I’m sure that Brian Yuzna’s directorial debut was sincerely meant as a political statement concerning the way rich individuals live in a different society from the rest of the proletariat. Even going as far to opine at a horror film festival in the UK that the rich are a part of the human race that have been infected by a parasite that has made them into a class of their own - intermarrying and therefore reducing their gene pool. With dialog like “The rich have always sucked on low class shit like you Billy boy” we get a bitter sentiment but one that sets out our directors political standing.
It’s a bizarre fable about privileged people from what appears to be an idyllic community in Beverly Hills, but right from the start we can guess that all is not what it seems. Although living within the community teenager Billy is obviously an incomer but is it Billy’s twisted paranoia or is he being set up as some diabolical sacrificial object for the enjoyment of the Society?
The problem with Society (1984) is the film offers nothing for the fans of the horror genre, or for that matter any casual viewer, until the last 25 minutes. It’s a section of the movie I believe is known as the shunting which in fact is quite disgusting, although saying that its an interesting piece of special effect from a Japanese gentleman known as Screaming Mad George an artist and former musician who become famous for gory special effects and has collaborated with Yuzna on many of his other productions.
The first hour of this film completely ruined it for me. Admittedly the 1980’s are not my favourite period and the film underlines my forebodings, bad hair, stupid clothes and fashions. The movie like many other ‘youth’ movies from that period has some awful dialog, corny role-playing and downright bad acting. I mean where did they find the films cast? There must be a storeroom marked ‘bad actors for 80’s period films’! The main lead is played by one Billy Warlock an actor best known for roles in American daytime TV shows and as a lifeguard in the first three seasons of Baywatch. Also involved in the shenanigans is Devin DeVasques whose main claim to fame is as a model when she was chosen as Playmate of the Month in Playboy for the June 1985 issue. The remainder of the cast are as unconvincing as the two main leads.
Although a success in Europe it was not released in the USA until 1992 where it was never received well. Yuzna later cited the films mix of ‘paranoia, black humour; satire and gore’ as the reasons for alienating mainstream US audiences. But I think the director is being overly generous!