" is to be anti-democracy, and I wouldn't be surprised if that critique was written by Dick Cheney himself. Now that I've got that out of the way, let's get to the actual film review. This is one of the freakiest films I've seen ever, and it scared the bejeezus out of me. There aren't many movies that can do this, but "Society" did the trick. I guess I really don't need to explain the plot because that's been done several times. I will say that it is one of the scariest, most grotesque, most bizarre horror films you will see, and, even if not each and every rich person in the world may or may not be a terrible person, this nation is a system run for the rich and by the rich, and so the satire is right on target. The FX are definitely amazing, and I felt a sense of tension all throughout. The paranoia of the film is very effective and creepy, and remember, as someone famous once said: "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you." "Society" is a horror film so well-made that the somewhat cheezy parts ("You're right! I am a butthead!") and less-than-great acting jobs by a few people in the cast is made up for by everything else.
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8/10
A contribution to society!
pzivojinovic1 June 2016
The glory of "Society" is that for all its perversity, the movie functions very much in the realm of quirky eighties psychological thriller, and for the bulk of its running time, there's hardly a drop of blood or a gobbet of gore. Certainly Bill Whitney has a strained and awkward relationship with his glossy, preening, patrician parents, but at his age who doesn't? In the meantime, "Society" is a stylish, severely debauched, possibly mentally insane little romp that entertains in spades. Chiefly due to Yuzna's skill with the camera, sense of pacing, spooky use of lighting and color, and lavish set-pieces (the mansion, the car wreck), "Society" entertains on its own terms as a stylishly creepy horror film. Cinematographer Rick Fichter wields one mean camera! Fichter captures the high society ghoulishness with high style, using colored lighting in a fashion reminiscent of Dario Argento. The acting is competent, the casting inspired: all the principals (Warlock, Patrice Jennings as Sis, the parents) work like troopers, while Ben Slack as the silver-tongued society shrink and David Wiley as the cigar-chomping Judge Carter (who has a talent for getting to the 'bottom' of any problem, quite literally) steal every scene they're in.

This is the single piece that is the most disappointing. While the artwork isn't bad, the story is and the characters don't really match up with their personalities in the film. Even though development in the film is very shallow, it would have been nice if that carried over to the book. It also diminishes the end of the film, and probably since it's a comic book would have been better suited if it was set right after the events of the movie not at least 15 years after.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
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A depraved, gory helluva time
JCrewPsycho19801 May 2003
This movie rocks. I really think that Brian Yuzna knows how to make sick, funny movies that make you wish he would do more movies. I'm not gonna talk about the plot all that much but try to see the unrated version, I think the DVD is unrated even though it has a rating? Not sure, but this has a totally different take on social classes and doesn't take itself too seriously. Incest, shunting, orgies, and a new method of ridding the world of the poor people are all blended in this movie.
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Terribly messy commentary on High Society
Jerry-9328 August 2000
You've got to love Brian Yuzna; he seems to have no aspirations other than to direct low budget DTV horror movies with gross FX. And this movie, by no means his best, was his first attempt at the genre.

The plot revolves around Billy Warlock not understanding his rich, uptight family. He doesn't seem to fit in with their lifestyle or with anything they do. And when an acquaintance, his sister's ex-boyfriend, plays him a recording of the sister's debutant party, Billy begins to think he may not even be the same species as his family (he's adopted, as we come to see). It all comes down to an oh-sooo-messy orgy where Billy is the Guest of Honor.

First things first: this is just a John Hughesish Coming-of-Age movie with yucky polymorphic mutants. Even the clothes are the same (and this movie is only 11 yrs old!). Unfortunately, adding high society mutants that eat the middle class doesn't make that type of movie any better. It is not good. The only reason to remotely recommend this movie is the wet-and-wild orgy at the end, where all the snobs come over to the house and turn into a big slimy pile of mush as they eat the ex-boyfriend. Even Billy literally turning this rival inside out can't make up for the first hour of this movie, which plays out like an Afterschool Special on alienation. Avoid, unless you're a Screamin' Mad George fan, then you'll eat this up.
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