Society (1989) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: Brian Yuzna
Starring: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards
Rated: R/Region A/Widescreen/1080p/Number of Discs 3
Available from Arrow Video
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 ickiest, most original body horror shockers of all time. Teenager Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) has always felt like the odd one out in his wealthy, upper-class Beverly Hills family. For some reason, he just doesn’t seem to fit in. But his sense of alienation takes a sinister turn when he hears an audio recording of his sister’s coming-out party, which seems to implicate his family and others in a bizarre, ritualistic orgy. And then there are the strange things he’s been seeing – glimpses of people with their bodies contorted impossibly out of shape… Is Bill going mad or is there something seriously amiss in his neighborhood? Packing stomach-churning grue and thought-provoking social commentary in equal measure, Society is a biting horror satire which culminates in one of the most gag-inducing “climaxes”‘ in all of horror history.
Society is one of those movies you hear tons about in the horror community. There was a time when everyone was just waiting to see which label would finally bring this movie back in print and bring it to Blu-ray! That label ended up being Arrow, and lucky for us USA folks, the USA branch of Arrow is releasing it in one of the most awesome looking releases you will find this year, especially in look and packaging. So, we know everything about this set is cool, but how is the movie? I for one had never even seen Society until I saw this and I can say that I really dug it a lot. This is a movie that builds some mystery, as we watch as our leading man, Bill, start to discover some very odd things about his family and some other people in their inner circle. What follows is a movie that echoes the 80s in delivery (being made in 1989, but not released until the 90s) and shows us some of the coolest looking effects we have ever seen. This has the type of body gore that even a director like David Cronenberg could look at and nod his head in approval. So, with all those things taken into account, I happily admit that Society was worth the wait and a release you want to see, especially if you were like me and never had gotten the chance to have seen it before. I think it is a movie that leaves you wanting more, which is a whole heck of a lot better than just wanting it to wrap-up.
So, among the mystery, the good-looking cast, and the body modification, is also has a sense of humor topped off with a dose of actress and model Devin DeVasquez in her prime. Here she plays Clarissa, a girl who seems a bit odd (Most everyone in this movie does), but is also the object of Bill’s affection, even with him already having a girlfriend. Her being here means that the looks of the cast (or namely her) are rival to the awesome looks of the effects. Effects I might add that aren’t hurt by the smooth HD transfer. Usually in these cases you will see the strings so to speak and it makes cool effects look a bit wacky or really fake. I don’t think that is the case here and this movie is much better because of it. This a movie that just isn’t a visual spectacle, it has a lot to say in the social commentary area. We get a good symbolism of what the higher up folks might think of the average joes and it is done here in a way that doesn’t seem preachy, but still makes the point and makes it very clear. So, watch this movie if you haven’t. It gives you a very cool storyline that makes you feel like it is a bit of an updated version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in some ways. It will also give you one of the strangest sexually fueled scenes you will ever find. It isn’t a perfect movie by any means. I do think it wraps up a bit too quick, but outside of that I found Society to be one of the strangest and most interesting things I’ve seen in horror.
– Newly remastered 2K digital transfer of the film, approved by director Brian Yuzna
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
– Original Stereo 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
– Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Brand new audio commentary by Yuzna
– Governor of Society – a brand new interview with Yuzna
– The Masters of the Hunt – a brand new featurette including interviews with stars Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell
– The Champion of the Shunt – new featurette with FX artists Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson
– 2014 Q&A with Yuzna, recorded at Celluloid Screams Festival
– Brian Yuzna in conversation backstage at the Society world premiere
– ‘Persecution Mania’ – Screaming Mad George music video
– Limited Edition Digipak packaging featuring newly-commissioned artwork by Nick Percival
– Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
– Society: Party Animal [Limited Edition Exclusive] – the official comic sequel to Society, reproduced in its entirety in a perfect-bound book
Quality of Transfer: 94%
Screen Shots from Mondo-Digital