Monday, October 19, 2009

Society (Brian Yuzna, 1989)

We all want to feel like we belong to something that is greater than ourselves. In olden times this belonging void was filled by either dying of typhoid at early age (thus eliminating the need to discover a future outlet) or heed the nonsensical words uttered by undersexed men in robes. Call me someone who is full of piss yet nary a drop of vinegar, but as far choices go, that's not much of a selection. Nowadays, though, it has become a lot harder to find a group or thing to latch onto; in that, there so many different types of diversions, that choosing the one that is right for you can take as long as twenty years–I didn't discover I was into garish eyeshadow until I was 19 years old. Well, in Brian "Return of the Living Dead 3" Yuzna's twisted and strange Society, that choice is made for you, as in you're either a member of a society or you're not. What these so-called members of society do exactly in their precious society isn't quite clear early on, but you know you want to be associated with them one way or the other. Being the member of an affluent family, captain of the football team and the debating team, relatively handsome, the owner of a black jeep, and dating the head cheerleader, you'd think Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock from TV's Baywatch) would be a card carrying member of society.

However, that's not even close to being the case with the seemingly perfect high school senior. In-between psychiatry sessions and paranoid delusions, Bill has always suspected that there was something weird going on with his family. Up until now, the Beverly Hills, California teen's semi-regular bouts with hallucinatory madness have severely clouded his judgment when it comes to appraising sinister tomfoolery. This all changes when his sister's recently dumped (and extremely possessive) boyfriend (Tim Bartell) shares with Bill some of his disturbing discoveries while stalking her.

It turns out his paranoia is justified; this is especially true when he hears a tape of his sister Jenny (Patrice Jennings) getting it on (fornicating) with mom and dad.

Also giving Bill something to think about in the "my family is a highly organized collection of freaks" department was when the troubling sight of Jenny's irregularly located nipples first entered his visual arena. It's true, that he spots her back boobies through a blurry shower door. But still, there was definitely some mammary gland displacement going on in that spacious bathroom.

The fact that a guy with such a long list advantages in life, and, not to mention, a beautifully symmetrical head of hair, is having such a hard time fitting into a community that is pretty much tailor made for him was just one of the many fascinating things about Society, a film that dares to illuminate the dangers of yuppie acceptance, while simultaneously grossing out everyone within a four block radius.

If I was ignorant enough to think that the film's slight satirical bent, the pink bikini and acid wash accented gams of a structurally confident Heidi Kozak (Slumber Party Massacre II), and the front row exhibitionism of a noble-minded society member played by the delectable Devin DeVasquez (House II: The Second Story) was all Society had to offer in terms of corruptible nectar, I was promptly enlightened the moment the members of society began to disrobe at a swanky get together. Because what happens after they remove their clothes is something I will never forget.

Quite often when scribbling about encounters of an erotic nature, I will use the word "commingle," as in, "their firm bodies commingled with one another like a festering stew," to describe the act of inflamed human genitals lashing out at one another in a veiled attempt to find liquid satisfaction. It's a saucy metaphor for copulation, one that has yet to fail me when it comes to overstating the obvious. That is until I came face-to-face with the regurgitated mucus stain that is your average society orgy.

An extremely disgusting cornucopia of unknown wetness and coalescing flesh, the members of society have an irregular mind set when it comes to partying while naked. Gleefully feeding off the corporeal essence of any non-members of society they can get their elitist hands on, the debauched participants gather around their "meal" and absorb their fleshy nucleus by drawing it in through the pores of their skin.

I'll admit, I was genuinely appalled by this vile display. But a part of me was transfixed by the profound level of wrongness that was slimily playing out in front of my eyes. I mean, did I really just see Bill's dad transport his face to the dark, and normally uninhabited place, where his anus lives? (It gives new meaning to the crustacean colloquialism: "You've got crabs, ass-face!") Second in terms of did I just see that was the sight of Bill's mom with hands for feet and his sister's head inside her vagina. Whether these things actually transpired or not, there's no denying that the images witnessed during this gooey sequence will haunt me for days to come.

video uploaded by superillusion88


  1. Hey, long time no see.

    Anyhow, this movie looks amazing. I'm going to need to check it out.

  2. heh - "SOCIETY" is one of those weird little oddities that I liked the first time, & I'm happy to own it, but loathe to ever it watch again. It's just fuckin' gross, like watchin' a YouTube video of somebody draining the world's largest boil or something. Enthralling but VERY off-putting. :)

  3. Not that the rest of her oeuvre is that impressive, but I wonder if Devin DeVasquez leaves House II on her resume or immediately fakes a violent coughing fit if anyone asks her about it.

    I'm a little embarrassed just for watching it, and that only happened because they give it away free with the first House.

  4. I LOVE Society, and watch it every chance I get! Yes indeed, Billy, the rich are NOT like you and me!

    This is a movie that is just amazing in the fact that it ever got made. And the practical effects (by my favorite-named special FX artist, "Screamin' Mad" George) are of a scope and scale I despair we'll ever see again. It's like those squishy sequences from FROM BEYOND with all vestige of restraint and good taste removed--which is aces in my book!

    Just a weird, wrong, and totally entertaining movie, and one I often recommend to friends who thereafter stop returning my calls.

    Oh, and by the way, I thought for the longest time (until I learned to use imdb and bought the dvd, actually) that Billy was played by a young Emilio Estevez. I'm still not altogether sure this is not the case, covered up by his agent thereafter.

    Great write-up!

  5. I've never seen this movie before. I'm definitely intrigued to check it out now.

  6. Cliff: Hey, Cliff. Thanks for dropping by.

    J. Astro: Do you have a link to this boil draining video? ;)

    Knarf Black XIV: I'm not sure what Devin DeVasquez thinks of her first-rate resume, but I do know that the word "oeuvre" is quite tasty.

    According to IMDB, House and House II: The Second Floor scribe, Ethan Wiley, has five movies in development; one with the title "Baby Zombies."

    The Vicar of VHS: Yeah, the goo in From Beyond is strangely similar to the goo in Society. In fact, they would both make for a terrific double-bill; you know, if you're into watching things secrete ooze.

    I'm no math whiz, but wouldn't Emilio Estevez be an old-ish Emilio Estevez around the time Society came out?

    Keith: Despite all the yuckiness, it's actually a semi-intelligent satire about 1980s era greed and excess.

  7. Few words Describe this Demons in Human Form