Theater Thoughts

Blu-Ray Thoughts: Corruption

October 23, 2013


Reviewer: John Carpenter

Released by: Grindhouse Releasing
Blu-Ray Release date: 10/8/2013
Region Free
91 Mins/Not Rated
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16×9: Yes

John Rowan (Peter Cushing) has it made.  He is a successful doctor who is engaged to a beautiful, younger model named Lynn (Sue Lloyd).  She still likes to socialize and despite John being worn out from work, he agrees to attend a party with her.  While there, it is clear that John is a bit jealous.  The attention photographer Mike (Anthony Booth) gives Lynn during an impromptu photo session is too much for John and leads to a scuffle.  The two end up bumping against a hot studio lamp that falls on Lynn’s face, disfiguring the lovely lady.  This is a lot for John to deal with and he vows to make things right.  It leads to an experimental surgery that seems to yield positive results.  When Lynn has a relapse, John is forced to tweak his process.  This causes a moral dilemma that spirals out of control in a hurry and leads John down the path of “Corruption.”

“Corruption” is really two types of film.  The first half is more of a thriller.  It has an interesting story and with the International Version’s inclusion of juicier footage, has just enough going to retain viewer interest.  Once Wendy Vernals (who plays Terry) pops up, the tone changes.  The classy, professional backdrop of the Rowan family life has shifted to more of a vacation setting and as the story evolves, it takes more of an exploitation turn.  John Rowan is quickly headed down a troublesome path and Lynn’s persona is much greedier than it ever was before.  The plot once again takes a strange turn of events that leads toward a final twenty minutes that is so fun and crazy, you just have to roll with the punches.  It should be noted that this final third of the film introduces one of the most humorous and oddly disturbing characters of all in Groper (David Lodge).  His “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” reject look is perfect and helps draw attention to Groper’s animalistic nature.  All in all it leads to a highly satisfying conclusion to a movie that has thankfully been dusted off for a new generation of movie buffs.

There has never been a better pairing than Peter Cushing and “Corruption.”  This isn’t to say that Robert Hartford-Davis’ 1968 feature is Cushing’s best film – there are many better titles out there.  “Corruption” does have a love affair with Peter Cushing and almost needs his presence to succeed.  He brings a level of class to John that works perfectly for his character.  As an older man with a young, hot fiancé the role of John could have easily been sleazy or campy.  Cushing brings just the right touch of jealousy and care that the character needs.  Knowing Cushing’s real-life love for his wife had to have been a source of inspiration for his onscreen devotion to Sue Lloyd’s Lynn.  It shows just how far a man will go for the woman he loves.  Just look at the conflict John faces when he is forced to choose between his morals and providing happiness for Lynn.  This allows Cushing to provide a slow burn into madness.  He goes from a man on the cutting edge of medical advancement to one who is wrapped in a world of desperation and insanity.  Cushing with “Corruption” is a prime example of lightning in a bottle.  The movie shouldn’t work as well as it does, but Cushing adds just enough street cred to make it a worthwhile investment of time.

There are two viewing options for “Corruption” on this Blu-ray.  The U.K. Cut (91:23) and the International Version (90:39) will have many viewers opting for the longer version in the hopes that the longer runtime adds some juicy material, but it is the International Version that has the extra nudity and gore.  Both look great with the AVC encoded, 1080p 1.85:1 widescreen presentation.  From a technical standpoint, both cuts are viable options.  They have some specs here and there, but never sport any major print damage.  The lively party sports some nice colors and trippy moments.  It is with some of the close-ups in this opening scene that we see some of the nice grain that is retained and a solid amount of detail.  Some of the intricacies and patterns from the numerous miniskirts look wonderful.  Moving later into the feature, these highlights are retained in the form of clothing textures and background decorations.  Black levels are solid and the gory moments really stand out.  Along with the delightful look of “Corruption” is a great DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track.  The track is balanced well, providing plenty of sound during the party but never drowning out the dialogue level.  These dialogue levels do sport some inconsistencies from time to time.  Some of the sound has some post production work. The quality is never poor, there is just an obvious difference in the audible level at times.  Fortunately, there aren’t any dropouts.  Pops, hisses and static are non-existent, leaving “Corruption” sounding great despite its age.  Another audio option is a Music & Effects Track.  This is an underrated feature that doesn’t get added to enough Blu-ray and DVD releases.  When the music is on, this track is great.  Bill McGuffie’s style is amped up just a bit and given venter stage, allowing his wild score to shine.  During some of the slower moments, footsteps and lighter background noises can be heard.  While this extra may be ignored by many, it is a fine addition to this Blu-ray that would provide some great background sound during a party or while working throughout the house.  It should be noted that the track goes silent during some of the International Cut of “Corruption.”

