Corruption (aka Carnage) Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Grindhouse Releasing
Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis
Written by Derek Ford and Donald Ford
1968, Region A, 91 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on October 8th, 2013
Peter Cushing as Sir John Rowan
Sue Lloyd as Lynn Nolan
Kate O'Mara as Val Nolan
Billy Murray as Rik
Wendy Varnals as Terry
Noel Trevarthen as Steve Harris
Vanessa Howard as Kate
Sir John Rowan is a highly regarded surgeon who has accomplished many great things in his career and is fortunate enough to be dating the popular fashion model, Lynn Nolan. The couple makes several public appearances together and is quite prominent in London's swinging '60s social scene. It is at a multimedia party where a photographer is pushing for Lynn to pose in some risqué pictures that John attempts to defend her honor, but ends up in a fight that leaves her physically scarred. His guilt over the accident leaves him determined to cure her injuries by any means necessary.
John's research leads him to study the pituitary gland and he is able to successfully reverse the damage and restore Lynn's beauty. The fix is temporary however, and she pushes him to try again using fresher material. John embarks on a killing spree attacking prostitutes and travelers in hopes of satisfying the vanity of his demanding lady friend. But when family members grow suspicious of his behavior, John takes Lynn to their remote beach house where they come across a nubile traveler with a dark secret that spins the film's third act into an unexpected direction.
Corruption (aka Carnage) was one of Peter Cushing's least favorite of his cinematic career. The picture pre-dates the contemporary slasher movie and yet has more in common with that subgenre than the Gothic horrors he was used to filming for Hammer Studios. While nudity and graphic violence were slowly edging into the spotlight, Cushing managed (more often than not) to avoid the more salacious acts of onscreen behavior. Then in 1968, he took the role of Sir John Rowan, the man determined to restore his lover's beauty. His first crime was filmed in two very different versions, with the American and British audiences receiving a more traditional and somewhat tame sequence that had the death of the prostitute occurring largely off-screen. European crowds were treated to a much more violent sequence shot with a different actress in the role that includes nudity and a generous amount of blood.
Director Robert Hartford-Davis (Black Gunn) keeps things moving at a decent pace and manipulates the audience's reactions to their anti-hero's behavior. Working from a script by Derek Ford and Donald Ford (Gutter Girls), the “mad doctor” premise is turned upside down with the protagonist's behavior motivated by love. Peter Cushing (The Vampire Lovers) excels in the film as he is both a villain and a tortured soul, at one point losing his traditional cool in a rare verbal outburst uncommon in his career and all the more powerful for it. Sue Lloyd (Revenge of the Pink Panther) is very threatening as Lynn Nolan, the vain bully driven mad by the constant surgeries to restore her beauty.
Biographer David Miller discusses this movie at length on the commentary track, but in his book Peter Cushing: A Life in Film there is little praise for the work. While Corruption is certainly low on the list of recommended Cushing titles, it is not the worst film in his long career. Thankfully, Grindhouse Releasing has pulled out all the stops for this rare entry and it makes me excited to see what the company offers audiences in the future. This disc is definitely worth checking out and I can easily say Grindhouse is one of the most promising companies to keep an eye on. Keep up the good work!
Video and Audio:
Corruption is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and has never looked better. The print is in remarkable shape and features strong colors and natural looking flesh tones with solid black levels. Honestly, when a low-budget film shot forty-five years ago and discarded for decades can look this fantastic, I want to slap other companies that complain about source materials from a studio movie half the age of this one.
The default DTS-HD MA 1.0 stereo track is the only audio option, but it is a good one. Dialogue is occasionally muffled under the music, but is generally clear and free from distortion. There is also an option of hearing an isolated music and effects track for fans of the soundtrack. No subtitles are included on this disc.
One really cool addition to this release is the inclusion of both the original US/UK release version and the stronger European cut of the film. Both versions match in picture quality and this edition marks the domestic debut of the extended sequences of violence and nudity. The alternate footage can also be viewed in a separate collection that showcases the subtle differences between the two releases in a standalone series of clips.
Acclaimed UK horror journalist Jonathan Rigby and Cushing biographer David Miller provide an insightful and entertaining commentary track. Since both versions of the film are available via seamless branching, the extended version includes alternate comments during the more graphic prostitute murder.
A collection of new interviews with cast members Billy Murray, Jan Waters and Wendy Varnals offer a look back on their work in the film and the experiences with Peter Cushing. There is also discussion of how their lives have changed over the past four decades.
Next up is a vintage audio interview with Peter Cushing recorded in 1974. While not specifically promoting Corruption, he shares his thoughts on the horror genre and his concerns that it is slipping in quality.
An impressive selection of marketing materials is offered in the numerous trailers, TV spots, radio ads and promotional stills galleries. There are also previews for several other titles available from Grindhouse Releasing.
A filmography for director Robert Hartford-Davis includes a few additional trailers within the listing.
Rounding out the special features is a look at the director's annotated shooting script and shot list, providing an interesting glimpse in his approach to the material.
A DVD copy of the film has been included with this release.
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