The Film (4/5)
It wasn't until a recent reading of a wonderful genre review book Offbeat: British Cinema's Curiosities, Obscurities, and Forgotten Gems that I came to discover the Peter Cushing vehicle Corruption. It was described as a film so violent, both sexually and physically that the notable genre star had all but disowned it from his own filmography. Cushing, of course, came to prominence amongst the genre faithful for his work in Hammer's output throughout the 50's and 60's, which did have their own share of bloodletting in them, especially for the era. Needless to say my curiosity was peaked, and I knew I must see the film. Unfortunately, it did not appear to have a home video release at the time. I must, therefore, call it a terribly interesting coincidence when later in the same month Grindhouse Releasing announced their home video comeback, and with it Corruption.
Corruption stars Peter Cushing as Dr. John Rowan, a surgeon of some renown who is about to marry a much younger fashion model, Lynn, played by Sue Lloyd. Lynn, convinces John to make a quick impromptu appearance at a party her friends her throwing, where she begins to engage in what could be considered a semi-erotic photo session. John objects to the session, and in trying to wrestle the camera from the photographer ends up knocking the photo lights down on Lynn, causing her to burn and become horribly disfigured.
Fortunately, John has been working to perfect a new laser-based technology that will allow him to restore her beauty to her. The downside is, that it requires a transplant, and the donor needs to die in the process. Also, it is only temporary requiring more surgery, and more victims, turning this once respected surgeon into a brutal serial murderer.
Watching Cushing in Corruption he does feel a touch out of place from the word go. There is something distinctly odd, yet fascinating about seeing one of the great gentlemen of horror cinema attached to the arm of a young fashion model at a party in swinging 60's London, it's even more jarring to see him violently decapitating a topless prostitute a little later in the film. Yet, once the strangeness of seeing Cushing in this role, and in this surrounding wears off, you realize that like nearly every other role the man occupied, he threw himself into Dr. John Rowan's skin, and made it his own. For while it may be easy for some to write off Corruption as a violent slasher, Cushing's performance amongst other things helps elevate it beyond that level.
This is also helped by a very interesting script by British exploitation legends Derek and Donald Ford, and excellent direction by Robert Hartford-Davies who could have made a simple body count film and called it a day, but decided to channel elements of the revenge film into the third act helping to create an unexpected tonal shift that will have even the most jaded of viewers caught by surprise.
Corruption came out Post-Eyes Without a Face, and it's influence is certain obvious on the finished film. That being said, it is an absolute cinematic blast that has been buried far too deep for far too long.
Releases like Corruption, and last months American Hippie in Israel just on the A/V side of things make me very happy that Grindhouse Releasing is back in the game. The 1080p AVC encoded 1:85:1 transfer presented here does not look like a 50 year old film that has never seen the light of American home video before. It is simply a stunning Blu-ray with excellent fine detail, color reproduction, and solid black levels. There is a natural healthy organic grain structure present as well.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master audio mono mix. The track for the most part is good with dialogue coming through clearly although a few parts sound a little less than stellar, but over all a fantastic track.
Grindhouse has fully stacked their Blu-ray release of Corruption. There are 2 cuts of the film present for starters, the bloodier, and more explicit International Cut, and the less violent British cut of the film. We also get a commentary by Film Historian Jonathan Rigby and Peter Cushing biographer David Miller. There are also about 45 minutes worth of interviews including an audio-only interview with Peter Cushing, and other interviews with Jan Waters, Billy Murray, and Wendy Varnals. The film can be played with an isolated music and effects track. The disc is rounded off by alternate scenes, trailers, TV spots, and Radio Spots, a text based Robert Hartford-Davies biography, still galleries, and DVD-Rom/PDF extras including the original shooting script.
Corruption is a truly hidden gem of British horror cinema. The A/V restoration courtesy of Grindhouse Releasing looks absolutely fantastic, and the disc is absolutely loaded with extras. HIGHLY RECOMMDENDED.