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Society1989

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  • 3.6
After producing Stuart Gordon's hit RE-ANIMATOR, Brian Yuzna turned his hand to directing with SOCIETY and gave birth to one of the ickiest, most original body-horror shockers of all time. Teenager Bill Whitney has always felt like the odd-one-out in his wealthy, upper-class Beverly Hills family. For some reason, he just doesn't seem to fit in. But his sense of alienation takes a sinister turn when he hears an audio recording of his sister's coming-out party, which seems to implicate his family and others in a bizarre, ritualistic orgy. And then there are the strange things he has been seeing, glimpses of people with their bodies contorted impossibly out of shape... Is Bill going mad or is there something seriously amiss in his neighborhood? Packing stomach-churning grue and thought-provoking social commentary in equal measure, SOCIETY is a biting horror satire which culminates in one of the most gag-inducing "climaxes" in all of horror history.

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1 member likes this review

Though many dismiss this film as unoriginal - a suspenseful body-horror film at a high school in Southern Los Angeles - I find that this misses what makes 'Society' watchable over other dollar-bin flicks. The early plot centers on an unreliable narrator dealing with teenage psychosis or a real murder plot, hinging on whether the viewer trusts the often irrational boy or his overbearing analyst. Either way, something is certainly Not Right in Beverly Hills. As the film continues, the main character confronts and rejects a number of 'societies' which threaten to absorb - and consume - him.

This movie has an anti-establishment social criticism component, exposing the violence of sycophantic grooming, and the weirdness of adults living vicariously through the sexual vivacity of their teenage offspring. At times, it feels very similar to 'Videodrome,' the ideal cinema towards which films of 'Socety's sort inevitably point.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (15)

Definitely challenging in terms of how much disgusting imagery one can handle, as the film finally reaches it's gory/just plain gross climax, but with the consistent air of paranoid mystery spliced throughout, this film never feels like it drags. The overall story is interesting enough, although the garnishness of the 80s shines through with unabashed bombast, as the film really is about the 80's, and the ridiculous extravagance of the super high "society" class, who stay in their position by leeching off the middle class. The social commentary is less hammered on the head, and more rubbed all over your face, then rammed down your throat, as this grizzly piece of over-sexed shock entertainment progresses. Or perhaps more rammed up your throat...for those of you who've already seen the film! If that at all sounds like your type of party, definitely give it a go!

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

Though many dismiss this film as unoriginal - a suspenseful body-horror film at a high school in Southern Los Angeles - I find that this misses what makes 'Society' watchable over other dollar-bin flicks. The early plot centers on an unreliable narrator dealing with teenage psychosis or a real murder plot, hinging on whether the viewer trusts the often irrational boy or his overbearing analyst. Either way, something is certainly Not Right in Beverly Hills. As the film continues, the main character confronts and rejects a number of 'societies' which threaten to absorb - and consume - him.

This movie has an anti-establishment social criticism component, exposing the violence of sycophantic grooming, and the weirdness of adults living vicariously through the sexual vivacity of their teenage offspring. At times, it feels very similar to 'Videodrome,' the ideal cinema towards which films of 'Socety's sort inevitably point.

1 member likes this review

Well said!

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top reviewer

2 ½. The last 20 minutes or so really are a must-see for any gore fan. It’s truly disgusting and has the added charm of being downright perverted. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is boring. I would have enjoyed it more if I had fast-forwarded past the first hour.

1 member likes this review

A cheese-filled paranoid conspiracy. The last 20 minutes of absurd body-horror are gloriously gross and goofy. Wonderful practical effects.

1 member likes this review

Intentionally intended as a darkly humorous look at class conflict in modern capitalist society but in actuality is just incredibly stupid.

1 member likes this review

Wow Guys There's A Metaphor At Work Here, Really Makes You Think

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

An accidental near-masterpiece in the body-horror genre. Perhaps the least talked about in the niche category, but certainly not because it's lacking in quality. The film is a modge podge of ideas and collaborators that works on a level that is almost beyond critique. While the films philosophical ideas are amateur and shallow, the practical special effects and tonal achievements are right up there with the best of Cronenberg and Carpenter.

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top reviewer

Creative. Good camera work. Good technical. Great casting. Better than average directing/editing.

Were I to make a film like this, I would start with my belief that my audience didn't want crisp plots, solid acting, or real feelings. They would want impossible scenes, unreal "persons/beings', and a lot of entertainment. The film gradually pulled me in even tho I am not a fan of horror films. Once I refused to take it seriously, I almost enjoyed it. Pretty good balance between humor and horror. The special effects were out of this world.

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top reviewer

A WILD AND VERY VISUAL RIDE IN FILM INTNS AT TIMES AND TOWARD THE END QUITE DISTURBING BUT VERY WELL DIRECTED AS WELL AS ACTING AND VERY UNUSUAL STORYLINE EROTIC AT TIMES ALSO AND SEEMS TO COVEY A MESSSAGE BUT AT TIMES IT SEEEEMS SO VAGE DEFINITELY A MUST SEE FOR ORIGINALITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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top reviewer

This film has secured a cult following and is most usually referred to as a dark comedic take on body horror. Think Cronenberg on a budget without the intellect.

Brian Yuzna made one hell of an unforgettable and wildly twisted film. The acting is not great, but the performances seem appropriate. Billy Warlock is clearly doing his best to channel a vague idea of Michael J. Fox that works charmingly well. It is as if we are watching an alternate universe version of "Marty McFly" who has crash landed into a Freudian / Oedipal nightmare.

This is not the sick/twisted gore fest you might expect. But rest assured he pulls the audience into one of the most odd 25 minutes that can be imagined.

Special Effects Guru, Screaming Mad George, puts forward his darkest work to match the demented ideology of this Absurdist/Surrealistic nightmare. You might laugh, squirm and drop your jaw at what you see. That is understandable. This is a dark comedy. However, I would be very surprised if the last portion of this film should fail to creep back into your psyche as you try to fall asleep. It may not be high art, but it is artistic and impossible to ignore.

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top reviewer

A gross blend of a 80s high school movie and shock horror film. No one can deny it's inventive and original, with a good dose of social commentary mixed in with the stunning special effects. Funny and weird, the Freudian symbolism in the beginning of the movie is actually well done and you'll have to watch the ending several times over in order to even comprehend what you see.

A lot of throwback cheeseball fun and some good political message, all bundled up with some really bad acting, and some great effects.

Gratuitously cheesy, poorly written, cast with a smattering of very bad young actors and very hammy older actors, Society employs a sophomorically conceived symbolism for issues that divide society; wealth vs. poverty, class vs. poor taste, young vs. old, and most importantly for a striving 80s sex romp, hot vs. ugly. The idea that a group of wealthy, privileged elite can literally consume the underclass is spelled out in literal horrific detail using cheesy hydraulic prosthetics (put to much better use in other 80s films). Still, if you like the B-movie horror genre, though this doesn't achieve bad cult-status, it could be worth a spin for your own home version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. There's just enough nudity to pique interest, but the hair...my God, the hair.

Posted as The Wayward Critic, @waywardcritic on Twitter and Facebook--check out my other reviews!

Deliciously twisted, the build up is decent, the blow off is awesome. Worth watching once just so you can say you saw it, and discuss with your arty friends.

Very interesting. I like the plot twist. But very different and unexpected.