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Corruption (1967)

The great thing about Brit Horrors is the wide scope they encompass, from historical pieces like Witchfinder General to made up Gothics like The Black Torment, from comedies like American Werewolf In London to contemporary thrillers like House Of Whipcord. And then there's the completely mental stuff that defies description, like Corruption.

Apparently, it was all a dream. But that doesn't stop Corruption from being absolutely, completely and utterly, barking mad. Plus you get to see Mr Cushing doing things you never thought you'd see him do. Like full-on snogs, brutal killings, and even (in the European version) smearing his bloody hands over the naked breasts of a freshly-offed prostitute. Really.

The whole jolly tale starts with Cushing's character John (a plastic surgeon) being invited to a party by his fiancee Lynn, which he'll enjoy because there will be "lots of pretty girls there".

Once there he's introduced to photographer (and randy scouse git) Tony Booth. "Well, you've come to the right place to get struck off," he gets told - but that's not really going to happen. As usual in these 60s affairs, the party's pretty tame. A bit of body painting and that's your lot, I'm afraid. It doesn't stop our plastic surgeon pal from feeling (and looking) like a fish out of water, though - despite being propositioned by a young strumpet with a star painted on her face. "You're a doctor? How's your kiss of life?"

Of course, with a photographer in the house there has to be an impromptu photo shoot involving Lynn. "Come on... freak out, baby," she is told (remember this is from the days before Austin Powers ruined trendy photographers for everyone).

John takes offence at this, despite knowing she's a model, and a fight ensues which culminates in a bad accident involving Lynn's face and a spotlight. That's the end of her modelling days, then.

Or not, as it happens - for John has sussed out some ancient Egyptian plastic surgery techniques which involve pituitary glands and have already proved successful on gerbils (his vivisection experiments accompanied by some hideously innappropriate Terry and June style music). Using lots of medical equipment, spouting a fair amount of mumbo-jumbo and pressing into use an apparently ancient Egyptian ridiculously powerful laser, John cures Lynn in one go (a doctor friend looking the other way during the hacking-up of some dead girl in the mortuary to de-gland her).

The pair go off on a cruise to celebrate, but Lynn's face soon re-explodes and they cut short the holiday. Cue much wailing, gnashing of teeth and smashing of mirrors. John's sussed out what's gone wrong: "Last time I used dead tissue.. it must be human, living tissue."

A comment which spells bad news for prostitutes everywhere, I'm afraid...

A visit to just such a young lady is on the cards. £5! Prices have gone up since Peeping Tom, but it's still a bargain. And, egged on by Lynn's disembodied voice screaming "I cant stand it!" and watched by dead-eyed dolls, John hacks the poor woman to death, his face seen from the tart's view in bizarre warped close-up.

Once again, Lynn's back to normal - but her photographer sensitively informs her that because of her break from the limelight, she's already washed-up. John takes her on a holiday to Brighton where she starts to deteriorate once more, and this time complains when she asks him to kill again for her. "I've sworn to preserve life," he cries in his excellent red shirt, fisherman's cap and crevatte holiday ensemble, "not take it!" It's a bit late for that, mate.

"At least this way her death would be USEFUL!"

Lynn spots a young girl playing on the beach and reckons she'll make a good next victim, sending John down to get her. Terry (the girl) is a lovely lass - never stops eating and has a hilarious anecdote about getting gang-banged by her last lot of "friends". Egging poor old John on, the by now quite insane Lynn screams: "At least this way her death would be USEFUL!"

But in a fantastic twist, Terry's got her boyfriend waiting outside - they're thieves on a con job - and even more fantastically (for me, at least) it's a very young-looking DI Beech from The Bill, now, of course, better known as the face of "Injury Lawyers, for you". A service someone is going to require very soon...

Terry and her beau leg it before John can do the dirty deed, but all Lynn is interested in is regaining her looks. John then finds himself on a train where he murders the gorgeous Valerie Van Ost instead.

Back at the holiday cottage, Terry pertly bursts in on John cutting up Val's head on the kitchen table with the immortal line: "I came back - eek!"

There's then a huge mad chase across the cliffs and down onto the beach, which ends with Terry twatting John round the head with a huge rock, which does her no good at all - he still kills her. But before he can inject her glands into Lynn, the rest of Terry's gang arrive. Unfortunately, they look like the kind of "young" gang you get in the Carry On's of the period - particularly the supposedly mad one. They politely "turn over" the "gaff" looking for "bread", before Lynn (who gets more potty as the film goes on) tries to bribe Georgie (the leader of the gang) to bully John into performing the operation. Things go from mad to madder as we rush toward the ending (which involves that laser again). Words cannot do this film justice - it really has to be seen to be believed.

Director: Robert Hartford-Davis Writer(s): Derek Ford Donald Ford

Cast: Peter Cushing - Sir John Rowan, Sue Lloyd - Lynn Nolan, Noel Trevarthen - Steve Harris, Kate O'Mara - Val Nolan, David Lodge - Groper, Wendy Varnals - Terry, Billy Murray - Rik, Vanessa Howard - Kate, Jan Waters - Girl in the Flat, Phillip Manikum - Georgie, Alexandra Dane - Sandy, Valerie Van Ost - Girl in the Train, Diana Ashley - Claire, Victor Baring - Mortuary Attendant, Shirley Stelfox - Girl at the Party

 

Last updated: February 17, 2010

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