Society: A Weird Lovecraftian Movie

Society is a bizarre movie.  Some might quibble with me labeling it “Lovecraftian”, but there are definitely elements that fit.

I saw this thing while stationed in Germany in the early 90s.  A lieutenant and I would regularly swap weird movies with one another to try to ‘out-weird’ the other.  He made me watch Naked Lunch and I made him watch this.  He won.

Society starts out weird and rapidly gets weirder.  The main character Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) is a member of a rich family in Beverly Hills.  However, he never feels like he fits in either with his family or wealthy society.  Not only is there an odd feeling of alienation, but he catches glimpses of bizarre, body-contorting imagery.  Is it in his mind?  Is he going insane.

Sis is very flexible.

A friend from school gives him a tape of his family in what sounds like a twisted orgy.  When he plays it for a therapist, it’s completely different and normal.  Corpses appear only to disappear when the authorities arrive.  Bill’s obviously losing his mind, right?

Not so much.  This movie was created by Brian Yuzna.  Yes, that Brian Yuzna.  Re-Animator and From Beyond Brian Yuzna.  So you know the explanation won’t be that simple.

It turns out Bill is adopted.  His family–along with most of the upper crust in Beverly Hills–are a different species.  They’re parasitical creatures that (literally) feed off the poor to survive.  Bill was only kept as a sacrifice for his adopted sister’s ‘coming out’ party.

No joke will do justice to this.

If this sounds like thinly-veiled social commentary about class structure–ding!  You’re a winner!  It definitely is.  This is where it somewhat parts from Lovecraft.  Howard would typically have the alien creatures be from inbreeding or from crossbreeding with aliens (The Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Dunwich Horror).  Although I don’t think Howard would have minded this too much.  He didn’t concentrate so much on class as race.

Anyway, the analogy is about as subtle as a nuclear weapon.  Doesn’t matter so much, though.  This isn’t a movie that takes the analogy too seriously.  Plus, it’s incredibly weird

Worse than a Charlie Sheen party.

and surreal.  The ending ‘coming out’ party is not something you’ll be likely to forget anytime soon.  If you thought From Beyond was a mind-scrambler, just watch!

Highlights are the shower scene with sister Jenny (Patrice Jennings,) Bill’s new girlfriend Clarissa (Playboy Playmate Devin DeVasquez,) and Clarissa’s strange, hair-eating mother (Pamela Matheson).

Mmm . . . Devin DeVasquez.

I don’t want to give too much away, as half the enjoyment of this movie is being surprised at how fucking weird some of the elements are.  Did I mention it’s weird?  The final “Party” is worth the price of admission alone.

Go dig up a copy and enjoy.

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The Borderlands: A Good Lovecraft Movie

the-borderlands-01The Borderlands is a creepy little piece of cinematography out the United Kingdom from 2013.  The alternate title it was released as was Last Prayer.  I saw it a couple of years ago after it was recommended on a Lovecraft site or social media group (I don’t recall which.)

(Fair warning: this is technically a ‘found footage’ movie, but a pretty good one.  If this sub-genre annoys you, this one is still worth your time.)

No, I don’t mean the unrelated video game.  And before you correct me, yes, I know H.P. Lovecraft never wrote it.  When I say “A Good Lovecraft Movie” I mean a movie with Lovecraftian elements or themes.  The Borderlands definitely qualifies, although it’s not immediately apparent, but by the end of the movie you can’t escape those themes.the-borderlands-02

The premise starts simply enough.  Three investigators from the Vatican travel to a small town in the British countryside where a priest has recorded what he thinks is a miracle in his old church.  There’s a skeptical old priest named Deacon (with obvious unresolved issues with his faith,) a technician named Gray (strictly there for tech support and to film the proceedings,) and a somewhat obnoxious and overbearing older priest named Amidon (with past the-borderlands-03conflicts with Deacon.)

This trio investigates both the town and the church in question.  Right from the start there’s something just off about the townspeople.  Not hostile, per se, but standoffish and paranoid, even beyond the normal reticence of backward villagers.  Everyone is defensive about the church.  At one point the locals burn some livestock alive near where the trio is staying.

Meanwhile the church is displaying some odd behaviors, but nothing that proves or disproves the local priest’s claim.  The priest eventually commits suicide after a low-key creepy scene.  Investigating further, they discover that the church is incredibly ancient and the land is mentioned in several old, ominous legends.the-borderlands-04

The movie has some nice, unnerving scenes in it that reinforces the feeling that something here is not quite right.  That—and the climax which I won’t spoil here—make this a movie Lovecraft would have approved of.

I’m unsure if the writers/producers meant the title to echo The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson (a writer followed by Lovecraft.)  There are some eerie elements which overlap, so this might be a deliberate nod to that otherworldly book.

the-borderlands-05The movie isn’t perfect.  It has a slow, deliberate pacing which might put off the less-dedicated watchers.  Some plot elements are a bit contrived and the characters occasionally veer towards the clichéd.  Trust me, however, unlike other ‘found footage’ movies, there’s a definite, horrifying pay-off.

Go dig up a copy and give it a chance.