Saturday, November 23, 2013


What a sleazy little slice of swingin’ 60s pop madness Robert Hartford-Davis’ Corruption (1968) is. Like Jess Franco’s later Faceless (1987), Corruption is a lurid and seedy riff on Georges Franju’s beautifully haunting and atmospheric Les Yeux Sans Visage/Eyes Without a Face (1960). As the brilliant surgeon pushed to the extremes of violent obsession in his effort to restore the horribly burned face of his beautiful young wife, Peter Cushing gives an incredible, sweaty performance that would have to rank as one of the most intense and off-beat of his career. When he is eyeing-up a potential victim sitting in front of him on the train, his face generates genuine unnerve and menace. After a chase across white seaside cliffs, the plot escalates wildly, with a home invasion by a group of New English Library-style counterculture bullies and an out of control surgery laser. The cool jazzy lounge soundtrack by Bill McGuffie, under-lit interiors and distorted camera lens techniques, along with much of its general ambience, helps give Corruption a more European feel than many British genre films of that period. Surrounding Cushing are Sue Lloyd, Wendy Varnals, New Zealand-born Noel Trevarthen, and a couple of future Hammer starlets, Kate O’Mara (Horror of Frankenstein, The Vampire Lovers) and Valerie Van Ost (The Satanic Rites of Dracula). The director’s son, Scott Hartford-Davis, works in Australia and has directed over 350 episodes of the popular night time soapie Home & Away over the last ten years.
The new Grindhouse Blu-ray/DVD set of Corruption is a treat, offering both the uncut UK/US version and an International version, which I haven’t yet watched but I believe it ups the nastiness and nudity a little. The restoration and transfer look spectacular and really do justice to Peter Newbrook’s lovely cinematography (which captures both cramped tension and beautiful countryside), and there’s a nice range of extras included that make this a worthy release to celebrate a memorable but rather obscure and under-discussed performance by a great actor in what would have been the year of his one hundredth birthday.
I need to hunt down a copy of the film tie-in paperback of Peter Saxon's novel to add to the library...