Corruption – Blu-Ray Review

Corruption presents an Eyes Without a Face-like scenario set in the “Swinging London” scene of the 1960s and staring Peter Cushing. Cushing is Sir John Rowan, an older doctor who is dating a much younger model. He gets in a fight with a sleazebag photographer, and the altercation results in a hot light burning her face. To try to deal with the consequences, he ends up going on a Frankenstein-style rampage where he ends up killing people to get pituitary glands that can help him reconstruct her damaged face.

I think Cushing was a bit too old-fashioned and stiff to make going out with this hip young model believable—Christopher Lee was 10 years younger and would have been a better choice. It’s not in the same league as Eyes Without a Face, but it’s a fun romp through a spiral into murderous behaviour. Unfortunately, it has a really lame twist at the end. One of the unique things about it that Cushing, unlike Christopher Lee who did do the occasional more contemporary film like Taste of Fear, usually was placed in period films. So it’s interesting to see him in a more modern setting. Cushing had been around the film world since the 1930s as well as doing decades of theatrical work.

Cushing gives kind of a fun, over the top performance, which is not what he’s usually known for. His typical turn is a more retrained role. It’s also surprisingly gory and violent for the time.

It was directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, who had a really bizarre career. He is probably best known today for two blaxploitation movies, Black Gunn and The Take, the latter of which featured a very young Billy Dee Williams. You’ve seen versions of this movie before, it’s not amazing by any stretch, but it’s well-made and a fun watch.

Sue Lloyd plays Lyn, the love interest. People will recognise her from her role in The Ipcress File, although she mainly did TV. Lloyd had recurring parts on British shows like The Saint, The Sweeney and Department S, plus a long-running part on the soap Crossroads. She’s not particularly memorable here, but it’s fine.

The package includes three different cuts: US and UK theatrical cuts and the more graphic “continental” version. In terms of extras, there is an audio commentary with Cushing, his biographer David Miller, and author Jonathan Rigby that works with the US and continental versions; plus lengthy archival interviews with Cushing and producer/cameraman Peter Newbrook, and shorter archival interviews with actors Billy Murray and Wendy Varnals; a featurette called The Reluctant Beatnik with co-star Phillip Manikum; an appreciation by author Stephen Laws;  alterative titles; and UK and US trailers plus a trailer commentary with Edgar Wright. TV spots, image gallery and promotional materials, and the director’s shooting script gallery are accompanied by a 80-page book featuring essays, archival interviews, excerpts from the novelisation of the film, and much more.

★★★½

Ian Schultz

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