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Release Date(s)1968 (October 8, 2013)
Studio(s)Columbia (Grindhouse Releasing)
It’s one of life’s great ironies that horror, one of the basest and least respected of all movie genres, made icons out of some of the most refined, cultured men of the twentieth century. Among these superstars of terror, Peter Cushing epitomized the perfect English gentleman. Cushing’s poise and courtly manner ideally suited him for roles in period films. Even more than his contemporaries Christopher Lee and Michael Gough, Cushing seemed like a traveler from an earlier, more elegant age. So it’s a bit jarring to see him thrust right smack in the center of Swinging 60’s London in the little-seen shocker Corruption.
Peter Cushing’s mod odyssey casts the actor as Sir John Rowan, a brilliant surgeon engaged to fashion model Lynn Nolan (Sue Lloyd). Lynn drags a reluctant Sir John to a party hosted by celebrity photographer Mike Orme (Anthony Booth). Sir John is increasingly uncomfortable in this bacchanalian setting, reaching his limit when Mike tries to get Lynn to pose nude in front of everyone. In the ensuing struggle, a flood light falls and hits Lynn, leaving her face permanently scarred. Guilt-ridden, Sir John throws himself into research, vowing to discover a way to regenerate tissue and restore Lynn’s beauty. The experimental procedure is a success but a temporary one, requiring Sir John to harvest fresh pituitary glands from unfortunate female victims.
Cushing was not a fan of Corruption, considering it one of the worst movies of his career. In fact, it isn’t a bad movie at all. By the standards of the time, it’s fairly brutal and violent but today it seems a bit more restrained. Cushing delivers a fine, sympathetic performance as the reluctant murderer. It’s the vain Lloyd who becomes the real villain, transforming into Lady Macbeth as she forces Sir John to kill for her. Director Robert Hartford-Davis does a good job capturing the look and feel of London in the late 60s. And just when the movie is becoming a bit predictable, Hartford-Davis and screenwriters Donald and Derek Ford toss in an out-of-left-field twist for the last act, leading up to a truly bizarre climax.
Released as a Blu-ray/DVD combo from Grindhouse, Corruption looks nothing short of amazing in HD. It’s a remarkably clean print with eye-popping color and stunning detail. The mono sound is almost as good, although a few lines of dialogue occasionally get lost in the mix. The disc is bursting with special features, including two versions of the film. The “international” version features a completely different version of Cushing’s first murder than the version released in the US and UK. A different actress plays the victim and the scene now features nudity and a lot more blood.
In addition, there are new video interviews with actors Billy Murray, Jan Waters and Wendy Varnals and a segment from an audio interview with Cushing conducted in 1974. Author Jonathan Rigby and Cushing biographer David Miller contribute a thoroughly engrossing audio commentary. There’s an isolated music/effects audio track, trailers, TV and radio spots, still galleries, and even Hartford-Davis’ original annotated shooting script. A filmography of the director includes a pair of trailers for his other films (Black Gunn and The Take) and there’s a selection of trailers for 16 other releases from Grindhouse. It’s an impressively comprehensive and consistently enjoyable package.
Grindhouse Releasing has been in business for quite awhile but they’ve only recently entered the Blu-ray market. I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more from them in the future. Corruption is a terrific little thriller, rescued from obscurity and given A-list treatment on disc. This is the kind of release that can get you excited about the possibilities of home video again.
- Dr. Adam Jahnke
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