Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Capital Celluloid 2018 - Day 35: Sun Feb 4

Society (Yuzna, 1989): Waterloo Vaults, 3pm

Waterloo Vaults introduction:
This very special Enthusiasms double-bill – moving from its regular disreputable home at the cinematic sex dungeon Curzon Soho to the dank and sordid underbelly of the Waterloo tunnels – packs a horrific one-two punch of exposure and exploitation: honey-traps, hallucinogens, CIA conspiracy-theories, slithering body-horror and Republican cannibalistic-orgies are the order of the day in the dark pulsating heart of Trump’s America. Part one of the double-bill is
the short film I AM THE DEVIL (Mike Harris, 2017). Based on the true story of Operation Midnight Climax, a secret CIA program in which unsuspecting johns were lured by prostitutes and then subjected to non-consensual LSD testing, as well as psychological and physical torture in an effort to perfect mind control against the Soviets. Set in 1959, a few years into the program, I AM THE DEVIL tells the story of one such hapless test subject looking for a good time on a business trip in San Francisco, and the ensuing nightmare.

Time Out review of Society:
A bizarre fable that starts like a TV soap but soon darkens into a disturbing thriller about an idyllic Beverly Hills community where something is subtly skewed. Handsome teenager Bill (Billy Warlock) feels uncomfortable with his affluent peers. But the usual teen insecurities take on a more sinister aspect when his sister's ex-boyfriend Blanchard plays him a clandestine recording of her 'coming out' party which suggests perverse, incestuous sexual initiation; but when Bill's shrink later plays the tape back to him, he hears only innocuous conversation. How does this connect with rich kid Ted's exclusive teen clique, or Blanchard's death in a road accident? Is there a dark conspiracy, or is Bill losing his marbles? First-time director Brian Yuzna is happier with the sly humour and clever plot shifts than with the appropriately iconic but sometimes dramatically unconvincing cast. He nevertheless generates a compelling sense of paranoid unease, and shifts into F/X overdrive for an unforgettable horror finale. Suffice it to say that the 'surrealistic make-up designs' by Screaming Mad George (who did the cockroach sequence in Nightmare on Elm Street 4) will stretch even the most inelastic mind.

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