Back in the eighties a film called 'Re-Animator' shook up the modern horror scene and it's collaborative team of Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna instantly garnered the respect of the genre fan community. So when word of Brian Yuzna's 'Society' started to spread anticipation ran high (more so when stills from Screaming Mad George's effects work spilled into the horror press) - so would 'Society' deliver the goods and sate fans expectations?

As the film begins we meet young Bill Whitney, although popular with his peers as high school football hero and all round clean cut nice guy he has some seemingly worrying mental problems.Paranoid and feeling distant from his own social climbing family he struggles to remain in touch with his care free demeanor. This paranoia isn't helped one bit when he starts to not only have disturbing minor hallucinations but his world is turned upside down when one of his friends plays him a secretly recorded tape of his parents and his sister indulging in what sounds like full blown sleazefest orgy.

As he realises that no one will listen to him his feelings of alienation grow. Things start to get weirder by the minute as everyone around him seems to be creepily consumed by their over obsession with society life and the undercurrent of sexual perversion grows, Bill realises that he has to make a choice either dismiss his paranoia and conform to society or face his fears and fight back!

'Society' is without doubt one of the finest genre movies of the 1980's, and the reasons for this are double fold. Firstly, the film itself is one of the most mischievously devious and perverse films of that period. Hiding under the fa�ade of yet another straight teen horror movie, 'Society' it lulls viewers into a false sense of security with expectations of a standard template (clean cut teens have fun, same teens get killed, killer unmasked) but straight after offering up your amiable teen lead you're perceptions are grabbed firmly and shaken until you're just as uneasy with the environment as our lead Bill Whitney. There's a sense of dread and foreboding while you wonder were the hell this devious little gem is going and when you get to the finale it's a massive suckerpunch of visual mayhem that will have any horror fan rubbing their hands in absolute glee. Of course, in it's most simplistic terms, 'Society' has taken the basics from the equally chilling classic 'Invaders from Mars' (the original that is) and formed its own perverse interpretation.

The second reason for 'Society's significance in excellence must be through it's ability in hindsight to perfectly encapsulate the essence of that specific era - the 1980's. While there seems to be some sort of interest in this period in modern film, from the dumb teen comedy hits to bewilderingly critically acclaimed retro bunkum like 'Donnie Darko' (film of the year? who are they kidding?) Let's compare�sure 'Donnie Darko' tries to play like a dark vision of that period but one part 'American Beauty' and two parts middling 'Twilight Zone' episode don't make a classic movie (will critics still be woefully dribbling about this in twenty years time? I doubt it) but 'Society' on the other hand plays initially like all those aspiring American dreams from the period of middle class school kids looking to shows like 'Beverly Hills 90210' for their role models of a false 'society' and 'Society' captures that delusion perfectly and turns it on its head with deranged and unnerving delight. And years later, here we are still discussing this gem.

So it may be rather obvious that I love 'Society' - a classic genre movie that not only challenges the often restricted boundaries of the horror movie but perfectly captures and signify's the death knell of the whole ghastly period that was the 1980's. Brain Yuzna's first directorial work is a vastly impressive one and deserves your attention even to this day.

It's also baffling that after all this time of waiting for it to appear on DVD in the English market that two editions should come along almost side by side. Anchor Bay in the USA have produced their own variation but this release from Tartan in the UK is the one we're looking at and happily I can say that the film really hasn't looked any better. The anamorphic widescreen print is pretty much flawless, sharp and colourfully vibrant, a delight to view. The 2 channel stereo audio is similarly solid and is clear and hassle free. So no complaints there. But what about the extra features?

Well in order of presentation let's take a look first off is the theatrical trailer which is riddled with atmospheric spoilers so if you haven't seen the film then avoid this until after viewing. Then we head into Tartan's now expected section of many text based pages. Of course we'd much rather some filmed bonus features (come on Tartan, how about it?) but at least the text we're generally offered is of a respectable standard. Once you get past the usual Filmography pages (here for Yuzna and leads Billy Warlock and Connie Danese) we get to the Film Notes sections and this time round their from both leather jacketed critic Mark Kermode and rightly proud director Brian Yuzna - both informative and enjoyable reading but as I say filmed discussions would have upped the pleasure ante by a great amount.Then of course wrapping things up is the long serving Tartan Terror Trailer Reel, sure these trailers are cool but by now I'm sure most folk will have several of these releases in their collection and this section will be starting to wear a little thin. But then I suppose you could always ignore that it's there? And the main thing we're here for is the film itself and it looks damn good here!

It's been a long time coming but at long last it's here - 'Society' is one of the most refreshingly original and perverse shockers to have spilled onto the mainstream market and is one of Brian Yuzna's rightful genre greats. Tartan's release maybe very much bare bones but the film looks absolutely cracking. Newcomers to 'Society' are in for a treat and old fans will enjoy rediscovering what a slick shocker it is. Buy now!

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by Tartan
Region All - PAL
Rated - 18
Ratio - Anamorphic widescreen
Extras : Theatrical Trailer, Film & Production notes, Filmographies, Trailer Reel