I’ve spent my weekend enjoying the raw thrills of low budget horrors, a homage to my misspent teens shall we say, when I would scour the second-hand shops for rare, preferably pre-cert, VHS tapes. Of course it wasn’t only used videos I was after – I’d say 90% of my Miles Davis CD collection had at least one prior owner – but the genuine buzz of finding an uncut pre-cert Video Nasty, in an era when the BBFC were not shy to get the scissors out on re-releases, could not be beaten – especially for a nerdish sort with a penchant for a bit of the old ultra-violence.

Those book-sized cassette cases resonated with me. I still see them as technological fossils from a recent past, when the home video market literally had NO regulation (hence the phrase ‘pre-cert’, as in pre-certification). Watching such horrors on a re-mastered DVD or Blue Ray just isn’t the same, no matter how nice the print is. Such clean viewing kills the sleazy, illicit vibe of worn tape, and thus the intention of the film in the first place. Video Nasties garnered their following due to their prohibited, and at times outright banned, stature in society. The thought that “I’m not meant to be watching this” made me want to watch it all the more.

EBay is a drain on the funds of any collector of media, and I suspect a few upcoming posts will be a reflection on recent winning bids. However the film I want to briefly comment on in this post is technically not a Video Nasty, and due to its release date (1989) could never have been a pre-cert. Yet unlike most horrors it has left a deeper, darker impression on me than my initial viewing of it, some 12 years ago.

Society, the directorial debut of Brian Yuzna, previously producer of such mid-80’s Americana treats as From Beyond and Re-Animator, is a relative slow-burner. We are invited to follow high-school protagonist Billy Whitney on his paranoid journey to discover the truth behind his socially upstanding peers, family and associates.

Infrequent depictions of gore pepper Billy’s celluloid descent down the rabbit-hole, culminating in a biological orgy of flesh-melting, mass humanoid forming pleasure. The erogenous catalyst for such a display is a horrified, kidnapped, sacrificial serf, whose own plump body gets oozily spread amongst the faces and torsos of the ruling elite. His final demise is called a “Shunting”, when one of the lead antagonists shoves his fist up… well, you can imagine! The most cutting satire is always painful to view.

The rich literally feed off of the poor, slurping the nutrients from some unfortunate schmuck’s body. Anyway, just by chance, this article and photo appeared in the Daily Chimp today…


Talking of those who drain the poor’s resources, there’s Pippa Middleton, third from left. What a fine bunch of rosy-cheeked, blood thirsty, aristocratic English ladies. Smiling over 50 bird carcasses that were bred purely to be shot. She’s got form this girl. Makes you proud doesn’t it, to salute the flag and bow to the royals? Naïve, jingoistic nationalism does grate on me. I can understand it from the future WI members above, but what extra potato have the royals ever put on my plate?!

Anyway, Society. It’s good. Watch it. And as I mentioned earlier, a little bit of life experience makes the film even more explicitly symbolic.


About Will Rodway

what you hear, what you read...
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