Sunday, December 1, 2013

REVIEW: Society (1989)

With Black Friday just past us now, and the Christmas season coming up, there’s a lot to be said about the commercialism, superficiality and fakeness of society. So being that I need a cheap segueway to review Society, I might as well go ahead with that. Society is a criticism of society, and being that society has become even more obsessed with commercialism and marketing in the 25 years between the movie and this review, I might as well review Society, as Society is a critique of society!

Director: Brian Yuzna
Starring: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez

We start this masterpiece off with a scene of the main character, King 80s Mullet. I’m sure he has another name in this movie, but really that’s what he’s supposed to be. Take characters from any number of 80s flicks from Big Trouble in Little China, Gremlins, The Hitcher, Pumpkinhead, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare and every slasher movie ever made after the first Friday the 13th and throw them in a blender, and you’d get this guy. It’s practically alchemical. I mean, Dr. Frankenstein couldn’t have done so well.

So anyway, he goes out in the middle of the night with a knife, and then we switch to a scene with him talking to his psychiatrist. He says he’s afraid of the psychiatrist. I’d say this is a reason to keep talking to his psychiatrist, but the psychiatrist reacts in such a creepy way that I’m inclined to believe the psychiatrist is actually a serial killer.

Because the movie is about as emotionally consistent as a bipolar person off their meds, the next scene is about King 80s Mullet and his best friend, Cameron from Ferris Bueller knock off, playing basketball. The best friend character says King 80s Mullet will grow up to assassinate the president someday…I don’t really know what THAT’S supposed to mean. Maybe this is his future:

We also get a creepy guy in a closet assaulting King 80s Mullet’s sister, putting a hand over her mouth and shoving her down on the bed and everything. He says he wants to “talk” to her…sure, that’s why he hid in the closet and shoved her down on the bed like a rapist…I totally believe that. I also believe that the news isn’t biased at all, politicians are honest and M. Night Shyamalan had a point in his career where he made good movies. I’m not gullible at all.

He just wants to talk!!!

So they chase that guy out and King Mullet talks to his sister about her “coming out party.” Uh, excuse me? Is she a lesbian or something? And if so, is a party needed? Am I just uneducated on Beverly Hills upper-echelon culture? This comes up several times and is never really explained, even before we get the big “twist” of the movie later, so it’s just strange. Most movies go from normal to strange; this one goes from strange to stranger.

If you’re just so enticed by this world that you can’t bear to stop watching this film after scenes like the above, well, you’re in luck. Next we get some fun scenes like snails on fancy dinner plates out in the garden…

Truly escargot has made a comeback in Beverly Hills! It’s all the rage! We also get endless talk of this judge guy coming to the sister’s party. Do they just have nothing else to fill the void of their empty, meaningless, shitty lives? Why don’t they watch crappy 80s movies and spend time putting together elaborate reviews on a blog? That usually works for me. But I guess they didn’t have the Internet in ’89, so that must be why.

Then later that night, King 80s Mullet comes into his sister’s room and sees…

Yep. You just saw that. A girl with her boobs on her back. Or is it her ass where her vagina should be? I don’t know; thinking about it for too long gives me nightmares, and frankly I had enough of that with Pet Sematary’s cross dressing dead baby last week. I guess this scene served its point if the point was to make that girl un-dateable for the rest of her life until this movie faded into obscurity, though.

Then at the beach, King 80s Mullet and his girlfriend, Shallow Blonde Bimbo, are making out and talking about two things: a) how much they love each other and b) how much the girlfriend wants to go to this rich guy’s party. But kids using sunscreen as water guns put a stop to that riveting conversation!

Sunscreen is now a viable Call of Duty weapon.

Then we get a double whammy when a hot chick does the same thing to King 80s Mullet as he chases the kids…because, you know, that’s an acceptable way of flirting.

It could be her way of telling him she's a transvestite.

Then the creepy attempted-rape guy from the bedroom finds King 80s Mullet and shows him a tape recording of the family at the “coming out” party, apparently doing some kind of weird orgy. As King Mullet was already feeling alienated and like his family had adopted him, this only furthers his suspicions. At school the next day, King Mullet tries to tell his girlfriend about the orgy tape, but all she cares about is the party, and then she breaks up with him for being too selfish…yeah, high school fucking sucks. Wait till college, man; then you can have conversations like this fueled by too much weed and booze and a lack of sleep. That will be paradise.

He takes the tape to his psychiatrist, then comes back later to find that somehow, the orgy has been changed to non-suspicious talk of dancing and parties, nothing weird at all. So then King Mullet calls the attempted-rape guy again and tells him to bring another copy of the tape, BUUUUUTTTTTT….

Yep, a car crash! King Mullet tries to go dig around and find the tape, only to get told by the cops that he can’t be rummaging around at an accident scene – gasp! What oppressive pigs! Somebody call V for Vendetta! But really, what did he expect? The movie treats this like some kind of telling sign that there’s a conspiracy going on, but what the hell would happen otherwise? “Oh, well, he was your FRIEND…well, okay, come and poke around the accident scene all you want! Here, you can hold our guns as well!” Movie, I get it; you’re trying to be all high-minded anti-establishment here, but c’mon. It’s a fucking accident scene! Nobody would be allowed on no matter what, except law enforcement!

So, yeah, I guess King 80s Mullet goes to the funeral for the attempted rapist guy, and finds out that House of Wax and this movie are in the exact same universe:

We then get a strange scene that again tries to prove there’s something WRONG in big, bold, capital letters with the family, as King 80s Mullet goes home and tries to tell them about the death, but they don’t care, instead just talking about the party going on later. Which King 80s Mullet has been invited to.