As with Grindhouse Releasing’s previous Blu-ray of “An American Hippie in Israel” (Review HERE), this disc is packed with extra features.  Most are found in the ‘Special Features’ section, but an Audio Commentary Track is tucked away in the ‘Audio Options.’  Jonathan Rigby, author of ‘English Gothic’ teams up with Peter Cushing biographer David Miller for an interesting track.  They begin discussing Cushing’s dislike for “Corruption” and “The Blood Beast Terror” (Review HERE) before sticking with the onscreen action a bit more.  The gentlemen bring a dry sense of humor to the track while providing an encyclopedia of knowledge about “Corruption.”  They view the picture as both fans and scholars, noting that there is never a ‘reveal’ for Lynn’s face after John works on her for the first time and giving quite a bit of information on actors like Anthony Booth.  This is an impressive track that complements the film very well.

Some “Alternate Scenes” (4:22) can be played individually or with the ‘Play All’ option.  The bulk of this runtime comes from the extended and gorier scene between Pete Cushing’s John Rowan and the prostitute he visits.  The other three lightning quick scenes are inserts from other parts of the movie.  A quartet of interviews begins with a “Billy Murray Interview” (13:38) who plays Rikin “Corruption.”  Billy sits down for a fun recollection and it is funny to hear that he hasn’t seen the movie because he is scared of the horror genre. Who would have thought this secondary character would come up with the idea for the film’s conclusion?  A “Jan Waters Interview” (9:08) will mean more to those who watch the international version since her role as a prostitute is pretty wild.  It turns out there were quite a few revisions to her demise.  Waters also takes the time to reminiscence about Peter Cushing and how helpful he was.  Next is the “Wendy Varnals Interview” (16:09) that was conducted in April 2013 and lets the world know what she has been up to since her final role in “Corruption.”  She talks about her movie career, connection to “The Beatles” and her post-acting career choices.  The last interview comes in the form of a “Peter Cushing Audio Interview” (7:14).  It allows the esteemed actor to discuss what he believes makes a horror film.  Despite Cushing’s publicized dislike for “Corruption” he remains very professional while discussing his life and opinions.  It is a great audio clip that keeps the subject in perfect “Grindhouse Releasing” territory.

The disc also has an “International Theatrical Trailer” (2:06), a “U.S. Theatrical Trailer” (1:49), five “TV Spots” (2:50) which is sure to let women know that they are not allowed to see the film alone and some “Radio Spots” (1:30).  The “Still Galleries” are broken up into Color, Black & White and Promotional Materials.  The stills are not in a slideshow presentation, rather allowing the viewer to move to the next picture at their own leisure.  A “Robert Hartford-Davis Filmography” and Grindhouse Releasing Trailers are the last Blu-ray extras.  The trailers include “An American Hippie in Israel” (3:02), “The Big Gundown” (2:14), The Swimmer” (2:43), “Massacre Mafia Style” (2:19), “Gone with The Pope” (2:00), “Cannibal Holocaust” (1:24), “Death Game” (2:37),  “Family Enforcer” (1:47), “Ice House” (1:39), “Poor White Trash 2” (2:08), “Cat in The Brain (1:57), “The Beyond” (3:27), “Cannibal Ferox” (2:46), “The Tough Ones” (3:30), “Pieces” (0:32) and “I Drink Your Blood” (2:48).  An “Original Director’s Shooting Script” is DVD-ROM material that has a SCRIPT.HTML file accessible from the computer.  Grindhouse Releasing also provides a Reversible Cover and fold out mini-poster with uncensored art.  The other side of this art sports some interesting and informative Liner Notes from UK horror journalist Allan Bryce.

Despite what you may have heard about “Corruption” it is very satisfying.  Grindhouse Releasing provides a great surprise for unsuspecting exploitation fans with this release.  Peter Cushing, who has been known to write off this movie, is wonderful as a surgeon transformed into a killer.  It is hard not to love how the madness consumes him. Is he really losing it?  Is he just scared that he will be caught?  Is this really for the love of his wife?  There are layers to the feature that could only be added by an actor with the class and professionalism of Peter Cushing.  Grindhouse Releasing has a home run as they deliver “Peter Cushing’s 100th Birthday Special Edition.”  The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack has plenty of extra features and a few bonuses in the packaging that is sure to delight fans.  “Corruption” comes as a high recommendation for fans who like classy exploitation.  It is a hidden gem in 2013 and should be snapped up immediately by heading over to Diabolik DVD (LINK).

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