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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Society [Blu-ray]

 

(Brian Yuzna, 1989)

 

      

 

Also available in the UK, on Blu-ray from Arrow, the day before:

Re-Released on Blu-ray in August 2017:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Wild Street Pictures

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:39:01.518

Disc Size: 42,393,318,985 bytes

Feature Size: 29,203,978,752 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.90 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Custom Digipak case (see photo below)

Release date: June 8th and 9th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary;

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Brand new audio commentary by Yuzna
Governor of Society - a brand new interview with Yuzna (16:52)
The Masters of the Hunt - a brand new featurette including interviews with stars Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell (22:22)
The Champion of the Shunt - new featurette with FX artists Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson (20:39)
2014 Q&A with Yuzna, recorded at Celluloid Screams Festival (38:34)
Brian Yuzna in conversation backstage at the Society world premiere (1:56)
'Persecution Mania' - Screaming Mad George music video (6:09)

Theatrical Trailer (2:08)
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

DVD of the Feature

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: 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.

 

 

The Film:

The directorial debut of horror producer Brian Yuzna, this low-budget shocker was an overseas success but sat on the shelf for three years before gaining a U.S. release. Billy Warlock stars as Bill Whitney, the troubled scion of a wealthy Beverly Hills family. Feeling like an outcast his entire life, Bill begins seeing Dr. Cleveland (Ben Slack), a therapist who's trying to help him reconcile his conflicted feelings about his parents, who seem to lavish more attention on his sister Jenny (Patrice Jennings). Bill then discovers that his doubts have more of a foundation in reality than simple teen angst. After he receives a copy of an audio tape of horrific sounds at Jenny's coming out party, Bill becomes convinced of the existence of a secret "society" of wealthy people preying on outsiders, and that his family is involved.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

A bizarre fable that starts like a TV soap but soon darkens into a disturbing thriller about an idyllic Beverly Hills community where something is subtly skewed. Handsome teenager Bill (Warlock) feels uncomfortable with his affluent peers. But the usual teen insecurities take on a more sinister aspect when his sister's ex-boyfriend Blanchard plays him a clandestine recording of her 'coming out' party which suggests perverse, incestuous sexual initiation; but when Bill's shrink later plays the tape back to him, he hears only innocuous conversation. How does this connect with rich kid Ted's exclusive teen clique, or Blanchard's death in a road accident? Is there a dark conspiracy, or is Bill losing his marbles? First-time director Yuzna is happier with the sly humour and clever plot shifts than with the appropriately iconic but sometimes dramatically unconvincing cast. He nevertheless generates a compelling sense of paranoid unease, and shifts into F/X overdrive for an unforgettable horror finale. Suffice it to say that the 'surrealistic make-up designs' by Screaming Mad George (who did the cockroach sequence in Nightmare on Elm Street 4) will stretch even the most inelastic mind.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

 

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Society gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films.  It is dual-layered with a max'ed bitrate for the 1 hour 40-minute feature. As the screen captures can attest the visuals are impressive - tight lines with depth present and bright realistic colors and a minor sense of texture. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels and it looks much better than I would have anticipated. It is transferred in the slightly bastardized 1.78:1 frame - probably opened-up from 1.85.  It's pristinely clean - only a few very minor speckles - showcasing an impressive rendering coming from a healthy source. This Blu-ray does its job very well with no digital manipulations or artifacts of any kind.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Arrow use an authentic linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 2304 kbps. There are plenty of squishy effects that come through with aplomb sounding deep, rich and chillingly "eeewwww". The score is by Phil Davies + Mark Ryder (Transcers) and adds some unique flavor to the narrative accentuating the unusual aura. Very solid and spine shilling. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Extras :

Absolutely loaded with supplements, including many new specifically for this release including a brand new audio commentary by Brian Yuzna and his detail will be appreciated by those wishing to delve further into the enigmatic Society. We also get a 17-minute brand new interview with the director entitled Governor of Society discussing the 'making of'. The Masters of the Hunt is a 22-minute a brand new featurette including interviews with stars Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartell reflecting on the production. The Champion of the Shunt spens 20 minutes with FX artists Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson with specifics on Society. We also get a 2014 Q&A with Yuzna, recorded at Celluloid Screams Festival running shy of 40-minutes, and a short sound-byte of Yuzna in conversation backstage at the Society world premiere. 'Persecution Mania' is the 6-minute Screaming Mad George music video. There is a theatrical trailer and the limited edition Digipak packaging featuring newly-commissioned artwork by Nick Percival which also includes a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills and posters. Part of the LE Blu-ray is Society: Party Animal - the official comic sequel to Society, reproduced in its entirety in a perfect-bound book. A DVD of the feature is included.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Pretty hard to pigeon-hole Society into one genre - sexy, teen, black- comedy with horror leanings and social commentary? It's no wonder this film is looked at with such introspection and wide following since its release. This film has a lot to say. The Arrow Blu-ray package is their usual superlative effort. It's stacked for a film highly worthy of re-visitation, all in a very cool package. How can we resist? Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

May 12th, 2015

      

 

Also available in the UK, on Blu-ray from Arrow, the day before:

Re-Released on Blu-ray in August 2017:

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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