Society Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray Review: Body Horror At Its Best

No matter what they paid "Screaming" Mad George for the practical horror effects, they got their money's worth.
  |   Comments

A quick look at our recent history will show plenty of animosity towards the wealthy, the upper classes, and high society.  From the Occupy Wall Street movement to Bernie Sanders-style socialism, thousands of people are lining up to protest with cries of “Eat the Rich!” But what if the rich weren't just greedy bastards taking from the poor to make themselves unfathomably more wealthy?  What if they truly were evil.  What if the rich ate us?

Director Brian Yuzna’s 1989 film Society has something to say about that.  Young, pretty Bill (Billy Warlock) comes from a wealthy, elite family but he’s always been different.  He doesn’t care much for high society.  He’s not too interested in fancy parties and being elite.  He’d rather shoot hoops with his pals and live his life.  

As the film begins he slowly realizes just how different he really is.  He watches his sister Jenny (Patrice Jennings) bend in impossible ways while taking a shower (why he’s watching his sister take a shower the film doesn’t bother to explain) and his mom (Connie Danes) and dad (Charles Lucia) start acting more snobbish than usual.

When his sister’s ex-boyfriend Blanchard (Tim Bartell) gives him an audio tape of his family and other unknown persons engaging in a murderous orgy, he knows something is wrong.  When other friends who seem to know what’s going on wind up dead, he knows he must investigate.  

It concludes in one of the strangest, slimiest body-horror orgies ever put on screen.  Screaming Mad George did the special effects and no matter what they paid him, the film certainly got their money’s worth. Seriously, if you are a horror hound and a fan of practical effects, this new Blu-ray from Arrow Video is worth getting just for that scene.

Society is a film that could only have been made in the late '80s. It was barely made even then. After having several of his productions fail due to directors dropping out at the last minute, Brian Yunza decided he’d try his hand at the helm.  As producer of the very successful Re-Animator, he knew he’d have no trouble getting financing for a sequel. He leveraged that into a two-picture deal and Society was born.

It is such an odd little film.  It has that '80s horror style that mixes in a little humor, a little social commentary with lots of bloody, gooey gore.  It attempts to say something about social classes but it never goes anywhere with it and the theme is pretty much completely lost when Bill’s “butthead” dad literally has his face coming out of his ass.  The mystery aspects don’t really work either as it never builds enough tension to keep one interested.  It really is the effects that kept me watching and they are so totally worth the price of admission.

Arrow has done its usual bang-up job with production.  Society has a new 2K transfer, approved by Yuzna.  It looks really good.  Colors are bright and natural.  Blacks are deep and solid.  I didn’t notice any scratches or digital defects.  There is a bit of grain in the darkest of scenes, but those are few and far between.  Audio is good as well.

Extras include an informative audio commentary from Yunz and a new interview with the same.  There’s a new making-of documentary featuring most of the stars and an insane interview with Screaming Mad George.  Plus a Q&A with Yunza at the Celluloid Screams Festival and some remarks from the director at the world premiere of the film.  Packaging includes new artwork and an essay by critic Alan Jones.  In the limited edition, there is even the official comic book sequel.

Society is certainly not for everyone.  As a film, it doesn’t really work as an interesting mystery and its social commentary never really takes off.  But for fans of slimy practical effects, this is one film you’ve got to see.  Arrow Video has done its usual magnificent job of bringing the film into the high definition world and its perfect for collectors.

Follow Us