I like Brian Yuzna. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I like Brian Yuzna, and there is nothing that you can do about it. If I come off as defensive, it's because I get weird looks whenever I exculpate the man most famous for producing Re-Animator. In my humble opinion, Yuzna is underrated as a director. Let's skim his track record, shall we? The majority of horror fans seem to enjoy Bride of Re-Animator. It's not a patch on the original, but it's an entertaining popcorn picture. The Dentist rules, and while The Dentist II: Brace Yourself gives credence to the sophomore slump (forget AIDS research; where are all of the sequel-itis fundraisers?), I still had fun with it.
Ever heard of Progeny? It's an above-average "alien abduction" flick that holds its own against similar titles such as Communion and Fire in the Sky. See? Yuzna isn't so bad. Sure, he went through a drought like any other filmmaker (*bloody cough* Wes Craven *bloody cough*), but by and large, he has forged a sound body of work. 1989's Society was his directorial debut. It's no surprise that it bears some resemblance to the films of one Stuart Gordon, namely From Beyond. It takes awhile to get to the gooey stuff, though. The first hour concentrates squarely on Bill, an awkward teenager who senses a disconnect within the scope of his family domain.
We've all been there. "My parents don't understand me. I think I was adopted." For the lot of us, it's just a phase. In Bill's case, his angst may not be unfounded. He hears disturbing things in a taped conversation between his sister and his folks. They speak of an initiation, a rite of passage. At this "party," there will be food, beverages and copulation. "First, it will be someone your own age," explains Daddy Dearest. "Then, we all join in." I'm paraphrasing, but WHAT THE FUCK? Did I hear myself right? Yep. Society deals with incestuous orgies, but that's just the lubricated tip of the iceberg.
This film is fucked up, but again, you have to be patient to get to the notorious climax. It's definitely worth the wait. And honestly, I didn't mind waiting. I found the exposition to be intriguing and well-paced. The acting is decent, the visuals are surreal and our main character is sympathetic. Obviously, the special effects are cool. How about a round of applause for latex guru Screaming Mad George? I can't say that the instances of "extreme fisting" looked terribly realistic, but fuck, it was the 80's. This was the decade that brought us Rawhead Rex.
Initially, I was only going to award Society three-and-a-half Z'Dar's, but in writing this review, I realized that I didn't have many complaints about Brian Yuzna's first foray into cinematic skullduggery. That's why I never settle on a rating until after I've written my essay for the day. As for the complaints I do have, there are a few loose ends left dangling. I won't get into details, but suffice to say, I had questions that the film didn't answer. Overall, I appreciated how the script used gross-out horror tactics to comment on class warfare. There is plenty of substance bubbling beneath the curdled, gelatinous surface.
A friendly reminder...if you're ever invited to a "shunting," TURN and RUN.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 10:28 PM