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Case Number 26363

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Corruption (1968) (Blu-ray)

Grindhouse Releasing // 1968 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // October 4th, 2013

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Tom Becker freshens up with product from cheappituitary.com

The Charge

Corruption is not a woman's picture! Therefore: No women will be admitted alone to see this super-shock film!!

Opening Statement

"Have you prepared the gland?"

Facts of the Case

Physician John Rowan—make that "Sir" John Rowan (Peter Cushing, Horror Express)—makes the scene at a swingin' party with his bird…er, fiancee…Lynn (Sue Lloyd, The Ipcress File). Lynn is a model, it's London in the '60s, the host is a photographer…yes, this is the swingin'est of swingin' parties.

That is, until someone starts taking "suggestive" pictures of the lovely (and willing) Lynn. Sir John's efforts to defend her honor go horribly awry when a hot lamp gets dropped on her head, leaving half her face looking like a pineapple rind.

Lynn, naturally, is inconsolable, so Sir John, like so many Looney Tunes surgeons before him, determines to find a way to restore her beauty.

Which is never as good an idea as it sounds…

The Evidence

You know what's great about British horror movies? The ambulances. Unlike American ambulances, with their tinny shrieks, British ambulances make that comparatively melodic, lowing sound, and it's such a treat when we mash cut from the sound of a woman screaming to the sound of one of those meat wagons racing through the night. This bit of cinema magic happens but once in Corruption, but as things pan out, it's one of the high points of the film.

Corruption is a bad movie. Bad Movie! Like, you want to slap its hand sort of bad. Like most "My Face! My Face! Oh, No, My Face!" films, Corruption is patently ridiculous, but it comes off sillier than most of its Scarred Girl and Crazy Surgeon brethren.

Part of the problem comes from the uneasy mix of kink and restraint (tasteful restraint, not like bondage restraint). It's like the poor film wants to be sleazy and debauched, but it just can't bring itself to do so…or maybe, director Robert Hartford-Davis couldn't bring himself to involve Cushing in but so much grubbiness.

Dr. Peter determines that the secret to beautiful, un-pineappled skin rests with some operation or another involving pituitary glands and lasers. Fortunately, the doctor has a powerful laser right in his home; unfortunately, he doesn't have a supply of fresh pituitary glands. He pinches one from a convenient corpse, and it works wonders for a while—but, you know how these experimental treatments go: One minute, you're set to resume your modeling career, and the next minute, BLAMMO! Time for another pituitary gland.

And here is where Corruption should have been, you know, more corrupt. The doctor determines that the pituitaries must come from buxom young women, and this being Swingin' London, there are plenty of amoral and unwilling donors out there ripe for the picking. But the body count hews low, relatively, and much of the running time is spent with Dr. Peter fretting about the moral quandary of stealing pituitary glands (no Dr. Orlof, he), and Lynn becoming more and more frantic about the prospect of her face falling off (ah, she's the one affected by…Corruption!).

There's just lots of chatter. The doctor is horrified when the papers report that one of the murders seems to have been committed by someone with surgical knowledge, though I don't know how much surgical knowledge was displayed by removing someone's head with a steak knife. Lynn's sweet and pretty sister (Kate O'Mara, The Vampire Lovers) hangs out and assists the doctor in his operations, but when a pituitary donor is needed, will sis make the ultimate sacrifice?

There are a couple of good kills. One involves a prostitute, played by one actress in the US/UK version of the film, and by another in the International version. Why two different actresses? Because the US/UK actress gets more dialogue and keeps her robe on; the International actress goes topless and engages in an awkward fight-to-the-death with Cushing. Cushing actually does a fair amount of fighting here, sometimes "to-the-death," other times, not so much. He fights to the death a woman on a train in a wholly ludicrous but entertaining kill scene. He also fights-to-the-death a simple-minded woman at the beach; unfortunately, this scene and the chase leading up to it, seems to have been filmed speeded up, so at times it comes across as a silent movie parody.

