“SOCIETY” (Arrow Blu-ray Review)News Ken W. Hanley
It’s an unfortunate thing that Brian Yuzna is rarely considered among the likes of John Carpenter, Roger Corman, Wes Craven or even Stuart Gordon. While his work as a producer is undeniable, Yuzna’s directorial work on NECRONOMICON, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and the RE-ANIMATOR sequels are equally impressive in their own right. Yet there might not be any film in Yuzna’s oeuvre that is as astonishing, creepy and absolutely disgusting as SOCIETY, a film that this horror fan has grown exceptionally fond of throughout the past six months. And now, having seen the film both on 35mm film and via its foreign Blu-ray, I can confidently say that American fans of the film will find no better edition of the film than on Arrow’s new Blu-ray, which is a true triumph in the world of collector’s editions.
For those unfamiliar with the film, it follows the trials and tribulations of Billy, an upper class jock who feels alienated from his family and on the borderline of complete psychosis. However, Billy begins to doubt his fragile psyche once he begins to learn about his families’ odd behavior, and that there may be a bigger problem at hand than not ‘fitting in.’ Part monster movie, part psychological thriller, SOCIETY is a horror flick that has character, humor and a whole load of jaw-dropping practical SFX work, which has earned it the status of a bona fide cult classic.
Now, after years of being out-of-print on DVD, SOCIETY is ironically given the five star treatment, with Arrow Video offering a 2K digital video transfer and the uncompressed PCM track for an optimum viewing experience. The video quality of SOCIETY is among the finest of any of their releases; the grain is much less visible than on the previous foreign Blu-ray, and the picture quality (especially during the red-tinted climax) is absolutely astonishing in clarity. Likewise, the PCM track offers an excellent and authentic audio experience, with the music, dialogue and sound effects having never been more dynamic than it is here.
Likewise, Arrow went all out for the features on the disc, offering the SOCIETY fan’s fantasy especially for those interested in the just exactly how this insane piece of work was made. Perhaps the best addition to the set is “Governor of Society,” in which Yuzna recaps the film’s development and reception while also offering a spotlight on the film’s more odd and insane moments, all of which he takes gleeful pride in retelling. A close second is “Masters of the Hunt”, in which several of the film’s stars talk about how they (hesitantly) boarded the project, some excellent anecdotes on filming (especially from a surprisingly candid Billy Warlock), and how the film was ultimately received, all with their own unique personal takes. SFX heads will surely love the “Champions of the Shunt”, which features Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson talking about the impressive (and occasionally problematic) experiences with the make-up and prosthetics used on SOCIETY. The set also sports a brand new commentary with Yuzna, moderated by Severin Films’ David Gregory, which is incredibly informative and personable, but ultimately not nearly as engaging as the short and sweet featurettes.
Arrow didn’t just stop there, however; SOCIETY also features some excellent features that weren’t expressly produced for the disc as well. Obviously, some fans will love to see Screaming Mad George’s Music Video for “Persecution Mania”, which gives a further insight into the wild mind of the appropriately named artist, as well as his multi-faceted career as both artist and musician. Another interesting, yet incredibly short, feature is a video Q&A with Brian Yuzna back at the world premiere of SOCIETY, where you can see more passion, piss and vinegar in Yuzna’s statements as he makes some curious declarations about the film’s intentions. And if that’s not enough, the film also comes with a 2014 chat with Yuzna as well as the official comic book sequel to SOCIETY, entitled PARTY ANIMALS, as well as limited edition artwork gorgeously conceived by occasional FANGO artist Nick Percival.
While this set is limited to only 3000 copies, any self-respecting horror fan would be a goddamn fool to miss out on this stellar Arrow Video release of a genuinely amazing fright flick. Practical SFX fans and cult classics may have already made up their mind, but if not, the gorgeous 2K transfer and glut of special features should make this a top contender for best home media release of 2015. So make your way to your local Blu-ray retailer, fright fans: SOCIETY waits for you.