Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Society (Arrow Blu-ray) - You're One Ugly MotherSHUNTER

Let the shunting begin! Back when I first reviewed and enjoy Society for a column I was doing for It Came From 1980x hosted by The Liberal Dead, I didn’t realize the impact that a viewing of Society would have on me. The first three quarters of the picture are pure commentary on social standard and mores that seem to affect us in some form another whether part of the cultural elite or whether we are treading water in the middle of a sea of ghetto. The game never changes. He who has the money makes the rules. Those rules are never in your favor (even if you have the money) and ultimately, the design of society is to make most of us consumable goods for the upper echelon. That’s  Yuzna’s Society spelled out in a precise and mysterious melodrama that has a powerhouse finish courtesy of one of the greatest practical effects men of our time, Scream Mad George.

Here's my original It Came from 1980x write up:

My first viewing of Society was on DVD. It was given a bare bones release with little to tantalize the senses  or arouse the curiosity zones. I’m happy to say that Arrow Video has remedied that  with something of an overcompensation for the years that Society has held second fiddle to other Yuzna releases. What Arrow has done has been to set the bar extremely high for cult classic releases that are in dire need of an appreciating audience. In part it harkens back to our recent HorrorSexy podcast about the importance of physical media, and how physical media absolutely has a place, should not be phased out and is in fact alive and well among collectors and appreciators of great art. What the Arrow Society’s release brings to the table beyond the beautiful picture and audio quality you should be used to be now in an Arrow release is a genius aesthetic and packaging that creates a great tome out of a movie that was previously relegated to a double feature set. If I call it a work of art, I am not creating hyperbole. I am simply letting you know that the limited edition packaging is to be admired, appreciated and imitated if possible.

The package: is a limited edition digi-pak with new artwork from Nick Percival. Hi Killer Klowns design is terrifying. His Fango Tom Savini cover perfectly captures that legacy of the man and He understand how to create the true balance between dark humor and horror that is essential for appreciating dark fantasy and especially society. There are faces that seem to jump out at you from beneath the ooze of the shunt. The title and faces are embossed as is Yuzna’s name which gives proper credit to a horror maestro. The entire outside cover wraps our feature in a blanket of sticky looking flesh that feels almost Necronomicon like (although not rubber like the old DVD special edition of Evil Dead 2 or the limited edition Beyond, Eibon book cover). The outer-case artwork continues on the digi inside that folder around the Blu-ray, DVD and booklet inside as well as Society postcard with the traditional cover/poster art.

The booklet inside with essay by Alan Jones puts the release in historical perspective and provides a place in the Yuzna canon. Plenty of stills in side, credits for the movie and the overall release as well as transfer notes includes. The cover art for the booklet continues the Percival art.

The two part Society: Party Animal mini-graphic novel is a great way to sequel this picture without stepping on the toes of the original work. Edward Murphy and Colin Barr wrote the story and the artwork is from Shelby Robertson, Andrew Dalhouse, Neill Cammeron and Martin Kielty. This isn’t the original writing team behind the release, but it represents a strong continuation of the original story in comic fashion. Each artists brings something unique to the story from sexy to disgusting. The shunt is alive and well in these pages. It’s a quick but fun read and I urge newbies to the Society legend to watch the movie first then enjoy the graphic novella. Try not to slather it in petroleum jelly while reading it. This is exclusive to the limited edition.

Of course it look fantastic. It’s a 2k digital transfer of the film, Yuzna approved with both a Blu-ray and DVD to enjoy. It is presented in the original stereo 2.0 audio presentation. Those are the boring bits for all you tech guys. The real meat of this release is in the new commentary from Yuzna, the new interview with Yuzna, the new interviews with Billy Warlkock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell. These are things for true horror dorks. My favorite is the new featurette that shows off the FX team because these are the guys that turn a great idea like Society into an unforgettable, disgust-fest. Screaming Mad George is brilliant and David Grasso and Nick Benson join him for this featurette. There’s also a Screaming Mad George music video ‘Persecution Mania”, a unique inclusion on this set. The extras are round out with a backstage conversation with Yuzna at the Society premiere and Q&A from 2014 at Celluloid Screams Festival. Literally hours of extras!

With releases of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night with graphic novel and clever packaging and Scream Factory’s release of The Babadook with pop up art work and book cover, let’s hope the trend continues where appropriate. There is no reason to believe that we cannot have the extra package filled to brim with commentary and critique as well as extra upon extra of expository work on an important release. Society proves it is possible to craft a release with such care as to inspire a new generation of fans which is precisely what the movie deserves. As a reviewer, I call Society an intimidating release because it is completely slammed with material even beyond a traditional Arrow offering. This is more in line with the Grindhouse Releasing offering of Cannibal Holocaust from 2014 that was bounded by booklet and soundtrack and extras and Easter eggs and exquisite packaging. As the characteristic still frame from Society is a man with his head coming firmly out of and having merged with his own ass, I strongly urge you not to follow suit and to pick up this release before this limited edition packaging is retired. Long live the shunt.

Available for order now:

From Arrow:

After producing Stuart Gordon’s hit Re-Animator, Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead III) turned his hand to directing with 1989’s Society, and gave birth to one of the ickiest, most original body horror shockers of all time.

Teenager Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) has always felt like the odd one out in his wealthy, upper-class Beverly Hills family. For some reason, he just doesn’t seem to fit in. But his sense of alienation takes a sinister turn when he hears an audio recording of his sister’s coming-out party, which seems to implicate his family and others in a bizarre, ritualistic orgy. And then there are the strange things he’s been seeing – glimpses of people with their bodies contorted impossibly out of shape… Is Bill going mad or is there something seriously amiss in his neighborhood?

Packing stomach-churning grue and thought-provoking social commentary in equal measure, Society is a biting horror satire which culminates in one of the most gag-inducing “climaxes”’ in all
of horror history.


Newly remastered 2K digital transfer of the film, approved by director Brian Yuzna
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
Original Stereo 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary by Yuzna
Governor of Society – a brand new interview with Yuzna
The Masters of the Hunt – a brand new featurette including interviews with stars Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell
The Champion of the Shunt – new featurette with FX artists Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson
2014 Q&A with Yuzna, recorded at Celluloid Screams Festival
Brian Yuzna in conversation backstage at the Society world premiere
‘Persecution Mania’ – Screaming Mad George music video
Limited Edition Digipak packaging featuring newly-commissioned artwork by Nick Percival
Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
Society: Party Animal [Limited Edition Exclusive] – the official comic sequel to Society, reproduced in its entirety in a perfect-bound book

Limited to 3000 copies

Region: Free
Rating: 18
Cat No: FCD1105
Duration: 99 mins
Language: English
Subtitles: English SDH
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Stereo 2.0
Discs: 2

One last thing... for fun I want you to go to this page and insert the word shunt wherever the author puts the word fuck. Repost your favorites.

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