Sir John Rowan (Peter Cushing) is a leading surgeon who is engaged to a beautiful model named Lynn Nolan (Sue Lloyd). After a day of surgery John and Lynn go to a party at the home of her photographer, Mike Orme (Anthony Booth). John is ready to leave early but Lynn is having a good time and begins posing for Mike. John gets a little jealous and ends up in a fight with Mike. During the fight a hot light falls over and hits Lynn in the face. The burn disfigures her face.
Lynn’s entire persona is based on her looks. Without them she feels she is nothing. Feeling guilty John begins studying tissue grafting in the hopes of being able to restore Lynn’s face and give her back her beauty. He learns that regeneration of tissue is being experimented on with lasers and research using the pituitary gland. John extracts the pituitary gland from a cadaver at the hospital. His associate at the hospital, Dr. Steve Harris (Noel Trevarthen) is concerned about John’s behavior.
John performs the graft and restores Lynn’s beauty; however, the effects are short lived. John decides that the reason the graft didn’t work is because he used dead tissue. To get the fresh live tissue he needs he kills a prostitute and cuts off her head. Lynn is once again restored. Again, Lynn’s graft begins to deteriorate. To satisfy Lynn, John begins killing young women to harvest their glands. The effects of the grafts, and Lynn’s fragile ego, send her into a downward spiral into madness. She demands more from John which in turn sends John over the edge as well.
“Corruption” was released in 1968 and was directed by Robert Hartford-Davis. It is a British horror movie and is a sort of British version of “Eyes Without a Face” 1960. “Corruption” is more exploitative in its presentation.
The movie starts out real dorky. The music is kind of jazzy and a little strident. The last scene is fast and furious, but when the ending credits roll it has a strange ambiguous feeling. The movie did badly at the box office, and I’m not surprised. Of course, since then it has garnered the usual cult following, especially since the camp value is really high.
Cushing’s performance in the film is outstandingly freakish. As with all of his work, Cushing gave it his all. His journey down the rabbit hole is in full glory although I’m not sure if it was due to his love for Lynn or his guilt for what happened to her. Eventually his vow to help people is totally destroyed which adds another layer to his reasons to step away from reality. Sue Lloyd, who plays Lynn Nolan, is also multifaceted in her psychosis. Her entire being is wrapped up in her appearance so when she loses it, she loses herself. The fact that she goes through this torture repeatedly doesn’t help. They are mutual insanity enablers.
There is a fair amount of violence and gore. Less than you would see now but in the late sixties it was considered quite violent. The strange music score and the unusual camera angles add a lot to the overall horror of the film. It is a more “in your face” type of horror than that of its predecessor “Eyes Without a Face”. To me, the latter was far more disturbing a film. “Corruption” I found to be just more exploitative.