17 September 2014

Corruption (1968)
91 min.
Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis.
With Peter Cushing, Sue Lloyd, Noel Trevarthen, Kate O'Mara, David Lodge, Wendy Varnals, Billy Murray, Vanessa Howard, Jan Waters, Phillip Manikum, Alexandra Dane, Valerie Van Ost, Diana Ashley.
In his long and distinguished career, did Peter Cushing ever fail to lend any horror outing just the right degree of elegance, sophistication and gravitas?

Well, Corruption is no exception. Although it's saddled with a predictable (and at times, credibility-stretching) premise, this 1968 horror is worth your time, thanks to a tireless turn from Cushing.

Sir John Rowan (Cushing) is an expert medical surgeon, and a researcher on skin tissue and cell regeneration. So when his beautiful girlfriend Lynn (Lloyd) has an accident which leaves half her face horribly scarred, Rowan pledges to restore his disfigured belle back to her former glory.

But how exactly?

It seems the human pituitary gland holds the answer. An injection of juices culled from the fresh gland brings about the desired result: miraculously, Lynn's face returns to its youthful, unblemished form.

There's only one problem. This won't be a one time thing. In order to sustain Lynn's beauty, Rowan will need to give her periodic injections...and the fluid from the pituitary gland must be absolutely fresh...Worse still, live humans don't willingly donate their pituitary glands.

But Rowan is a resourceful man. He'll find the necessary donors...by murdering hookers, wayward runaways, and any helpless woman unfortunate enough to cross his path!

Corruption takes the 'hubristic mad doctor/Frankenstein' formula (popularized exceedingly well by writers Anthony Hinds and Jimmy Sangster in Hammer's series of early '60s horrors), and updates it here in contemporary modern day London.

None of it is transcendent. But it's polished and well acted, and never boring. Cushing excels in a brutal attack sequence on a young gal aboard a busy train. And there's a great bit with a dead noggin discovered in the freezer by an unsuspecting houseguest.

Overall, Cushing charts Rowan's ethical deterioration with the appropriate degree of concern, and matches Lloyd's psychotic descent into Lady Macbeth territory tit for tat.

On the downside, Kate O'Mara is underused as Lynn's likable sister. And even more egregious is the loopy, out-of-left-field ending, a bonkers climax that'll leave you scratching your head wondering what just happened.

Also known either as Laser Killer or as Carnage.

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