Society (1989)


I think we can agree that this was the final goal and result of the ’80s
yeah, like the day after this movie the ‘90s started.
like this is the movie the ‘80s died giving birth to.

Society centers around a Beverly Hills teenager named Bill, as he struggles with increasing hallucinations and disturbing encounters that suggest his affluent family and acquaintances are at best incestuous murderers, and at worst what actually happens in the movie.


Surrealistic make-up effects by SCREAMING MAD GEORGE. Eyeballs by TECH OPTICS. -Even Society’s credits hint that you are about to see something magical.

Billy’s sister is dressing up for her coming-out party (a kind of bat mitzvah for wealthy gentiles) and her creepy ex boyfriend is a chunky peeping tom whom Billy removes bodily from the family home. Billy has a basketball game and cannot attend his sister’s big day, but following their parents’ apathetic dismissal of him, Billy and his sister share a ‘zip me up’ dress moment and a body horror moment – so we’re right on track for incest and gore. So far so good.


ain’t gonna lie, I’m really hoping for some incest. yeah, that’d be great.

This movie really shows what it’s like to be a teenager in the 1980s, playing basketball, going to the beach, getting solicited by hot girls at school, feeling adopted, wanting to fuck your sister, seeing fleeting visions of body contortion, the whole American experience.


Bill is pulled aside at the beach by his sister’s ex, who plays him a cassette (google it, kids) recorded by bugging his sister’s earrings – in which Bill’s family discusses her party as a giant inauguration into high class orgies, which we hear for ourselves later on the tape.

When he speaks to his shrink about this the next day the tape has been changed to a normal non-hyper-sexual family conversation and his sister’s ex has been conveniently killed in a car crash.

These occurrences are shrugged off by his family and he is sent to yet another Beverly Hills party where he hooks up with Clarissa, a fucking gorgeous girl from his school who is hot for his fresh man-junk.


Bill is later lured to the woods by his opponent in school politics where he finds him murdered – but when he goes back with authorities there is no sign of the body, and he is doped up and thrown in the hospital. His basketballing best buddy frees him and he returns with a crazed vengeance to his home where pretty much everyone he’s ever known turns out to be in a classist secret society who start melding into one giant flesh monster orgy.


Worth noting is that The Blue Danube is playing in this scene and it descends into a circus-sounding remix of the song.

He fists his way out of there with his buddy, and Clarissa (who is also one of them but hot, so, you know, can’t rebel against the system too much) and they flee society–the people, and the movie–in his parents’ Jeep.

Bill (played by Billy Warlock)–a sort of low-rent John Stamos with hints of Keanu Reeves–is so perfectly undersold that he becomes convincing, and once you are in the mind of a boy whose entire existence and lifestyle is run by a giant meatmonster of babyboomers trying to molest and consume you some real honest fear creeps in and you realize your mouth has been open for the past three minutes as your brain is watching aghast.


Society is a jack of all 80’s trades, and master of few.
It’s story is the exposed backbone of many other beautiful stories and themes explored in 80’s bizarre horror; a complete sampling of the buffet while never settling on any main course.
There are loose appendages of so many good movies in this film, the subtle all-American horror of Lynch’s Blue Velvet, the debilitating uncertainty and sexual boredom of The Graduate, the secret society + body horror stuff of Cronenberg. And while the movie is by no means as good as any of these, its very simple concept does not disappoint or feel the need to complicate itself: Upper class American society is fucking terrifying and disgusting, you are born into it and consume it while being consumed – anyone not from it gets devoured by it.
This is both the literal and metaphoric meaning of this film, and it’s just really refreshing to see a movie about what it’s about.

The only reason the hero Jeep Ex Machinas out of the movie with his friends at the end is because it would be depressing if he didn’t. I really wanted it to end with him screaming as his parents, acquaintances, love interests/sister and schoolmates devoured his flesh, but no one wants to end a movie like that.


They say ‘it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you.’ Society says ‘it’s not an Oedipus complex if they’re really trying to fuck you.’

Society almost creates a new genre, as we’ve all heard of the ‘sex-comedy’ genre this may be the first true sex-horror movie.
Now already you’re thinking of a vagina monster – and that’s cute, but I’m talking about the extrapolation of that notion, not just a very real fear of a woman with teeth down there. What are you.
Society has elements you would see in American Pie, but instead of playing those bits for shitty comedy it sees the abstract horror in them: ie every time Alyson Hannigan sticks a trumpet up your ass nobody laughs, the trumpet won’t come out and is now enveloping your flesh, the room starts to melt, your parents are watching and touching themselves, and Alyson Hannigan is your sister. <3
There is a real sense that the director or writer of this film walked in on his parents during a swingers orgy at a young age and the abject horror of this scene has been floating around in his tortured mind until finally being released here on the big screen in glorious technicolor.