Brian Yuzna’s Society plays like a warped episode of Beverly Hills 90210 directed by David Cronenberg. It’s a paranoid body-horror filled with black comedy and gruesome practical effects. It’s icky, creepy and funny yet it lacks any real scares to keep you on the edge of your seat. This 1989 effort hits the spot however, and it’s a must-see for fans who like a lot of latex in their horror.
Billy Warlock is Bill Whitney, a privilaged Beverly Hills kid who feels a little different. He doesn’t fit-in and feels alienated from the rest of his family. He confides in his therapist but he can’t shake the feeling that he doesn’t belong. Billy begins to suspect that his family are very, very different and he sets out to learn their monstrous secret.
Yuzna’s off-kilter perception offers Society a dream-like tone that feeds well into Billy’s paranoia. However, the big draw here is the twisted practical effects by Screaming Mad George. This is on full display in the film’s climatic ‘shunting’ scene which sees Yuzna take body horror to new levels.
Society didn’t connect with audiences when it was released back in 1989, but it has gained a cult following since then. It’s easy to see why. It’s very much a product of its time but the theme of teen isolation is a lasting one. It might not be for everyone, but Brian Yuzna’s film pushed the boundaries of horror and managed to make a lasting impression with cetrain genre fans. If you haven’t seen it, now’s the time.