The Film (4/5)
Brian Yuzna began his film career with a bang. He became producer to a young Stuart Gordon on film's such as Re-Animator and From Beyond. With 2 genre classics under their belt the two moved on to family fare with Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, but Gordon had to drop out at the last moment, and Yuzna had troubles with the production. Yuzna spent the mid-80's mainly continuing his work producing, but in 1989 decided to began directing with the film Society.
The film originally was written as a more straight forward conspiracy thriller, but was worked on by Yuzna and the screenwriters to be the blend of conspiracy, sci-fi, horror, and satire it would eventually become. The film stars Billy Warlock as Bill Whitney a teenage boy who feels out of place in his own family. As the film begins he is telling this to his psychologist who suggests medication, but essentially tells him that he has nothing to worry about. Of course, Bill is not satisfied with the answer he's given and begins to do his own snooping and begins to suspect, that not only is he an outsider in his own family. But that his family may be doing violent and perverse things behind his back. As he continues to investigate things get stranger and more bizarre, culminating in a revelation that has to be seen to be believed.
Society was shot by Brian Yuzna in 1989, but was unable to secure U.S. distribution for about 3 years. This in a sort of mad way makes Society this last truly great horror film of the 80's, and almost a farewell to a bygone era of bizarro horror filmmaking. The film begins playing like a typical 80's comedy, one could easily imagine that this is the Southern California version of a John Hughes film, and then slowly Yuzna begins to peel back the layers of the world he has created revealing the weirdness underneath. In this way Yuzna simultaneously pays homage to classic domestic science fiction cinema from the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers to the Stepford Wives, while moving it forward into a new decade. Of course, whether by intent or simply by the nature of the content itself, the film has an interesting social subtext that is as relevant today as it was in 1989.
Of course, no review of Society can be complete without mentioning the insane FX provided by Screaming Mad George. The film as it stands, is a fantastic piece of domestic science fiction cinema. The FX in this film are some of the gooiest and and most elaborate of the late 80's period, and truly add to the strange atmosphere being created by Yuzna.
Society had a solid DVD from Anchor Bay about a decade ago. It did leave room for improvement, and since DVD this has been a much requested title on the format. Fortunately, Arrow Video has seen fit to release the film on Blu-ray, and have done a spectacular job in doing so. The film is presented in a 1:78:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The image is quite clear, and offers up excellent fine detail. Colors are solid, as are blacks, and there is a healthy, natural grain structure present throughout the film.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track in English. The track sounds quite good with dialogue, score, and effects coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues with the audio.
If I gave the extra features anything less than a 5 then I would be considered mad. Everything down to the elaborate packaging on Society could be considered an extra. This set kicks off with a commentary by director Brian Yuzna, following up on this we get a series of interviews with the cast and crew including Yuzna and actor Billy Warlock, and of course FX legend Screaming Mad George. We also get a Q & A with Yuzna, footage from the premiere, trailers, music videos, a comic book sequel, a booklet with liner notes and MORE.
Society is a fun mix of teen comedy, domestic sci-fi, and gory horror. The film is an absolute blast, and has deserved much more attention than it's received over the years. The Arrow Video Blu-ray finally gives Society the attention and treatment it has deserved for so long. The Blu-ray looks and sounds phenomenal, and is positively LOADED with extra features. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.