Society

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society

Society (Arrow Video)
The late Eighties grist mill churned out so many shocking horror films – many of them shockingly bad, it has to be said – it took something that was a different shade of shocking to stand out. And if you ever saw ‘Society’ upon its release, love it or hate it, you certainly won’t have forgotten it. Director Brian Yuzna was riding high on the success of producing Reanimator, and star Billy Warlock was something of a celebrity for his part in Baywatch (and dating Erika Eleniak!), but no one expected this odd pairing to produce a film quite so visceral… or indeed so thought-provoking. Of course, there’s the [spoiler alert!] little matter of Screaming Mad George’s loony effects, given full rein in the gooey climax of the movie, a bloodthirsty orgy of melting bodies and anal fisting known as ‘The Shunt’, but the film builds creepily towards its gross-out finale, pondering the concept that the upper class are in fact a whole different species to the hoi polloi, quite literally sucking us dry for their own nourishment and callous entertainment.  Warlock plays Bill Whitney, a nice-but-dim all-American boy who can’t quite decide whether the complete emotional detachment he feels from his family, not to mention the oddly placed protrusions on his sister and the back-breaking contortions of his new girlfriend he keeps glimpsing from the corner of his eye, are just paranoia, or indicative of some awful secret, quivering queasily beneath the superficial veneer of Beverley Hills. Needless to say, it’s the latter and everything descends into a neon-lit nightmare of slimy body horror – but then what did you expect from one of the guys that brought you the delirious ‘From Beyond’? However, it’s the high concept underpinning the porno gore that has given the film longevity and status way beyond its meagre budget, and still elevates it far above the likes of Human Centipede et al; although some of the effects are painfully seat of the pants – ‘butthead’ in particular (you’ll see…) – this has actually aged far better than it has any right to. Throw in some generous extras, including a fascinating twenty-minute doc on SFX guy Screaming Mad George and his Dali fixation, and you’ve got something that any Eighties horror aficionado should be proud to own. Ian Glasper

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