The Film (5/5)
Roger Watkins is most well known to film viewers as the director of the notorious grindhouse epic Last House on Dead End Street. However, to fans of classic erotic cinema he meant more than just that one slice of psychotic horror cinema. He was a director of much acclaim in the early New York porn world, and is considered the last great director to come out of that scene.
Corruption, his 1983 film shows Watkins at the height of his formidable talents as as a director. The film creates something distinctly erotic, but blended with such artistry that it feels like it bridges the gap between the worlds of hardcore porn and arthouse cinema. The film is not easy to summarize and feels more like an atmospheric piece than a linear plot driven affair, this would put it in similar territory to the films of David Lynch, Nicholas Winding-Refn, or Jean Rollin.
The film opens with a business man named Mr. Williams played by the late Jamie Gillis speaking to a board room about business ethics. After this scene plays out we cut to one of Mr. Williams associates Alan played by George Payne entering a mysterious building to begin a journey to gain, what I believe to be some sort of power. To this end he must have sexual relations with 3 different women in 3 different rooms. Each room has a different color Blue, Red, and Black in that order. Each woman is dressed in lingerie in that specific color. The woman in each room perform very specific acts, but each has a certain coldness to them, as if trying to remove emotion from Alan during his journey through the rooms.
The first woman in blue, will only masturbate for him, and allow Alan to smell her vagina. The second woman, who wears red, allows him to provide oral sex to her, before she returns the favor. It should be noted that during the oral portion Alan is not allowed an orgasm, before being sent to the third room with the woman in black. The woman in black is the coldest of the 3 woman on his journey, and before he is allowed to have full sex with her he must swear off ever loving again. After doing that he is allowed to penetrate her fully. However, before he is to climax, she tells him to pull out. Alan then is told to leave the building, and observes a briefcase as he departs.
The film than leaves Alan, and goes back to Mr. Williams who is in the bedroom with his lover, Doreen. After a brief conversation about their relationship they too have sex. In a direct parallel with the woman in black sequence, he is not allowed to cum inside his lover. He then wanders out and watches his lovers sisters Felicia masturbate before finding out about Alan, and leaving. Mr. Williams than goes to a sleazy bar where he watches a stripper and meets up with his brother. His brother takes him downstairs on a journey of pure observation. In a hallway he must observe through 3 reverse peepholes 3 different sexual acts, in the first he sees a bathroom lesbian encounter, in the second a bizarre dominatrix situation, and in the third necrophilia. These final 2 greatly upset Mr Williams. The film then takes a bizarre turn where Felicia, his lovers sister is kidnapped, and that situation must now be dealt with, and drives the film to a strange conclusion.
There is a lot going on in Corruption, but I feel like to put it together either requires multiple viewings, or the simple acceptance that this is a film that is about visuals and atmospherics, and it is best to allow the viewer to allow the piece to just flow over them. I'll be forthright in admitting I don't watch a lot of porn, but this is one of the finest, if not the finest looking porn films I have ever seen. The visuals are minimalist in style, but work to create something truly memorable. The score to the film creates an unsettling ambiance which feels sort of the antithesis of something one would expect from an erotic film, but truly helps amplify the vibe that Watkins is trying to create. The performances from the cast are cold, calculated, and excellent, and special attention needs to be called it to the precise and stellar camera work by Larry Revene.
Vinegar Syndrome in keeping with their Blu-ray quality standard have presented Roger Watkins Corruptions in a fantastic 1:78:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. Detail here is excellent, colors are lush, and well reproduced, and blacks are inky and deep. There is a nice grain structure present as well. There are incremental bits of damage from the source, but they are very very minor and not really a distraction at all.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD mono mix in English. The track is quite nice, with dialogue and score coming through crisp and clear.
OK, so you might look at the back of the case and go....Scott there is an interview with the cameraman, the film's trailer, and a gallery of artwork. Why are you giving this a 5/5 for extras? Are you insane?
Well yes, but that's beside that point.
One of the first things I heard about Vinegar Syndrome, before they even released their initial H.G. Lewis collection was that they had the materials and the rights to Roger Watkin’s debut feature the Last House on Dead End Street, and that they were planning on releasing it on Blu-ray. I missed out on the Barrel DVD as I was in college at the time, and simply refuse to pay OOP rates for films I know will eventually make it back into circulation, so I waited, AND waited.
Well for those of you who want to see a HD transfer of Last House on Dead End Street, there is now one. Vinegar Syndrome have included as an Easter Egg on this Blu-ray edition of Watkin's Corruption the complete Last House on Dead End Street. I will say that this is not the version they will eventually release as an SE. According to them, they are waiting on materials which are better than what is here for that release. In the mean time they have scanned in what they have, done some minor color correction, and provided us an uncut Last House... as the results. The film has nice detail, it's got damage from the source, but that should be expected, but should please any fan who has been looking for an HD transfer of this grimy, sleazy, violent slice of 70's grindhouse fare. It is certainly a major upgrade from any DVD or VHS release you may have in your possession.
Oh, and one last thing to access this Easter Egg go to the very bottom option of the main menu, press down six times. When the cross icon appears, hit enter on your remote.
Corruption is an excellent slice of erotic cinema from director Roger Watkins combining the worlds of hardcore pornography and arthouse cinema in a very memorable package. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic. The extras included an interview with the cameraman who helped give this film it's very distinct look, and more. Horror fans should take note, as this contains Watkins Last House on Dead End Street as an Easter Egg, and that is worth the price of admission alone. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.