Society (Blu-ray)

September 12, 2016 7 Min Read

Review by: Jake Keet

Plot: What’s it about?

Arrow Video recently sent me a copy of Brian Yuzna’s surreal teen horror comedy Society. I was looking forward to the film due to a little investigating. The film was directed by a producer on Re-Animator, and the director of Bride of are-Animator, Brian Yuzna. I had not seen any of his films before, but that is okay because seeing the other films was not a prerequisite for enjoying Society. After watching the film, I feel pretty confident in saying that it is absolutely unlike anything I had seen before.

Society starts off ominously as popular teenager, Bill (Billy Warlock, soap opera and Baywatch star) tells his psychiatrist that he doesn’t feel like he is part of his family and that he might be in danger. He then bites into an apple full of worms. We are then treated to a truly bizarre anthropomorphic credits scene. This is essentially how this movie works. Teen angst, surrealism, paranoia, and disgust.

As the plot unfolds, Billy navigates his high school life in Beverly Hills as he deals with his strange fear of his family. One of his friends tries to reveal that his family is involved in some strange proceedings with upper society. That friend winds up dead as Billy sees strange things. As Billy gets more and more wrapped up in paranoid episodes, he meets a beautiful girl on the outskirts of society. All of this plot is just leading the viewer to the last third of the film, which is absolutely batshit crazy.

The last third of this film is absolutely bonkers. I can’t reveal what happens, but it is a twenty six minute visual assault on the viewers, and absolutely not for the faint of heart or easily nauseated. Holy cow. Your opinion of the film will probably come down to what you think of the climax of the film.

As for other aspects of the film, acting in the film is adequate. I really enjoyed the energetic performance by Billy Warlock which accentuated the campy nature of the film. The film has a silly sense of humor and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The ending of this movie will go down as one of the more gloriously strange things I have ever seen.

At the end of the day, I can’t wait to show this movie to my friends. It reminds me of the first time that I watched Sleepaway Camp and was left totally flabbergasted by what I had seen. That said, this is a niche film to the extreme and will turn off many viewers. You’ve been warned, but if you think you can stomach the last third of the film, it comes highly recommended.

Video: How’s it look?

Arrow Video did a very solid job on the transfer of the film using an MPEG 4 AVC codec of a new 2K restoration. The transfer looks good overall, with very few scenes suffering any issue whatsoever. The film has a very bright palette and most of the film is shot in the day time. If you have seen the film Weekend at Bernie’s, then you will be familiar with the same vibe of this film. I appreciate all the steps that Arrow Video took to rerelease what was essentially a straight-to-VHS film.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The audio treatment of Society was very good. Arrow has included both a LPCM 2.0 mono track and a Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround track. Both serve the film well. The mono track remains closer to listening to the film like it was playing on USA Network, and the DTS 5.0 surround track expands the film nicely. I had no problems here, just expect to hear some canned foley noises that will sound familiar.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Governor of Society – director Brian Yuzna discusses his career and how Society was developed. Good stuff. In English, not subtitled. (17 min, 1080p).
  • Masters of the Hunt – in this featurette, Billy Warlock (Bill Whitney), Devin DeVasquez (Clarissa Carlyn), Ben Meyerson (Ferguson), and Tim Bartell (David Blanchard) discuss Society. In English, not subtitled. (23 min, 1080p).
  • Champion of the Shunt – in this featurette, makeup designer Screaming Mad George and makeup lab technicians David Grasso and Nick Benson discuss their work on Society, including the epic shunting sequence. In English, not subtitled. (21 min, 1080p).
  • Brian Yuzna Q&A – a lengthy Q&A with the director. Some of the information overlaps both the commentary and other special feature, but still informative. In English, not subtitled. (39 min, 1080p).
  • Brian Yuzna – Society Premiere – Archival footage from the world premiere of Society at Scala Cinema, London, 1989. In English, not subtitled. (2 min, 1080i).
  • Theatrical Trailer – original theatrical trailer for Society. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080p).
  • Screaming Mad George Music Video – (7 min, 1080p). Couldn’t watch much of this. Too insane for me.
  • Audio Commentary – in this new audio commentary, director Brian Yuzna discusses the film and his career. This content repeats quite a bit what you have already heard, and is a bit dry. I recommend skipping the other content for this content, or vice versa.

The Bottom Line

Society is absolutely insane. What starts out as a fairly generic campy 80s B-movie morphs into one of the stingiest films imaginable. I personally can’t wait to show it to friends. It will not be everybody’s cup of tea but it is certain to please some people. Arrow Video has given a good transfer and reference audio along with some excellent supplements. Like most Arrow releases, I recommend a rental prior to purchase, but it definitely gets my seal of approval.

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