Friday, 5 June 2015


you don't need to read this review. you just need to know that one of the most imaginative horror movies ever made is being released on blu-ray and that this is very important.

society follows seventeen-year-old bill whitney, a troubled young man who suspects there may be something strange going on beneath the surface of his privileged upper-class beverly hills upbringing. driven mad with paranoia, bill calls on the help of his friends and together they uncover the truth about what really separates the rich from the poor.

to describe society's plot as i just have suggests some degree of subtlety to the storytelling, when the film itself is kind of the opposite of subtle. this is a film of extremes, even before anything weird happens. the music is over the top, the colours are garish and the actors are more soap opera than horror film, not helped by some very on-the-nose dialogue. director brian yuzna takes these elements that would really hinder the effectiveness of a lesser movie and turns them into society's strengths. the film parodies the soap operas of the time in order to critique our perception of the rich and powerful. yuzna also uses the light, at times comedic tone to settle his audience into a false sense of security before the chaos and horror of the final act.

it's all about the ending. what yuzna and effects genius screaming mad george achieve in that final scene is still incredible today. this is a film made in a time before computers made anything possible, but achieving the impossible with the limited resources available is what screaming mad george seems to do best. flesh becomes fluid in that final scene, and it's awe-inspiring and at times even beautiful. and gross and disgusting too, obviously, but however you look at it there's something incredible happening on screen in that moment and it looks particularly amazing in the restored blu-ray format.

the best thing about society is that it's a film about ideas. it's a film that takes an idea about what really goes on behind the closed doors of the wealthy and then shows us what that looks like. it's a bold, transcendent work that dares tackle the ugliness of wealth and does some amazing things with effects in the process.

the blu-ray has everything you would want from a film like this. there's a wonderfully self-deprecating interview with yuzna himself, along with a recent Q&A and a brief interview from the 1989 uk premiere. then there are interviews with the cast and a really fantastic interview with screaming mad george in which he explains how he came up with his name and shows off some of his latest works. there's also a commentary track and a screaming mad george music video.

if you haven't seen society, why are you still reading this? if you have seen it, i really recommend the blu-ray as it' s a film that improves with age and it's never looked so good.

i'll leave you with the words of rudyard kipling, which came to minds as i watched that remarkable final scene -

when the flush of a new-born sun fell first on eden's green and gold, 
our father adam sat under the tree and scratched with a stick in the mould; 
and the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
till the devil whispered behind the leaves, "it's pretty, but is it art ?

society will be released on blu-ray by arrow video on 8th june

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