Society (1992)

R | 99 mins | Horror | 28 February 1992

Director:

Brian Yuzna

Writers:

Woody Keith, Rick Fry

Producer:

Keith Walley

Cinematographer:

Rick Fichter

Editor:

Peter Teschner

Production Designer:

Mathew C. Jacobs

Production Company:

Wild Street Pictures
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HISTORY

       The surname of set dresser Franklyn M. Gottbetter is misspelled onscreen as "Gottbette."
       Principal photography began in Jan 1989, as noted in a 2 May 1990 Var production chart. The film was completed by May 1989, when a Var article announced Society as one of two completed films from Wild Street Pictures, established in 1988 as the “U.S.-based production entity” of Japanese distributor Channel Communications. Partial financing for Wild Street came from private Japanese investors and a line of credit with Mitsubishi Bank. Wild Street planned to sell distribution rights to Society and its other completed film, Nightwish, at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.
       Society screened at Cannes on 13 May 1989, as noted in the 31 May 1989 Var review, which called it “an extremely pretentious, obnoxious horror film” and described the climactic “shunting” scene as “sickening.” Los Angeles, CA-based Zecca Corp. eventually acquired U.S. distribution rights and released the film in Los Angeles on 28 Feb 1992. A 26 Feb 1992 HR brief noted that the picture marked Zecca Corp.’s first theatrical release.
       Critical reception was uniformly poor. The 28 Feb 1992 LAT review noted that the “long-shelved” film owed its U.S. release to a three-month run in London, England, where it was a “surprise hit” in West End theaters. LAT named surrealist make-up effects person “Screaming Mad George” as the “real star” of the picture, and an HR review of the same date stated that Screaming Mad George’s biggest effects sequence, the shunting scene, required fourteen puppeteers and “the ...

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       The surname of set dresser Franklyn M. Gottbetter is misspelled onscreen as "Gottbette."
       Principal photography began in Jan 1989, as noted in a 2 May 1990 Var production chart. The film was completed by May 1989, when a Var article announced Society as one of two completed films from Wild Street Pictures, established in 1988 as the “U.S.-based production entity” of Japanese distributor Channel Communications. Partial financing for Wild Street came from private Japanese investors and a line of credit with Mitsubishi Bank. Wild Street planned to sell distribution rights to Society and its other completed film, Nightwish, at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.
       Society screened at Cannes on 13 May 1989, as noted in the 31 May 1989 Var review, which called it “an extremely pretentious, obnoxious horror film” and described the climactic “shunting” scene as “sickening.” Los Angeles, CA-based Zecca Corp. eventually acquired U.S. distribution rights and released the film in Los Angeles on 28 Feb 1992. A 26 Feb 1992 HR brief noted that the picture marked Zecca Corp.’s first theatrical release.
       Critical reception was uniformly poor. The 28 Feb 1992 LAT review noted that the “long-shelved” film owed its U.S. release to a three-month run in London, England, where it was a “surprise hit” in West End theaters. LAT named surrealist make-up effects person “Screaming Mad George” as the “real star” of the picture, and an HR review of the same date stated that Screaming Mad George’s biggest effects sequence, the shunting scene, required fourteen puppeteers and “the biggest prosthetic ever seen.”
       Rights to the film were set to be sold at auction on 15 Dec 2005, as noted in a 29 Nov 2005 HR item.
       Society marked Brian Yuzna’s theatrical directorial debut. Yuzna had previously produced several films, including the cult horror release, Re-Animator (1985, see entry.)
      End credits include “Very Special Thanks” to: Billy DaMota; Michael Muscal; Tom Smith; Mitsubishi Bank, Hiroo Bank; Kay’s Gourmet Catering, Inc.; J.R. Catering; Starcasting; Flip Bimstein; Blanche Bimstein; Cathy Cherry Yuzna. End credits also state: “Filmed at GMT Studios, Culver City, CA.”

