Director: Brian Yuzna
Starring: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards & Ben Meyerson
Released by: Arrow Video
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Marking the directorial debut of Producer Brian Yuzna (Re-Animator, Dolls), Society focuses on privileged teenager Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock, Days of Our Lives) who senses a distance from his parents and sister. Suspecting that he was adopted and constantly kept in the dark of secret family affairs, Bill’s paranoia reveals a startling truth about the wealthy class that surrounds him. Devin DeVasquez (House II: The Second Story), Evan Richards (Rock ‘n‘ Roll High School Forever) & Ben Meyerson (Dinner at Eight) co-star.
Soaked in a surrealistic tone, Director Brian Yuzna’s paranoia run amok opus oozes with originality and nightmarish imagery. Thematically focused on teenage alienation and the superiority of the privileged wealthy class, Society admits the viewer into the luxuries of the rich who are hiding more than meets the eye. As Bill Whitney (Warlock) struggles with his outsider anxieties, his therapist, friends and family assure him that his paranoia is only getting the better of him. Increasingly neglected from covert family functions, Bill is vindicated when his equally paranoid sister’s ex-boyfriend, David Blanchard (Tim Bartell, Meatballs Part II), provides him with an alarming tape recording. Convinced that his family is involved in an incestuous relationship and guilty of possible murder, Bill’s worst fears become a reality. As Blanchard is mysteriously killed, the frazzled Bill falls prey to the sexually inviting Clarisa (DeVasquez) who may be involved in the conspiracy. With much of its runtime spent toying with the possibility of these paranoid-induced theories, Society blindsides the viewer in its final act with a slimy exhibit of sexual perversion and masterful effects work from Screaming Mad George (Predator, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master). A slow-burn that allows its unsettling atmosphere to take hold, Society is a fitting companion piece to Director David Cronenberg’s many body terror classics while, standing firmly on its own feet as a cult oddity with social commentary that is even more potent today.
Restored in 2K, Arrow Video debuts Society with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Personally approved by Director Brian Yuzna, Society looks flawless. Skin tones read warmly and naturally while colors, most appreciatively seen in the bathing suits of Devin DeVasquez and Heidi Kozak, virtually jump off the screen. In addition, natural grain remains intact as dimly lit scenes carry inky, pleasing results and the red lighting of the film’s finale capturing its intended appearance. Painstakingly cleaned of countless instances of dirt and debris, the results are obvious and impressive. Equipped with an LPCM 2.0 mix, dialogue never misses a hitch while music and other such background noise is handled appropriately. Dripping with bonus content, special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director Brian Yuzna,Governor of Society (16:52) where Yuzna discusses his entry into the picture business producing hits like Re-Animator before transitioning to the director’s chair on films like Society and Bride of Re-Animator. Masters of the Hunt… (22:22) sits down with Actors Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell as they recall their experiences making the film. In addition, The Champion of the Shunt (20:39) interviews FX Artists Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson on their incredible efforts crafted for the film. Also included, a Brian Yuzna Q&A (38:34), Brian Yuzna – Society Premiere (1:56), the Theatrical Trailer (2:08), a Screaming Mad George Music Video (6:09) and a 21-page booklet containing the excellentKeeping It in the Family essay by Alan Jones and production stills. Finally, a 56-page mini, two part comic book sequel entitled Society: Party Animal and a DVD edition of the release wrap up the plentiful supplements.
Akin to a nightmarish Salvador Dalí painting come to life in upper class Beverly Hills, Brian Yuzna’s Society is a bold directorial debut that dared to stand out and chose to play on paranoid dread over buckets of gore. Far from a squeaky clean production, Screaming Mad George’s jaw-dropping effects work of melding flesh is unlike anything seen before that equally impresses and detests for all the right reasons. Making its long-awaited Blu-ray debut in a fantastically flesh-covered packaging, Arrow Video awards viewers with a near perfect technical presentation of this cult favorite and an exuberant amount of supplements to meld into. Although still early in their transition to the U.S. market, Arrow Video’s desirable release of Society has all the bells and whistles to become one of the finest releases of the year.
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