Review: Society


Arrow film and video do nothing short of spoiling us rotten with their stunning 3 disc limited edition digi-pack release of Brian Yuzna’s surrealist classic ‘Society’.

They say the first bite is with the eyes, and whilst we a dealing with an epicurean themes, let’s have a look about just why this latest release – limited to just 3000 copies – is a decadence you cannot afford to be without!
First off the digipack layout, and frankly stunning art-work, is a real tribute to the artists and inspirations which brings to life the movies grotesque final sequences. The movie its-self is presented as a pristine high-definition transfer which, in a film whose visual imagery is everything, once again proves Arrow are masters of ensuring that these movies get the face-lift they deserve. The extras are the icing on the proverbial cake, and those familiar with the films more social and political satire will appreciate the time taken to amalgamate decades of interviews, plus a brand new one which delve deeper into the movies inspirations and subtext. If all of this wasn’t more than enough the limited edition version also comes with Society: Party Animal, the official comic sequel to Society, reproduced in its entirety!

This is a presentation of a film which is truly deserved of the name ‘limited edition’ – my advice is to invest now!

In terms of the movie, well it follows a young teenager, Bill, whose life begins to spiral through a range of phases from the paranoid to the absurd when he receives a tip off that his sisters ‘coming out party’ is nothing short of an incestuous orgy. Let me elaborate, this doesn’t mean that she’s gone all lezza and Billy doesn’t get it! Billy is from an upper class family, and as is tradition in such circles, once a girl comes of age she is presented as a woman for potential suitors – within the right class circles that is.  Still what he hears on the tape recorder far surpasses snobbery and prejudice! He begins to enquire about this and soon finds himself in a world he can’t understand, where corruption prevents the exposure of all manner of sordid practice, and everyone he has ever trusted works against him to protect the rich families in a community they dub the ‘Society’. He realises that his non-conformist outlook on life puts him far beyond the outsider he believes himself to be.

Imagine Stuart Gordon directed ‘American Psycho’ and you will be along the right lines.

There are plenty of metaphors and analogies running through the movies themes and scenes, but ultimately, as in all splatter-esk horror, when you put allegories such as the rich ‘consuming the poor’ and ‘morphing into whatever guise suits at the time’ into a literal terms, you are going to get a set of images you will never shake from your mind – the movie ultimately climaxes in the grand finale known as the ‘shunting’.

Before the grand finale, however, we do get to see a different, more psychological side to the movie which propels the plot forwards. (I admit the prospect of a psychological-splatter movie must be an oxymoron!) It is however, what it is, and there is no doubt that the films original hook, before we see any of the infamous splatter is that you don’t really know what going on – not in the bonkers way where things are so absurd they become confusing, more so that the movie’s plot is revealed to us in timely bite sized chunks. The twists and turns in the movie are presented on the same need-to-know basis as the main character meaning that when he sees and hears things which are then conveyed as false, you don’t know whether they are or not. For the genre this style of mystery was refreshing as it kept you guessing all along, not really that something was amidst, but what exactly it was. On that point, I don’t believe anyone on earth would be able to predict what befalls some of the characters in the later scenes! It’s not incredibly deep stuff, but it is entertaining none the less.

Ultimately as the movies story moves to the big reveal, the movies splatter roots (for those who don’t know Brian Yuzna was a producer for re-animator) in a show stopping final 20 minutes which in reality are far more grotesque than anything I could possibly describe in words. Up to watching this movie ‘shunting’ conjured up images involving something like a car bumping into another, or perhaps the sport curling. Now it makes my arsehole twitch and my eyes water! Oh yes, and if you are (un)fortunate not to having witnessed the last sequence in this film let me assure you that this display of gru and goo is possibly the pinnacle of 80s splatter mayhem. I love it, and it’s given a new lease of life in this transfer. After seeing this your passion for prosthetic and practical effects over CGI will be further affirmed!

Overall in both movie and in presentation Arrow’s release of ‘Society’ is nothing short of outstanding. As a film ‘Society’ is a great example of all of the ingredients of 80s horror coming together in one package, as a release, its got everything you could want in one package! Its competently acted, with a good range of characters, it’s got a great plot with a clever twist which sees the grotesque splatter effects being a requirement for the film to work as opposed to being a gratuitous add-on the genre became infamous for. Get over to Arrow HQ and order now before they are all gone!

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