Thursday, October 15, 2015


I watched CORRUPTION (1968) for the first time last night (thanks to a recent showing on TCM which I recorded). I was not familiar with this British horror film even though it stars genre icon Peter Cushing. The film didn't come from either Hammer or Amicus, the two major horror film producing British studios of the time.

Produced by Peter Newbrook and directed by Robert Hartford-Davis (from a screenplay by Derek Ford and Donald Ford), CORRUPTION borrows heavily from Georges Franju's horror masterpiece EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960). However, it's nowhere near as good as that classic shocker.

Peter Cushing stars a plastic surgeon Sir John Rowan. He's engaged to Lynn (the incredibly lovely Sue Lloyd), a young fashion model in the swinging London of the late '60s. And here's the first disconnect in the film. Cushing is a fine actor but at this stage in his career, he's simply not credible as the fiance of this much younger woman.

Lynn's face is horribly disfigured in an accident at a party. Sir John becomes obsessed with restoring her beauty. He steals the pituitary gland from the body of a young woman in the hospital morgue, creates a serum from the gland and injects the concoction into Lynn's scars. The treatment works but it's only temporary. Sir John realizes that the glands must come from a freshly dead woman and he sets out to acquire the needed organs by murdering (and beheading) a prostitute. Again, the results don't last and Sir John and Lynn retire to their cottage on the coast of Dover where they plot to murder a young runaway (Wendy Varnals). When that scheme fails, Sir John is forced to kill an unknown woman on a train and bring her head home for storage in the refrigerator. Things take a turn for the worse when the runaway girl's criminal gang shows up at the cottage and start to terrorize Sir John and Lynn. The climax involves an out of control laser beam in a makeshift operating room in which all of the players meet their violent, brutal ends.

Cushing, as always, is very good as the obsessed surgeon driven to commit heinous crimes for the woman he loves. Lloyd is also good as a vain, prideful woman who will stop at nothing to acquire her lost beauty. But that's about all that CORRUPTION has going for it. The cinematography by Peter Newbrook is flat and unimaginative while the music score, by Bill McGuffie, is a discordant and totally inappropriate mess of jazz and light rock that comes and goes at odd times during the film.

CORRUPTION isn't a bad little horror film but it's certainly not the genre classic that EYES WITHOUT A FACE is. It's a third tier piece of '60s British horror, behind Hammer and Amicus, but worth a look if you're a genre fan or an admirer of the great Peter Cushing.

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