READER RECOMMENDATION: SOCIETY(1989)

Our first entry in the June review writing contest: submitted by J.S. Roberts.

DIRECTED BY: Brian Yuzna

FEATURING: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Patrice Jennings, David Wiley

PLOT: Teenage Bill Whitney (Warlock) ostensibly lives on easy street.  He lives with his filthy rich parents and hottie sister in posh Beverly Hills, plus he has a babe cheerleader girlfriend and is reasonably popular.  His future looks bright.  For Billy, all this makes him “uneasy”.  He tells his shrink that he thinks something very weird and possibly evil lurks under his upper-class society.  As he tries to scratch the surface to uncover what’s beneath, he soon finds something unlike anything ever.  In the history of society.

Still from Society (1989)

WHY IT DESERVES TO MAKE THE LIST: Simply, the bravura finale.  Society takes it’s time towards it but when it comes…watch out!  Surreal, disgusting, unique, and an absolute must see.  People melt, melt into each other, melt into…things . To continue would be giving away the film’s powerhouse trump card placed securely up it’s sleeve.  But I find the film’s overall tone to be the second weirdest aspect.  It plays out like a made-for-TV melodrama and keeps you intrigued enough to stick with it, then the “shunt” (ending). Powerful stuff, the shunt is.

COMMENTS: Society really is an (purposefully?) overlooked gem.  Perhaps it’s greatest shortcoming , and maybe the reason it doesn’t have a greater cult following, is that for most of it’s run time it plays like a queasy hybrid of “The Hills” and “The Twilight Zone.”  Bland, beautiful people with bland problems living in a sort-of alternate universe; Society is a not so subtle satire on the lifestyles of the rich and shameless.  Society is a rare, off-the-wall, and greatly satirical American film that offers a lot of food for thought.  Which is a good thing, because you’re not going to be hungry after.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“A bizarre fable that starts like a TV soap but soon darkens into a disturbing thriller… the ‘surrealistic make-up designs’… will stretch even the most inelastic mind.”–Time Out Film Guide

One thought on “READER RECOMMENDATION: SOCIETY(1989)”

  1. I remember watching this I was younger. The cover freaked me out as a kid when I saw it in the rental shop. I finally watched it when I was a bit older and thought it was nuts. For most of the film it plays out like some creepy soap opera and then the finale is just plain bonkers (and quite gross). Some people might not stick it out through the reasonably slow paced opening but its well worth it if you stick with it.

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