The actor actually seems a little uncomfortable here. It could be part of the role (he's decades older than his girlfriend and everyone else in the movie, doesn't really fit in, and can't get into gland stealing); it also could be that the actor wasn't especially pleased with the film, although according to the interviews on this disc, he was never less than a gentleman.

It's not without its charms, as is almost any Messy-Faced Beauty with Deranged Doctor Protector film, but what you're likely to take away from Corruption is how silly it all is, and the wistful wish that the talented Peter Cushing had been more discerning in his choice of projects.

Grindhouse Releasing, which was co-founded by the late Sage Stallone, has put a great deal of work into the restoration of this film.

While the film might be lacking, Corruption (Blu-ray) is an awesome disc. The image is really, really good, with solid, bright colors, terrific detail, and good contrast. The decades-old print is obviously not going to yield a pristine transfer, but even without qualifiers, it's pretty impressive. Less so is the Mono audio track, which tends to be a bit uneven; I wish they'd included subtitles.

Bonus features are plentiful.

• The Blu-ray contains both the US/UK-approved cut of the film, plus the International version, which includes a bit of nudity.

• An audio commentary with horror writer Jonathan Rigby and Cushing biographer David Miller. The commentary is on both versions of the film, even though the International version is shorter. In a nice touch, Rigby and Miller recorded separate comments for scenes that were different in the two versions.

• Recent interviews with Billy Murray and Wendy Varnals, who played nasty hippies, and Jan Waters, who played the doomed prostitute in the US/UK cut. All these people have kind words for Cushing.

• An audio interview with Cushing from 1974.

• Alternate Scenes, including the International version of the prostitute murder, with nudity and more graphic violence, plus some insert shots to "soften" another murder scene later in the film.

• An isolated music and effects track.

• A DVD that includes the US/UK release, all the supplements, and a DVD Rom with the shooting script.

• A booklet with an essay about the film by Allan Bryce.

• Plus, a stills gallery, trailers, TV and radio spots, a director's filmography, plus trailers for other Grindhouse Releasing films, including Duke Mitchell's "lost" movie, Gone With the Pope.

This is an outstanding line-up of extras that should satisfy not only fans of the film, but cult film fans in general.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Corruption certainly has its supporters, and its not hard to see why.

1. Peter Cushing: Almost anything with Cushing is worth seeing, and he elevates this project like few other actors could.

2. Mod London: Though we only get a couple of scenes in which Carnaby St. fashions play any kind of role, the '60s London aesthetic is on display here. The party scene, early in the film, is a model of how people envision London of the era.

3. Sleazy Undercurrent: While Corruption is not half as violent or sexy as its reputation might suggest, there's still an awfully skeevy feel here—the age difference between Cushing and Lloyd, the way the accident takes place, Lloyd's increasing craziness, and…

4. The Gang: Nothing like a group of well-dressed loons to brighten a fading horror film.

5. The End: It just goes from crazy, to crazier, to ridiculous.

Closing Statement

Corruption might be a lower-tier Brit shocker, but Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray is the real deal: fine tech restoration, meaningful supplements, and an overall sense of respect for the film.

This is really an outstanding disc for a little-seen but somewhat enthusiastically noted cult film.

The Verdict

Split decision: Grindhouse Releasing is free to go, with the promise that we'll be seeing more discs of this caliber; the film…well, Dr. Rowan, you've stolen your last pituitary.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 88
Audio: 85
Extras: 98
Acting: 70
Story: 50
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Grindhouse Releasing
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Blu-ray
• Classic
• Cult
• Exploitation
• Foreign
• Horror
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• International Cut
• Commentary
• Interviews
• Featurettes
• Alternate Scenes
• Trailers and TV Spots
• Image Gallery
• Booklet
• Isolated Score and Effects
• DVD Copy


• IMDb

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