(director: Robert Hartford-Davis; screenwriter: Derek and Donald Ford; cinematographer: Peter Newbrook; editor: Don Deacon; music: Bill McGuffie; cast: Peter Cushing (Sir John Rowan), Sue Lloyd (Lynn Nolan), Anthony Booth (Mike Orme), Kate O’Mara (Val Nolan), Noel Trevarthen (Steve Harris), Wendy Varnals (Terry), Billy Murray (Rik), David Lodge (Groper), Alexandra Dane (Sandy), Phillip Manikum (Georgie); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Peter Newbrook; Columbia; 1968-UK)
“An uninspiring, revolting and potty British grand guignol.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An uninspiring, revolting and potty British grand guignol; it’s about a prominent surgeon who goes insane and turns to murder, and keeps human heads in the fridge. There are bad horror films and then there are films that fall into the unbelievably bad category such as Corruption that become teasingly enjoyable only because it’s hard to believe how sicko it gets without losing it altogether; it’s directed by Robert Hartford-Davis (“Saturday Night Out”/”The Black Torment”/”Bloodsuckers”) as if he were on a bad LSD trip. The derivative formulaic screenplay is by Derek and Donald Ford, who somewhere along the line had misplaced hopes of giving the sleaze some heft.
Hardworking top London surgeon Sir John Rowan (Peter Cushing) is nodding out at home after a busy but successful day at the hospital when his famous drop dead beautiful fashion model fiancee, Lynn Nolan (Sue Lloyd), calls and insists he go with her to a party with her mod swinger friends. He’s a fish out of water at the druggie affair, where things are actually pretty tame with the main excitement seeming to be over a bloke getting a body paint job. In any case, the conservative Sir John wants to leave such a vacuous affair (And can anyone not toting on a blunt really blame him!), but bimbo Lynn wants to stay and party with her dummy friends. While Lynn is posing for obnoxious photographer Mike Orme (Anthony Booth) in an impromptu photo shoot, John gets angry with Mike for trying to get Lynn to show more flesh and tries to take away his camera. A fight starts between the rivals, who instantly detested each other, and a flood lamp accidentally gets knocked over on Lynn’s face severely scarring her. The obsessed and guilt-ridden Sir John hits the books for possible arcane cures and soon attempts to restore her beauty by injecting into her face a pituitary extract and operating with a laser beam. He pilfers a gland from a hospital corpse, and the surgical procedure restores Lynn’s beauty. But when he takes her on a holiday, her face returns to being disfigured. Sir John then vows to use live tissues hoping they will be permanent, as Lynn’s shrill voice eggs him on to do anything to save her looks. The good doctor starts by decapitating a local prostitute and then operates again on Lynn. But this treatment also proves to be temporary. The couple flee to his Brighton seacoast cottage and this starts Sir John on a busy killing spree. Dr. Stephen Harris, his associate, catches on to what his colleague is doing, and along with Lynn’s sister Val, rush over to Brighton to warn Lynn not realizing she’s completely cracked and is in fact the one encouraging him to kill for her. Meanwhile, Sir John and Lynn are being harassed in their country home by mod dressed hoodlum friends of their lastest victim, a young slut named Terry, who they picked out for their next vic not realizing she’s casing out their place for her gang of four to pull off a robbery.
You don’t want to know how it ends from reading this review, as it has to be seen to be either believed or disbelieved; but this nightmare of a pic, soon to go completely bonkers, has sunk to such low depths that just about any climax should be an improvement of what has so far transpired and the exploitation ending provided is just about perfect for this macabre spare body parts flick that also tries to have its cake and eat it by tacking on a more serious ending that relives the famed doctor’s inner fear of “The more you succeed, the more you fear the failures.” The psychological undercurrent of fear of failure that affects the surgeon is so awkwardly and haphazardly presented, that the film’s more serious intentions might even be more absurd than all the gory killings that take up the heart of the film.
REVIEWED ON 9/26/2007 GRADE: C-