A bizarre fable that starts like a TV soap opera but soon darkens into a disturbing horror 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 (Tim Bartell) plays him a clandestine audio 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 the exclusive teen clique of rich kid Ted Ferguson (Ben Meyerson) 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 – still one of the most shocking in cinema – a kind of La Grand Bouffe for SFX nerds with added fart gags and death-by-fisting.
The make-up technician was called Screaming Mad George. Says it all, really.
Shauna Heidi Kozak