For whatever reasons, I'd never seen Society before. I'd heard of it, and seen photographs from it, but never seen the actual film, so it's a double treat to put that right. As a horror film, it ticks all the right boxes and presents a great little small-town mystery. In a way, there are echoes of Dan O'Bannon's Dead and Buried here, with something rotten being hidden in the heart of a small town, where everyone is in on the 'joke' except for the hapless outsider who is trying to figure it all out and to escape with their life at the end.
Brian Yuzna does a great job of directing, presenting things as almost-normal to start with, but then becoming increasingly strange as deaths occur, and young Billy starts to discover things about his family which he wished he hadn't known ... but then the facts change, a tape with incriminating dialogue on is different when listened to again ... and Billy is left out on a limb. There is an effective paranoia at work here which is compounded and enhanced by small elements, like his friend's death and the face of the corpse crumbling in the church (is he really dead?) He finds another friend dead, but when he goes to get the authorities, there is no body when he returns ... is Billy going mad?
The action comes thick and fast at the end and our hero Billy escapes with the rather lovely Clarissa, but she of course might be part of the strange Society herself ... but in great eighties fashion, the film just ends when they escape, so we never find out what happens.
Overall it's a great slice of eighties paranoia, infused with a horror sensibility, and some original and still startling effects. Arrow have provided a smashing set of extras as well - including a discussion with Screaming Mad George about the effects, interviews with cast and crew as well as much more besides. A great package, and highly recommended.