One of the first I added to my list was 1968’s Corruption, a mad, mod thriller starring Hammer horror icon — and later Star Wars‘ Grand Moff Tarkin — Peter Cushing. As luck would have it, Grindhouse Releasing has made my search nonexistent with a Blu-ray/DVD combo that marks its North American video debut.
Another variation on France’s wildly influential Eyes Without a Face, the UK’s Corruption casts Cushing as “the famous surgeon” John Rogan, who has quite a lovely fiancée in Lynn (Sue Lloyd, Revenge of the Pink Panther), a model whose camera-loving face is scarred hideously when a scuffle at a party knocks a photography lamp onto her right cheek.
A guilt-ridden Rogan experiments furiously until he’s able to restore Lynn’s va-va-voom visage using dead tissue. The procedure is unethical, yet utterly remarkable … until it no longer is and the scarring resurfaces. The trick, of course, is that Dr. Rogan needs to acquire living human tissue to make the procedure stick. For that, he must resort to murder.
That’s where Corruption becomes so oddball, because where else can you see the distinguished Cushing wrestling with a topless prostitute? Although the good doctor becomes quite adept at beheading babes, the film is not quite the festival of sleaze the reversible cover art or “uncut” tag would have you believe; in truth, it is not too far removed from Hammer’s level of gore.
With horns blaring and sweat dripping, there’s an urgency and immediacy to the scenes in which Dr. Rogan claims his victims, but for true Corruption, look to Lynn, who increasingly pushes him to kill for the benefit of her beauty. By the second half, the gorgeous gal has gained an ugly heart. Similarly, the film loses its luster in the last half hour, when it trades Georges Franju’s Eyes for Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, but with a laser.
Much more satisfying than Grindhouse Releasing’s other current offering, 1972’s An American Hippie in Israel, the disc is loaded with the label’s usual generous helping of special features, including an audio interview with Cushing (who died nearly a decade ago) and new sit-downs with three of Corruption‘s supporting players. Most appealing is a trailer gallery of Grindhouse goodies past, present and future; among that latter group are two movies from one Duke Mitchell, Massacre Mafia Style and Gone with the Pope, both of which look absolutely amazing. —Rod Lott
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