One of the most infamous horror films of all time is the iconic Re-Animator based off of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories and directed by Stuart Gordon. The producer who came out to Hollywood to make his success which started with Re-Animator was none other than Brian Yuzna. He had never attempted anything on that level before nor did he even fully understand the roles of making a film, but he knew what he loved and had strange visions to bring to the world. Upon meeting screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, writer of Alien, the two began to work together on a story that would unite them as screenwriter and producer with the intent of bringing Stuart Gordon back as director hot off the success of Re-Animator! The story was called The Man, which dealt with the paranoia of a woman discovering all men are actually aliens. As many films tend to do this unfortunately fell apart to Yuzna’s dismay, but as one door closes another opens. Rick Fry another screenwriter brought Yuzna a script about a Beverly Hills Blood Cult called Society, which had many of the themes of paranoia that excited Yuzna in O’Bannon’s The Man screenplay. Making a deal with a Japanese production company, Yuzna promised to deliver a sequel to Re-Animator if they would fund Society first. Once the green light was given, Yuzna along with writer’s Rick Fry Woody Keith rewrote the story to become one of the sickest, most twisted, commentaries on the wealthy known as Society!
Bill Whitney has mental breakdowns in the middle of the night feeling alienated from his whole family and everyone around him in the rich upper crust of Beverly Hills. His psychiatrist keeps telling him it’s all in his head but Bill can’t help but see strange things that bother him and everyone around him just makes him feel insane. It gets even worse when certain friends of his that are not fully indoctrinated in the higher class of society begin telling him they’re seeing things that don’t make sense either. Bill descends into madness giving into all the strange things he sees to discover how deep it all goes but what he discovers may drive him more insane then living in denial of the horrors that surround him. Grotesque and lavish abominations take hold as nightmares don’t even begin to describe the horrible visages of what the rich truly look like.
This is Brian Yuzna’s directorial debut and I would consider it a masterpiece that is impossible to top. The ideas within the film are so original and the feeling of paranoia hits every beat throughout the film perfectly. For a majority of the film you witness Bill dealing with many strange characters and are disgusted at how the wealthy view any not of their ilk. The dialogue and snobby acting really makes you uncomfortable watching these people as you develop a hatred for them little by little. This is all of course dialogue, direction and acting that build the paranoia into the grand finale, which you have to fully be prepared for some of the most grotesque visuals you will ever witness on film.
Screaming Mad George is the name of one of cinema’s most notorious practical FX designers. He was suggested to Yuzna by the same Japanese company that helped fund the film and both Yuzna and George bonded over their love of Dali’s paintings. Surrealism was the key to creating the visuals and they both wanted the look of those paintings to be brought to life on screen. Most of the film is built up with what we hear and what is suggested with one or two moments of strange visuals but are then barraged with a twenty minute finale of debauchery and carnal pleasures that the rich indulge in, sucking the life out of the poor. The end sequence is amazingly done but definitely not for the weak of heart. It’s not unwarranted if anything it enhances the ideas of how far the wealthy goes to please themselves and survive in a process called shunting that is partially inspired by Yuzna’s own nightmares.
This film speaks to the Reaganism era in much the same way John Carpenter’s They Live does but it also transcends into many decades and speaks to the contemporary with movements such as occupy Wall Street, this films relevancy will always be fresh in a time where the meek are trampled under the foot of the wealthy. It is a horror film of which scares me the most, people are the monsters. Where do they come from? What makes them? Why do they revel in their evil? Most of the film’s success comes from European countries that look at it as art, with its initial release in America being scoffed at and berated, but I almost feel that it was shunned because it made us look at ourselves and made us think about who we are. Granted there are a few plot points not completely hashed out but even Yuzna admitted he wanted it open ended that way. It’s a great film and a horror movie that makes you think as well as cringe!
8 More Days til’ Halloween! Halloween!
8 More Day’s til’ Halloween! Silver Shamrock!