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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Society (1989)

Yeah that's right, it's autographed to me!

Every so often I'd hear this movie get named checked but like lots of movies (I hear about A LOT of movies on a regular basis) it falls by the wayside and waits until I finally manage to get to it. Once I finally saw it I was kinda mad at myself for waiting so long. Lucky for me my very first viewing of it ever was a 35mm print with the director Brian Yuzna (The writer behind the Honey I Shrunk/Blew Up The Kid movies and producer of several Stuart Gordon movies) in attendance for a Q&A! More on that bit later though, let's talk about this movie for a spell because WOW- it's lude, crude, rude, gross, creepy, and hilarious. I can't really ask for more from a horror movie and this one has it in spades! Not bad for Yuzna's first time in the director's chair if I do say so myself.



Plot Synopsis: Bill Whitney (played by Billy Warlock, who you might recognize from his countless appearances on daytime soap operas) lives a pretty comfortable life: he's a star athlete, has a lame-o bimbo girlfriend, and drives a really expensive jeep. Lucky for us, he's actually a pretty down to Earth type of guy who doesn't quite feel like he fits in with the rich community. He feels, well, "different". You know, like everybody is out to get him. Nobody will believe him- not his family, therapist, or even his friends. Unfotunately for Bill, he's more right than he knows. Fleeting glimpses of rearranged limbs and such are just the beginning in this satirical nightmare about the thing we of the 99% despise the most: RICH ASSHOLES. Will Billy discover the secret of "Society" before it's too late?

And even if he does, will it matter?

If that doesn't make you want to watch this movie then stop reading back at the title of this post. As my brother so deftly puts it this is a movie that lives up to the hype 100%. It's a movie that people tell you "You HAVE to see this!" and I believe quite firmly that is a correct statement. Why I'm even trying to write a review of it that isn't just the words SEE IT over and over a thousand times is beyond me. Pretty much anything a horror movie fan could want occurs at least once in this mess. For all of its reputation however the movie seems to be somewhat lesser known by the greater horror movie watching fan base. This might be due to the fact that for some reason or other it was released in Europe in 1989 (where it did really well) but didn't come to screens of any kind in the US until mid 1992. Why this happened I will never know (and could have asked the Director to his face had I known this just a few months ago!) but thankfully it managed to find its audience on VHS somewhere along the way. There's a DVD edition of it that is unfortunately way way out of print too, which I think is a real pity because not everybody has the rather uncommon (but not rare) tape to enjoy and having a DVD available might boost its rep a little and allow more folks to see it.

One can only speculate why it didn't do well here in the States. I think it is probably because most Americans are boring and only see a gross horror flick instead of the rampant social messages hiding behind it. Anybody (like you and me) who isn't rolling in Benjamins doesn't understand rich folk. Let's face it- they have a fair amount of disconnect from the way the rest of us happen to live in many (but not all mind you) cases. They might as well be a different species, and frankly that's exactly what they are in this movie. They drive fancy cars, wear nice clothes, have big houses, and partake in a ritual known as "shunting" which has to be seen in order to be believed. I'm not giving one ioda of that part away and it is up to you to find out for yourself. It's pretty terrific I'll tell you that much.

This brings me to the subject of the film's makeup effects. Almost none of it is gore related (in the gross bloody sense at least) and some of it turns out to be completely hilarious. All I can say is "butt for a face" and you'll find out what I mean once you have a look. Though if you watched the trailer (I KNOW some people don't bother viewing any of the clips on here and just read, what the fuck is wrong with you?) you no doubt saw a few things already, I'm not sure that it can adequately prepare you for what happens, so do what I did and jump in head first.

I'll just throw in this screen cap to give you another taste:


Like I was saying at the start of all this, my very first viewing of this was in glorious 35mm. It was shown last year as part of the Olympia Film Festival's annual All Freakin' Night event with Brian Yuzna himself in attendance. He was really super nice and answered each question (amazingly, very few were asked) in a good amount of detail. Unfortunately I can't tell you what I asked because I don't want to give anything about the movie away in case you have not seen it yet, sorry folks. The most I can tell you is that he said "shunting" a lot. The only movies involving Yuzna in my possession up to this point were only produced by him and not directed, so I went on ebay and thankfully found a very cheap copy and got it in the mail just in time for the event. It's the only time I have ever chased somebody down while using my walker (sometimes I need one to walk, I have MS remember?) but like I said before he was super nice and I even got to shake his hand and thank him for coming and presenting the film. Suffice to say, this was maybe my bestest first viewing of a movie ever for 2011.


- Billy Warlock's awesome Michael Douglas style hockey hair

- Lots of super late 80's rich D-bag customs to hate on

- Unexpected gross

- Equally unexpected hilarity


- The absolute greatest use of the insult "butt head" ever committed to celluloid EVER

I'm not exactly sure what else you really want to hear from me, GO WATCH THIS RIGHT NOW! You may or may not regret it.

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