Review: Society (1989)

Remember how I talked about sub-genres of horror before? We're going to delve into one of the more infamous sub-genres with today's selection. The little thing known as body horror. What's body horror? Well, relax for a bit and let me explain it to you. In general, body horror involves the rather horrible mutation and degradation of one's body. This can be the result of an alien parasite of some kind, science gone horribly awry, gaining abilities too powerful to contain, perhaps a curse of some sort, or simply a seemingly incurable disease. Please, take you time and click all of those. I'll wait.

We're used to waiting...we've been waiting for a long time.
Yeah, I think after glancing at those you have a good idea of what to expect out of body horror. Society is definitely a body horror film, but I'm not sure if it can be really classified with those others. It's rather unique in how it handles the idea of body horror, making me wonder why there aren't more like it. Oh wait, it could be that people just find it gross. Yeah, that might be why, as it dredges pretty deeply into the swampy mire of grody things. I can sum this up with a single image, but I'll leave that for later. For now, consider this your glimpse into what this movie offers and decide if you want to keep reading.

Yeah, that's gotta be about as sticky as it looks.

Our film centers on Bill Whitney, played by Billy Warlock (because then he never has to forget his character's name). Bill's a rich good looking guy with a best friend who will do anything for him, a "hot" girlfriend, parents who love him, and a sister who looks so good that Dougie from Satan's Little Helper would likely be confused why Bill doesn't want to marry her. But all's not perfect in his world, as he often dreams about being stalker in his own house by some sinister presence. He tells his therapist, Dr. Cleveland, about these dreams and how he feels like he's scared of his own family and even the doctor. The doc assures him it's natural and he goes on about his business. Also, his doctor looks like Arnim Zola from Captain America: The First Avenger, so I automatically don't trust him.

Close enough for me.
After that, we get the title theme, which is honestly the only really creepy part about the entire film (unless incest really scares you). It reminds me of how creepy the innocent song from the end of Poltergeist was. Just thinking about that song makes me shudder to this day. Well, that and the creepy old preacher from the sequel. Anywho, we then find Bill and home playing basketball with his buddy, Milo, as his sister's ex-boyfriend, Blanchard, shows up and she tells him to get rid of him. But, what Jenny fails to realize is that not only is her ex in her closet but he also stole Pee Wee Herman's bicycle. What? You mean that's not the same guy? I mean, sure, he looks thinner but come on. They really favour one another, at least in my opinion.

Francis honestly feels like he belongs in a body horror film.
Bill chases the guy out and comforts his sister afterwards and zips her dress up at her request, but as he does he notices something not quite right about her back. I'm not biology expert, but I am reasonably sure a pulsating lump isn't normal. Next we see our young protagonist at the school presidential debate where he's going up against the smartest kid in school, Martin Petrie, as Bill's token cheerleader girlfriend cheers him on. I still don't really see the appeal with her, but I also think I would tell my sister her back has a moving lump of flesh on it, so clearly me and Bill are on different wavelengths. During the debate he gets distracted by a girl (Clarissa) in the front row spreading her legs to get his attention. Yep, he's presidential material, alright. But he recovers and gets applause, even going on to win the big game afterward. Time for another trip to Dr. Totally-Not-a Nazi.

"Have I told you about my plans to put my brain into a robot body where my face appears on a screen on its chest?"
He tells the doctor that he feels like his parents care more about his sister than him and that he believes he may be adopted. The doc says he's simply being paranoid and assures him the he really deserves what's going to happen to him, which doesn't sound sinister at all. He explains it further, saying that Bill will make a wonderful contribution to society. That sounds even more sinister, somehow, and my Nazi mad scientist alarm is ringing like crazy here. At home, he goes into the bathroom to get some suntan lotion while his sister showers but finds himself perplexed by the strange position she seems to be in in the shower. I'd give him shit for peeking at his sister, but holy shit.

Picasso would have a field day.
So, of course, he opens the shower and she's totally normal, leaving him looking like that pervert who wants to see his sister naked. For that matter, there's a weird sort of sexual tension between them from earlier too. Dammit, get your incest fantasies out of my horror movies! Siblings are supposed to find one another gross, not get boners whenever one magically makes their tits appear on their back. Where the gross sibling stuff, movie? Where? Actually, nevermind, something tells me that statement is going to come back to haunt me later on in this review. After that bit of awkwardness, Bill heads to the beach and we get a sexual joke so obvious that it made me slam my face into my desk.

