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Friday, March 20, 2020

Society (1989)



Society is one of those movies that I never got around to watching. Not sure if it was just not available at the shops I was renting at in the early nineties. Though to be fair at some point this transitioned from that to everyone saying, “You have to watch this movie… it is totally something that you would love”. I have this weird issue with people telling me that. Probably some deep-seated insecurity or perhaps the need to be contrary. I ignored all of the suggestions over the years, but then Joe Bob Briggs played it and of course I had to watch it.

Poor Bill is a rich white Beverly Hills kid that doesn’t get along with his family. But unlike some of the overly dramatic spoiled children we get in other movies this time he might have a point. They make little effort to include him in their snooty society events and don’t mind that he misses his sister’s coming out party for a basketball game. Things are clearly messed up as we later get hints tossed at us that Bill’s sister is way too close to their parents… like creepily familiar. Shit is getting weird, though this is nothing yet.

Bill ends up figuring out that he is adopted and doesn’t really belong or fit in with his family and I don’t mean in an afterschool ‘you don’t understand me’ kind of way. This society that they belong too is actually made up of a race of beings that aren’t human. They are shapeshifters and are able to melt their bodies and twist into all kinds of shapes. They also like to have giant gooey body pile orgies and don’t care about how closely you are related. Though the real deal breaker for Bill is when he finds out he has been groomed to be consumed by the group. Basically, you get melted into a pile of them as they absorb you. Not sure if it is for nourishment or if they are just really creepy. I’m probably going for the latter.

Okay, what the hell movie? This flick from director Brian Yunza is incredibly messed up and I’ll admit enjoyably twisted. The plot is paper thin and makes no effort to hide the fact that Bill is being setup. You have over the top nasty characters that seemingly get away with anything they want to. This is also one of those flicks that has the villains pulling off overly complicated and unnecessary tricks to mess with Bill. I mean they just plan on killing him on the special night anyway so why all the extra effort? I guess you could attribute the plans to them being evil and twisted, but the story already did a good job of establishing that.

Things get weird... very weird
But honestly Society isn’t about plot and character. Instead this is all about the payoff at the end. A bunch of naked rich white people melt and consume a single victim, Blanchard, who was dating Bill’s sister at one point. There is a giant pile of flesh that melt into and around him until the leader basically climbs up his butt to finish him off… I think that is what happened. Seriously what the hell movie? When it is Bill’s turn to “contribute” to society he escapes because I guess their only weakness is being fisted up their butt (again with this…). Not sure why the rest didn’t stop him. Then again does it matter.

There are two reasons to watch Society. One is for the many WTF moments that come early and often. The second is for the payoff at the end where we get to see some insane special effects work that is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen before. Now these are both very good reasons to watch the movie. But as for this cult status that it seems to have gained, I’m not sure I agree. I’ve finally seen it and it’s cool, but this certainly doesn’t have the performances or re-watch value of say Re-Animator or The Dentist (another movie directed by Yunza). I’m going to recommend this one but at the same time not buy into the cult classic status that has been endowed on it by some overeager fans. If you can I would watch it on Shudder with the Joe Bob Briggs takes mixed in during the breaks.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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