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1992
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1992
p. 24
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 2005
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Feb 1992
Calendar, p. 14
Variety
May 1989
---
Variety
31 May 1989
p. 33
Variety
2 May 1990
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Wild Street Pictures presents
A Keith Walley / Paul White production
A Brian Yuzna film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Best boy
Elec
Elec
Elec
Elec
Elec
Key grip
Best boy
Elec/Grip
Grip prod asst
Dir of photog, 2d unit cam
Dir of photog, 2d unit cam
Dir of photog, 2d unit cam
1st asst cam, 2d unit cam
1st asst cam, 2d unit cam
1st asst cam, 2d unit cam
Gaffer, 2d unit cam
Gaffer, 2d unit cam
Elec, 2d unit cam
Key grip, 2d unit cam
Grip, 2d unit cam
Dir of photog, addl photog
1st asst cam, addl photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Storyboard artist
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting at
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst props
Set dresser
Set dresser
Swing gang
Cost coord, Taylor Set Service
Carpenter, Taylor Set Service
Carpenter, Taylor Set Service
Carpenter, Taylor Set Service
Carpenter, Taylor Set Service
Painter, Taylor Set Service
Swing, 2d unit cam
Swing, 2d unit cam
COSTUMES
Cost des
Set costumer
Set costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp by
Mus comp by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd supervision by
Supervising sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
ADR ed
ADR rec at
ADR mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley rec
Foley mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Surrealistic make-up effects by
S.M.G., Inc. head tech
First tech
Foam tech
Foam tech
Fiberglass mold tech
Fiberglass mold tech
Lab tech
Lab tech
Lab tech
Lab tech
Lab tech
Lab tech
Lab tech
Shunting puppeteer
Shunting puppeteer
Shunting puppeteer
Shunting puppeteer
Eyeballs by
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Make-up/Hair artist
Addl make-up
Addl make-up
Addl make-up
Addl make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Donna Anderson
Casting
Exec in charge of prod
Prod coord
Scr supv
Set nurse
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Loc mgr
Craft service
Craft service
Prod asst
Prod asst
Set prod asst
Casting asst
Transportation capt
Transportation coord
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Extra
Filmed at
Culver City, CA
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt double
Stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Timer
SOURCES
SONGS
“Blue Danube,” by Johann Strauss, arranged by Mark Ryder & Phil Davies; “Eton Boat Song,” composed by A.D.E.W., new arrangement by Mark Ryder & Phil Davies, new lyrics by Mary Ryder & Phil Davies, contralto Christine Dix, soprano Helen Moore; “Tonight,” lyrics and music by Mark Ryder & Phil Davies, produced by Steve Parr; “If You Ain’t Got Money,” lyrics and music by Mark Ryder and Phil Davies; “Clarisa’s Song (Make It Tonight),” lyrics and music by Mark Ryder and Phil Davies, recorded at Carol Street Studios, London.
PERFORMED BY
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 February 1992
Premiere Information:
Cannes screening: 13 May 1989; Los Angeles opening: 28 Feb 1992
Production Date:
began Jan 1989
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra-Stereo®
Color
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In Beverly Hills, California, teenager Bill Whitney senses that he is different from his wealthy parents, Jim and Nan, and his younger sister, Jenny. Bill tells his therapist, Dr. Cleveland, that he fears something terrible is lurking beneath the surface of his family life. He bites into an apple, and hallucinates writhing worms inside the fruit. Later, Bill’s sister, Jenny, gets ready for her debutante “coming out” party. She finds David Blanchard, an ex-boyfriend, hiding in her closet and shrieks. Bill comes to his sister’s rescue, and throws David out of the house. Bill reminds Jenny he cannot attend her party because he has a basketball game, but she forgives him and asks him to zip up the back of her dress. As Bill complies, he notices a mass pulsing underneath Jenny’s skin. Later, in his campaign for school president, Bill engages in a debate against Martin Petrie, but becomes distracted when a beautiful girl named Clarisa Carlyn allows Bill a view up her skirt. Later, Bill tells Dr. Cleveland he suspects he was adopted. Cleveland accuses him of being paranoid and promises he will make a great contribution to society someday. Bill continues to suffer from hallucinations at home, and becomes increasingly fearful of his family. One day, he goes to the beach with his girl friend, Shauna, who begs him to speak to Ted Ferguson, a popular boy who did not invite Bill to his upcoming party. Shauna desperately wants to attend the party, but when Bill speaks with Ferguson’s clique, he is ridiculed. David Blanchard, Jenny’s ex-boyfriend, seeks out Bill and drags him to the pier, where he confesses to bugging one of Jenny’s earrings ...