Somehow I think she's no stranger to having this sort of thing occur.
He meets spread-leg girl again and ends up running into a wall wearing lipstick. At his girlfriend's behest, he attempts to get them both invited to the party that Ferguson, the other rich guy who is a douche, is throwing. He doesn't get invited and she abandons him, but Blanchard manages to catch him and has him listen a tape that contains a recording of his sister's coming out party. And, according to the tape, she seems to have been doing a lot of "coming". Meanwhile, the parents find the microphone in Jenny's earring and figure out that Blanchard is likely responsible. Bill takes the tape to his therapist, demanding that he listen to it, and tries to confide to his girlfriend his worries, but she's more worried about the party she isn't invited to. This isn't helped when he arrives at his therapist's place to find that the tape no longer has the same recording but now seems fairly innocent, making him question things even more. He calls Blanchard to get another copy of the tape but finds his van wrecked and him seemingly dead.

Don't worry, Bill. It's probably just the guys from Epic Meal Time delivering an epic meal.
He finds out his family already knows about the wreck, making him even more paranoid, and he gets invited to the party he didn't even care about. At the party he dances with Clarissa and Milo asks about what happened with th wreck, but he avoids him. He confronts Ferguson about his part in his his sister "coming" and gets thrown into the pool. Clarissa show up and offers to let him change into something dryer while his clothes dry and they end up beginning to get all sexy until her body also bends in rather unnatural ways. He also gets to meet the wall with lipstick from earlier, which turns out to be Clarissa's mom. She's not a big conversationalist. He confronts his family the next day while they all sit around in lingerie...nope, we're going to avoid that for now...and he tells them he wants to move out.

Those incestuous undertones are getting a lot more blatant.

At Blanchard's funeral, Milo and him make the discovery that his body seems to be mostly fake, leading them to believe that he must've been torn up incredibly badly in the wreck. Or, you know, it's just fake. Petrie approaches him with the promise of information later that night, but when Bill finds him he's dead in his car and he goes to get the police. Upon returning to the scene, the car is different and Petrie's body is gone. The next day, he tries to share the news of his death but is made to look stupid when Petrie turns up alive and well. He returns home again and finds a crowd there with his parents and his doctor ends up drugging him while some paramedics take him away to the hospital where he awakes to what he thinks is Blanchard wrestling with the staff next to him. He leaves the hospital, finding that Milo followed him there only to be told he was dead, and Bill returns home to an even larger gathering of people as he is snared around the neck and restrained on the floor. He's then made aware that he was actually adopted and only raised so he could be a meal for the gathering of aristocrats around him, as they are actually a race of creatures who have lived among us for as long as we've existed. How do they go about feasting on us? Well, this is shown as they bring in Blanchard (who is still alive) as an appetizer and this right here happens.

I imagine that this is how a Silly Putty movie would work.
They "shunt" and basically absorb poor Blanchard while he's still alive the entire time. Clarissa, who is also one of them, frees Bill out of love for him and he's chased upstairs by his therapist who offers to give him a hand in the most literal of ways. He ducks into his parents' room and...give me second here...finds something a bit worse than incest in there. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely some incest happening, but not in the way we normally understand sexual relations occurring. His parents and sister are fused rather strangely and his sister offers to help him with any fantasies before he gets eaten. But, the topper on all of this, is that his dad comes shuffling out from under the covers with his face sticking out from between his ass cheeks. Do you think I'm kidding or embellishing this somehow? Think again.

I am convinced this entire film was built around making this one scene happen.
He escapes that nightmare, gets caught again, gets freed again by Milo, literally pulls Ferguson inside out, and finally flees this movie with his new girlfriend, her mother, and Milo. We get a closing joke about the judge needing a replacement for the inside out boy, and that's the end. The verdict? I really liked it. I mean, it's incredibly disgusting, bizarrely incestuous, really goofy at times, and never really quite explains what the creatures are, but I found myself reveling in it all. The effects were creative and interesting, the cast was appropriately hammy, Billy Warlock seemed confused through the film, and we got to see a death scene that I am fairly certain I've not seen in any other film. And all it took was letting Brian Yuzna direct what I can only assume is someone's fetish.

You just know someone is fapping to this right now.
It's possibly one of the strangest films I've ever watched but, as a result, it's also a movie I will never forget because it left a rather strange impression that I doubt even tons of booze could wash away from my memory. It may not stand up to Cronenberg's contributions to body horror, but it does stand out among the crowd as one of the stranger examples of the sub-genre. If you have a strong stomach, a curiosity for something you've likely never heard of (let alone seen), and find having a sister with back-breasts attractive, go check out Society. Just don't eat while watching it. So, until Billy Warlock announces that he's starring in an Adam Warlock film from Marvel Studios, I'll be here being glad that my sister and I have a somewhat normal relationship. Later days, bleeders.

And people wonder why I hate orgies.