Sunday, October 6, 2013


Every horrorhound's favorite month is upon us, and to celebrate, I'll be dishing out a personal pick from the genre for every day in October. Some will be obvious and rather unoriginal (sorry that I like movies other people like), while some will be a little more oddball and off-the-wall. Some may even challenge your idea of what constitutes a "horror" movie. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the month with some good movies, even if they aren't ones I recommend!

Today's Pick: Society (1989)

If there's one thing I unabashedly love about genre films from the 80's, it's the abundance of off-the-wall practical effects that became so commonplace that you expected them in almost every horror film. Some films could even get away with being terrible but remain watchable as long as they splurged on the effects budget (a perfect example of this would be 1986's Spookies). Society certainly isn't terrible, but it also isn't spectacular when it comes to its narrative. However, its effects are so insane and extravagant that they more than make up for any other flaws the film has.

Taken on its own, the plot is actually pretty interesting. Bill (Billy Warlock) is the son of a wealthy upper class family, but always feels out of place. When his sister's boyfriend plays him a tape recording of his family talking about having sex with each other, Bill begins looking into what exactly is wrong with his family and the upper class crowd they are a part of, and what he finds involves a cult of shape-shifting beings and a giant gathering known only as "The Shunting."

While the politics on display are fun (even if they are extremely on-the-nose) and the overall idea of the film is a good one, there's a lackadaisical quality to most of the acting and pacing that keeps Society from being a complete triumph. However, it's nothing so egregious that it ever sinks the picture. That being said, if it weren't for the gonzo effects on display, Society probably would have faded into obscurity.

But man oh man, those effects. Screaming Mad George was the man responsible, and he had a fair amount of credits to his name by this point, working on films like John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China and one of the best 80's genre films, Predator. This film seemed to be his opportunity to truly cut loose and do something completely unseen before. The stuff you see in Society is so demented and wacky that their very nature becomes impossible to reproduce. I won't spoil some of the gags, but rest assured that they are disturbingly crude and hilariously transgressive.

Director Brian Yuzna made his directorial debut with Society, coming off of his successful collaboration with Stuart Gordon on both From Beyond and Re-Animator. While some of his later efforts had some cheesy charm (specifically The Dentist), none ever quite matched the sheer madcap delight of his first outing. While it's not a classic or anything, anyone who loves seeing practical effects dominate the screen needs to seek out Society, if only to witness one of the most maniacal examples of unfettered creativity the horror genre has to offer.

Tuesday will bring us one of Peter Jackson's best films that isn't Dead Alive a.k.a. Braindead. See you tomorrow!

previous entries

No comments:

Post a Comment