Being that HE was the one so broken up about how all everyone else cared about was the party instead of the horrible death of one of their friends, he’s going to take the high road and not go, right? Nope! Next scene he’s at the party, dancing with that chick who squirted sunscreen on him earlier.

You can see the grief in his face.

Truly this guy is the picture of anti-establishment, going against the grain and proving that we can still have humanity and decency in these times of…oh, screw it; he’s just as bad as the rest of them. Part of me tried to rationalize this and say ‘hey, maybe that’s the point of the whole thing.’ But it’s not – the filmmakers were just clumsy clods. You want proof? How about the next scene?

Yeah, so King 80s Mullet and his new sunscreen-fetish girlfriend go back and have hot steamy sex in her room. Then they go out and she makes him tea, and says the following line: “Do you want it with sugar, cream, or do you want me to pee in it?” Then they’re making out. Her mother comes in, some big, hulking, mute abomination of nature (real good signs for her genes in the future…), and the movie expects us to think that yes, the mother is the weird one in this scenario! SHE must be the one we should be wary of! Certainly NOT the girl who just made a joke (?) about peeing in her new fuck-buddy’s tea!

"Mmm, yeah, talk some more about pissing in my tea!"
"MOM! You interrupted our tea-pissing session! YOU'RE SO GROSS AND WEIRD!"

How about another scene, where the ex-girlfriend comes out to him and berates him for sleeping with the sunscreen-fetish chick? Bitch, YOU BROKE UP WITH HIM. What’s the logic here??? I mean, yeah, I get it; high school girls can act crazy at times. But again, the movie is treating it like this is some kind of tell-tale sign as to the creepy, unnatural stuff going on in the movie’s world! It’s not! It’s just a crazy, stupid, random, illogical segment shoved awkwardly into the film!

This movie is about as subtle as a giant ape wielding a broad sword killing the entire staff of a nuclear bomb research factory. Eh, still better than Parents any day though.

We get some other part where King Mullet goes out to meet another kid in the woods, who promises to tell him some of the secrets going on. However, that gets cut short when the kid’s life gets, well, cut short:

*canned laughter*

However, when they bring the cops back, the body is gone and the car has been replaced. King Mullet goes to school later and tries to raise awareness to the whole thing WHEN….

Yup, the guy comes back to life without a scratch on him. Guess he took a trip to the Lazarus pit in between the previous night and now…snore…I’ve seen this kind of scene in a million other films.

Then King Mullet goes home, thinking he’s going to get the jump on his parents, but really there was a whole room full of people waiting to ambush HIM that he didn’t even see! How stupid do you have to be to not notice all those people while you were waiting in the dark? I guess about as stupid to take a role in a movie with imagery like this in it:

Yep, the next 20 minutes is pretty much just this: bizarre scenes of some kind of alien orgy. Kurt Vonnegut would be proud. They’re actually very well done scenes, and the makeup and hands-on effects are incredibly done for a movie of this kind of budget in 1989. Pretty entertaining shit. I mean, provided you’re into Rush Limbaugh’s interpretation of gay marriage laws.

So after fighting a knockoff of Jack Nicholson’s Joker…

How is that not Jack Nicholson as the Joker? It's identical!

…he comes across what I am fairly sure is the strangest thing I have ever seen in my life.

Well, okay, maybe not; I’ve reviewed things just as strange as that in the last few months. And even the last few weeks. So I’ll just rectify that to “the strangest thing I’ve seen in the last five minutes.” I mean, look at this. His family had some kind of incest orgy that somehow transformed them all into one horrific abomination, all with the class and subtlety of Gene Simmons on a particularly bad night:

And the sense of manners regarding the correct and polite use of the tongue.
This is the longest set-up for a joke using the childish term "butthead" ever to exist in the history of the world.

I’m pretty sure even Peter Jackson circa 1992 would call this a bit excessive!

So, anyway, I guess they get away, even managing to get one last insult in at King Mullet’s dad (“Butthead”…what a crowning moment of intellectual BURN!). Then I guess the movie is over. What did we learn from all this? Absolutely nothing.

Yeah, so this was…something, I guess. Apparently having alien sex orgies translates to social commentary; whodathunkit? This whole thing should be insufferable, but somehow it still kind of comes off as likable. It’s just such a strange, psychedelic experience, almost dreamlike, and I have to admit it has some pretty interesting moments. Compared to similar movies like The Stuff and Parents, this is actually a lot more intriguing, having just as much schlock as it does actual, real storytelling.

But even then, I do think it could’ve been better. I mean, what the fuck WAS this about, anyway? What were those alien things? How were King 80s Mullet and Mr. Attempted Rape the only ones in the whole town who weren’t in on it? I think it actually would’ve been more interesting if, by some kind of twist, King 80s Mullet was the alien, and the weird orgy participants were human – or at least, human in their own world. Maybe King 80s Mullet is some kind of amnesiac space traveler who crash-landed on a whole planet of these weirdoes, who masquerade as human beings.

Sure, that’s pretty outlandish. But it’s also cool. Hmm, I think I’ll get started on writing a script for a remake! Oh yeah, shooting for the stars! Look out for the remake in 2014, starring Seth Rogen as King Mullet and Ellen Page as the hot chick with the sunscreen.

Images copyright of their original owners. The film Society (1989) copyright of its original owners. I own none of these things.