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In Beverly Hills, California, teenager Bill Whitney senses that he is different from his wealthy parents, Jim and Nan, and his younger sister, Jenny. Bill tells his therapist, Dr. Cleveland, that he fears something terrible is lurking beneath the surface of his family life. He bites into an apple, and hallucinates writhing worms inside the fruit. Later, Bill’s sister, Jenny, gets ready for her debutante “coming out” party. She finds David Blanchard, an ex-boyfriend, hiding in her closet and shrieks. Bill comes to his sister’s rescue, and throws David out of the house. Bill reminds Jenny he cannot attend her party because he has a basketball game, but she forgives him and asks him to zip up the back of her dress. As Bill complies, he notices a mass pulsing underneath Jenny’s skin. Later, in his campaign for school president, Bill engages in a debate against Martin Petrie, but becomes distracted when a beautiful girl named Clarisa Carlyn allows Bill a view up her skirt. Later, Bill tells Dr. Cleveland he suspects he was adopted. Cleveland accuses him of being paranoid and promises he will make a great contribution to society someday. Bill continues to suffer from hallucinations at home, and becomes increasingly fearful of his family. One day, he goes to the beach with his girl friend, Shauna, who begs him to speak to Ted Ferguson, a popular boy who did not invite Bill to his upcoming party. Shauna desperately wants to attend the party, but when Bill speaks with Ferguson’s clique, he is ridiculed. David Blanchard, Jenny’s ex-boyfriend, seeks out Bill and drags him to the pier, where he confesses to bugging one of Jenny’s earrings and recording a conversation between her and her parents. David plays the tape, in which the Whitneys prepare Jenny for her coming out party. They tell her she will choose a boy her own age and lose her virginity to him, before engaging in incestuous sex with her own parents. Disgusted, Bill delivers the tape to Dr. Cleveland, who promises to listen to it before their next session. However, when Bill returns to Cleveland’s office, the therapist reiterates that Bill is paranoid and plays the cassette, which contains an entirely different conversation than the one Bill heard. Convinced there is a conspiracy going on, Bill calls David Blanchard and arranges to meet him. At the appointed meeting spot, he discovers David has been killed in a fatal car accident. Police stop Bill from retrieving another cassette tape from David’s overturned car. At home, Bill is appalled when his parents and Jenny are unfazed by news of David’s death. He receives a telegram inviting him to Ted Ferguson’s party, and the Whitneys rejoice that Bill has been invited to such a nice home. Bill attends the party without his girl friend, Shauna, and dances with Clarisa Carlyn, the beautiful girl who distracted him during the debate. Bill’s best friend, Milo, interrupts, wanting to discuss David Blanchard’s death, but Bill is too mesmerized by Clarisa to pay attention. He follows her into a tent, where Ted Ferguson reports that he had sex with Jenny at her coming out party, and claims everyone else did, too. He also takes credit for causing the fatal car accident that killed David Blanchard. Furious, Bill attacks him, but Ferguson’s friends throw him into the pool. Clarisa comes to Bill’s aid and brings him back to her house, where they have sex. Bill has another hallucination, in which Clarisa’s body contorts, but he snaps out of his trance. The next day, Bill finds Jenny receiving a massage from her scantily clad father, as Mrs. Whitney looks on. Bill expresses disdain for their behavior and claims the Whitneys are not his real family. Later, Martin Petrie approaches Bill with information about a “society,” and arranges to meet him that night. However, when Bill goes to the designated meeting spot in a canyon, he finds Martin dead inside a car. Bill runs to Clarisa’s house and calls police, but when he leads them to the site where he found Martin’s body, it is no longer there. At school, Bill realizes he was duped when Martin Petrie shows up for another presidential debate. Bill’s friend Milo accompanies him home, and waits as Bill goes inside to discover his parents and sister, family friend Judge Carter, and Dr. Cleveland awaiting him. Two paramedics grab Bill, inject him with drugs, and take him away in an ambulance. Milo follows the ambulance to the hospital, where Bill escapes his hospital bed, seemingly recovered. Milo cannot believe when Bill asserts that his parents just want him to be happy. Bill returns home, where he is snared and pinned to the ground as dozens of well-dressed guests applaud. Judge Carter descends the staircase and congratulates Jim and Nan Whitney on making such a great contribution to “society.” Dr. Cleveland confirms Bill’s suspicion that he was not born into this society, but was groomed to provide sustenance for those who were. When David Blanchard’s body is thrown onto the floor beside him, Bill is surprised to discover that David is still alive. Judge Carter announces they will feast on David first in the “shunting” ceremony, and Bill watches in horror as partygoers strip their clothes, dig their nails into David’s body, and suck on his skin until their bodies contort and meld into his. The feeding frenzy devolves into an orgy. Although Clarisa is in attendance, she does not partake in the shunting, and frees Bill from his snare. Bill challenges Ted Ferguson to a fight, punches his gut, and causes his rotten body to implode. Meanwhile, disguised in a police uniform, Milo infiltrates the party and rescues Clarisa from the cannibals. On his way out, Mr. Whitney taunts Bill, telling him he will never get away with this, but Bill tells him, “Don’t count it,” and punches him in the face. Outside, Bill joins Milo and Clarisa as they escape in Bill’s jeep.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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