Drunk on Film: Society

Drunk on Film: Society

Drunk on Film is an Instagram account born out of a love for Film and Craft Beer. In this column I'll focus on reviewing what I consider to be the best physical media releases, and whatever beer I have in the refrigerator at the moment.

Film: Society

Director: Brian Yuzna

Released: 1989

Blu-ray Distributor: Arrow Video

Rating:  ★★★★½


Beer: C.R.E.A.M

Brewery: Sixpoint Brewery

Style: Cream Ale (brewed with coffee)

ABV: 7.2%

 Rating: ★★★½


Opening thoughts:

Brian Yuzna, the director, is new to me. On the other hand, Brian Yuzna the producer (and Stuart Gordon collaborator), sits high in my esteem when it comes to genre filmmaking. The name carries with it a very specific type of b-movie aesthetic that I've come to love: Tons of practical effects, a solid amount of the grotesque, and most importantly, a self-aware sense of humor. The Brian Yuzna directed Society, is no different…and boy is that an understatement.

The film:

Receiving a pretty high billing, one of the first production credits of Society reads: "Surrealist Makeup effects by Screaming Mad George". My god, are you kidding me!? Now, don't get me wrong, I have no idea who Screaming Mad George is, but at this point, does it even matter? The credit is just so pretentious in all the right ways.

As the story opens, we're introduced to Bill Whitney, a wealthy high school senior who seems to have everything going for him. He's star of the basketball team, candidate for Student Body President, and has a sweet ass Jeep Wrangler to haul his cheerleader girlfriend around in. Even with all of these things going in his favor, something just isn't right. Bill is struggling to find his place in society but his family, his girlfriend, and all the other rich kids at school seem to be up to something.

While this sounds like a cheesy set-up (it is), and I did expect more of a biting social satire, this film really surpassed all other expectations. Propelled by expertly crafted paranoia and amazingly bad performances, Society culminates in what could literally be the most outrageous third act ever committed to celluloid. I’d REALLY like to discuss the third act, as it is filled with the aforementioned “surrealist makeup effects”, but I’d like to keep this Drunk on Film column spoiler free. Especially in this case, as I wish I could have gone in without knowing what to expect.

Please, I’m begging of you: Seek out this film. You will not be disappointed!

The Blu-ray:

Once again, this Arrow Video release is packed with supplements totaling over an hour and a half. For me, the stand-outs are the newly filmed discussions with Yuzna (17 minutes) and stars Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell (22 minutes). From Yuzna you get the origins of Society and his introduction to the film industry in general, where Warlock and company provide some great insight to the production of the film.

Other special features include a discussion with Screaming Mad George and the other special effects artists, a Q&A event with the director, and a short clip from Yuzna at the film’s world premiere.

Don't hesitate. Buy it!

NOTE: Other editions come with special packaging and a comic sequel: Society: Party Animal. Sadly, this edition is not reviewed as it was a limited release.

As always, drink responsibly, and enjoy the show.

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