Society (1989) | Time to lube up! Brian Yuzna’s re-mastered slimy shock satire is a must-have on Blu-ray

Society (1989)‘You’re a different race from us, a different species, a different class… You have to be born into society’
Beverly Hills teenager Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) has it all: good looks, popularity, a cheerleader (Heidi Kozak) for a girlfriend – and a bad girl (Devin DeVasquez) sniffing around. But he’s seeing a shrink about feeling disconnected from his power-dressing parents and their well-heeled friends. When an audiotape implicates his family in a sick incestuous orgy, Bill decides to investigate for the sake of his sanity. But lurking beneath the surface of his glossy suburban world lurks something far more sinister than he could ever have imagined…

Society (1989)

‘The rich have always sucked off low-class shit like you’
Having won legions of horror fans around the world producing Re-Animator, From Beyond and Dolls in the mid-1980s, Brian Yuzna made his directorial debut with Society, a wildly original body horror shocker which has gone down in history as having one of the ickiest ‘climaxes’ ever conceived.

The film was made at a time when Reagan was passing the Republican baton to Bush Sr, Thatcher had Yuppie-fied Britian, and Dynasty and Dallas ruled the TV airwaves. Yep, the 1980s was all about money, power and privilege and Yuzna responded with this impressively vicious anti-establishment satire (which is still very relevant today) that plays like a flesh-melting horror version of Ferris Bueller meets Wall Street.

Society (1989)

Not surprisingly, Yuzna’s lubed-up fist up at everything that America stands for didn’t go down well with US cinemagoers – when it eventually got a cinema release. They were also more shocked by Baywatch hunk Billy Warlock getting tongued by Tour of Duty‘s Ben Meyerson than by anything else in the climatic orgy scene in which all manner of aberrant sex and gender blurring went on. Thankfully, European audiences ‘got it’.

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For me, this was the film to seek out when it landed in my local video store in the early 1990s, and it was just to see that outrageously inventive centrepiece. But I was hugely disappointed. Not by the SFX (which rocks) or the story (which is way ahead of its time), but by the terrible VHS print, which was all dark and muddy. So, it’s a big thumbs-up to Arrow whose specially commissioned 2k transfer looks bloody terrific – especially so in that all-important climax. I just can’t believe I’ve had to wait 25 years to see Yuzna’s insane masterpiece as it was meant to be. But it’s been worth the wait.

• Director approved restored and re-mastered 2K digital transfer, featuring original Stereo 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) and optional subtitles, available on Dual Format (Blu-ray and DVD)
• Audio commentary by Brian Yuzna NEW (very informative)
Governor of Society – NEW interview with Yuzna (The best of the bunch).
The Masters of the Hunt – NEW featurette including interviews with Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell. (Candid and excellent)
The Champion of the Shunt – NEW featurette with FX artists Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson (SFX fans rejoice!)
• Celluloid Screams Festival 2014 Q&A with Yuzna
Society world premiere backstage conversation with Yuzna (Wow! Yuzna in top form)
Persecution Mania – Screaming Mad George music video (I wanted more of these!)
• Limited Edition (3000 only) Digipak packaging featuring artwork by Nick Percival, collector’s booklet and the official comic sequel, Society: Party Animal.

Society also screens at the BFI Southbank on Thursday 16 July (8.30pm) and Sunday 19 July (6pm)

About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on July 13, 2015, in Cult classic, Horror, Must See, Must-See and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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