Awfully Good: Society


Society (1989)

Director: Brian Yuzna
Stars: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards

A teenager begins to realize that his anxiety and paranoia about his wealthy family and friends may not be so crazy after all.

Few movies leave an impression on you quite the same way SOCIETY does. It was an oft-discussed cult flick back in the early days of online movie communities, with horror fans sharing both its praises and gruesome screenshots. It was intriguing enough for 15-year-old me to track down a copy and I remember getting through the first hour and thinking, "Hey, this isn't so crazy. Those people on the Internet are full of it." That’s when you get to that scene at the end and your life is irreparably changed forever.

It was another successful year at the JoBlo Staff Halloween Party.

SOCIETY comes from the twisted mind of Brian Yuzna, writer of the classic FROM BEYOND, and writer-director of the less-classic FAUST: LOVE OF THE DAMNED and RE-ANIMOTOR sequels. Yuzna's made a name for himself with a bold willingness to take things to the extreme, specifically when it comes to Lovecraftian body horror and stomach-churning, near-comical practical effects. SOCIETY definitely has plenty of that (even decades later the antiquated makeup and effects still work surprisingly well), but it has more to offer than just gore and gross-out gags.

David Cronenberg’s Beavis and Butthead movie took things waaaaay too literally.

For one, the film is a great paranoia thriller with ramping tension and a claustrophobic vibe. Baywatch star and awesomely-named actor Billy Warlock plays Bill Whitney, a Beverly Hills teenager born in to the nation's elite. But even though he has everything at his fingertips, Bill feels like he doesn't just fit into his perfect life. People look at him strangely. His friend's keep disappearing. And his parents and sister seem a little too close. It's familiar cinematic territory, but Yuzna uses some true themes of teenage isolation and confusion for maximum benefit.

“Quick, do your impression of an inverse bowling ball!”

SOCIETY also works as an allegorical satire, taking dead aim on the upper class, mocking their worst qualities, and turning their predatory nature and narcissism in to literal horror. A lot of this still feels very relevant (...not sure why, with a movie about disgusting monsters parading as one-percenters...) and it’s honestly so well-crafted, were it not for the broad comedy and overall trashiness, I’d feel a little bad for including it in this column.

It may have a lot on its mind, but that’s not to say that SOCIETY takes itself too seriously at all. There are enough funny and silly moments throughout that let you know Yuzna is in on the humor. I don’t think it’s possible that a movie with a literal butthead joke doesn’t have a sense of humor.

From the lesser known book “What Not To Expect When You’re Expecting.”

But, really, SOCIETY is all about the shunting. (Such a great word. SHUNTING.) If you’re not familiar with this term and haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend not reading further and just experiencing it for yourself. If you don’t care about spoilers, however, essentially the rich and powerful are revealed to be members of an altogether different species than the rest of us. They can also "shunt," which involves contorting and merging their bodies for ultimate sexual gratification as they literally feed off the poor. The film ends with a hideous cannibalistic body-transforming shunting orgy where the writhing bodies of dozens of white people begin melding with one another in slimy, disgusting decadence. There’s really not a written description that does it justice (see the Best Parts video below), but suffice to say it makes Michael Rooker's final form from SLITHER look like Dakota Fanning. The effects by Screaming Mad George (CURSED II: THE BITE) during this sequence are legendary. They may not look 100% realistic, and there’s not much blood or gore in the traditional sense, but it's still so nauseating and off-putting that you can’t look away.

The film ends in the best possible way, with the protagonist finally confronting his high school nemesis. And by "confronting," I mean fisting him, reaching up inside his torso and literally pulling his head out through his ass, turning his entire body inside out.

And now a mental cleanser for all the previous screenshots. You’re welcome.

So this Halloween, make a fire, turn off the lights, and sit down with a loved one to watch a Cronenberg-esque f*ck-pile that perfectly represents the current socio-economic differences in our world. Trust me; your life isn't complete until you've seen SOCIETY.

“How do you like your tea? Cream, sugar... or do you want me to pee in it?” And other memorable dialogue.

Some of the sexiest and not-so-sexy parts i.e. the Shunting. (NSFW)

Playboy Playmate Devin DeVasquez shows off her assets, but trust me, you will not enjoy most of this nudity.

Fit right in! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Bill finds something in his car
  • Something incesty happens
  • Bill witnesses body horror firsthand
  • Someone gets called a butthead
  • Someone mentions "society"
  • Clarissa's mom is weird

Double shot if:

  • Someone is getting too old for this shit


Thanks to JB and Justin for suggesting this week's movie!


Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: Oddly enough, Brian Yuzna also wrote HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS.
Source: JoBlo.com



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