January 2, 2017

Corruption (1968)

Corruption (1968) continued.

A distraught John Rowan arrives back at the flat carrying the harvest of his night’s labours. There is no time to lose; he immediately prepares to repeat the same medical procedure as before but using fresh ingredients. The treatment is successful and Lynn has her beauty restored for a second time. Her first reaction is to hit the west end and go on a shopping spree. When she and Val return laden with shopping bags she presents John with a new camera and suggests he should take some pictures of her saying, “We must take pictures we can both be proud of, after all I am your masterpiece.” Lynn is indeed a new creation but only because her boyfriend has torn up his Hippocratic Oath and gleaned human organs from a corpse on a mortuary slab and now a murder victim. There are obvious parallels with the Frankenstein story here, but that ended with the scientist’s monster facilitating its creator’s demise.

With her beauty once again restored she suggests they go down to their cottage at Seaford in Sussex for a break. John is only too glad to get away, he has just a seen a newspaper headline which read, ‘NEW CLUES IN HEADLESS GIRL MYSTERY.POLICE BELIEVE KILLER HAD MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE.’ He tries to share his anxiety with Lynn, but she is well in to a bottle of whiskey and not receptive to his distress. As the couple drives through the attractive Sussex countryside on a warm sunny day in their open top sports car the whole mood changes. Even the music is upbeat and relaxing. Perhaps everything will be all right now and they can put behind them all that has happened. But this temporary escape from the nightmare is short-lived as John soon discovers that the tissue on Lynn’s face is again degenerating. Once again as John struggles with his conscience she pleads with him to do something.

Lynn is next seen lying on a sun lounger in the idyllic garden of their cottage, overlooking the cliffs and sea. John dressed in his summer best, blue slacks, a short sleeved red shirt and fisherman’s hat, appears with long cool drinks for them both. Panning the view below with binoculars Lynn spots a young woman in a bikini on her own playing in the rock pools below. Noting a rucksack beside the girl and no companions Lynn persuades a very reluctant John to go down and invite the girl up to meet them. His hesitancy is well founded; he knows that Lynn is interested in the girl for one thing only. The girl (Wendy Varnals) whose name is Terry is soon in the cottage drinking coffee in the kitchen with Lynn who persuades her to stay in the cottage with them. Later the increasingly monstrous Lynn explains to John that the girl is ideal as a potential unwilling donor, as she has no family and no one knows she is with them. He is greatly distressed at her suggestion that he should kill again, but the devious lady eventually persuades him. John creeps in to Terry’s bedroom late that night intent on another gland harvest, but both are taken aback when they find the bed empty. Terry though is only in the kitchen getting a glass of milk and is rather taken aback when she finds the pair acting strangely outside her open bedroom door. She wishes them goodnight and locks the door from the inside. In the morning the bird has flown and with her Lynn’s chances of more tissue regeneration.

Now that their captive supply of Pituitary gland has escaped John Rowan is sent out to look for another reluctant donor. As the train pulls in to Seaford station he spies a woman sitting in a carriage on her own, he climbs aboard and sits in front of her. It’s the older style carriage with no corridors to escape in to. As the train pulls away Johns behaviour becomes increasingly strange and the woman opposite played by the very attractive Valerie Van Ost becomes visibly worried. When he reaches in to his bag and pulls out his surgeon’s knife the woman begins to scream and then attempts to fight John off as he attacks her. Despite putting up a good fight she is eventually killed and her head hacked off. John hastily pushes the body under the seat and alights at Lewes station to be met by Lynn in the car. The scene in the railway carriage is effectively realised. John who is little more than a vicious killer has lost all of the refined and cultured nature he once possessed as he stalks his innocent victim. Valerie Van Ost in a flamboyant pink floral dress puts a lot in to a short scene with no dialogue making this latest murder the most harrowing of them all. The Faustian overtones that began to be intimated at in earlier scenes are now fully developed. John Rowan has sold his soul to the devil in the pursuit of vanity and selfishness, but as with all Faustian pacts there will be a price to pay.

Back in London Steve Harris, John Rowans medical colleague and friend, is sharing his concerns with Val Nolan, over a news report he heard about a headless female body found on a train in Sussex. He feels that it’s too much of a coincidence following the similar murder in London and that John and Lynn are presently in Sussex. Steve is concerned that John’s obsession with Lynn has got out of hand and he and Val resolve to visit them at their cottage. Their concern is to get Lynn away from John, unaware that she is the true monster driving him to commit these terrible crimes.

Back at the seaside cottage John is preparing to once more administer his unique treatment to Lynn’s face. The murders though have taken their toll and his increasing mental instability and nervousness render him incapable of performing the procedure. Lynn though manages to persuade him to try, but just as he is removing the pituitary gland from the recently harvested head on the kitchen table the young girl Terry returns and bursts in through the kitchen door. After greeting John Rowan with a cheery, “Hi I’m back,” she sees the bloody, butchered head on the kitchen table and after emitting a high pitched scream turns and runs out of the cottage pursued by Lynn and John. In a protracted chase scene they pursue the girl along the cliff edge and down to the seashore, eventually cornering her amongst some rocks. The girl tries to defend herself by attacking John and for a moment seems to be successful after hitting him over the head with a rock. He swiftly recovers though and in a sequence in which all of the previous murders and horrific happenings flash before his eyes he murders the young girl.

Another murder accomplished this now thoroughly dissolute and devilish pair return to the cottage. Sitting on a sofa they attempt to digest this latest happening, only to find their cottage invaded by a gang of intruders. It turns out that the group are friends or I should say accomplices of Terry and that she had been casing the joint for them. The group consist of three men Groper (David Lodge), Rik (Billy Murray), Georgie (Phillip Manikum) and a woman called Sandy (Alexandre Dane). Each member of the group are violent psychopaths in their own right and are intent on a spot of highly theatrical, aggravated burglary. I use the word theatrical as the criminal stereotypes are colourfully exaggerated, the worst being Groper, a kind of subhuman degenerate, who wears thick lensed glasses, dribbles a lot and enjoys torturing people. Groper is incapable of intelligible speech and his worst excesses are controlled by Georgie, the leader of the gang, who treats him like some kind of dangerous pet. First of all though they are intent on discovering the whereabouts of their fellow gang member Terry. The thugs subject Lynn and John to a prolonged ordeal of psychological terror and physical violence. Under the pressure of their sustained attack Lynn relents and tells them that her husband made a fool of himself with Terry and she threw her out. Meanwhile in the kitchen Sandy is making some tasty snacks for her criminal friends. Her culinary endeavours come to a swift end when she discovers the severed head in the fridge and her blood curdling screams bring her cohorts running in to the kitchen.

The good Doctor and his wife have surpassed the violence of their attackers and their assailants are visibly shaken by this grisly find. Lynn then tells the gang that Terry is lying dead on the beach, having been murdered by her husband. Rik is sent with her to find her body but Lynn pushes him over the cliff edge and returns to the cottage. Georgie, the gang leader, is so disturbed by what he has discovered that he sends Grover and Sandy to fetch the police. He stands guard over the two in their home operating theatre with a knife, but in the highly charged atmosphere Lynn in a state of terror and escalating madness switches on the laser machine. The telescopic arm used to deliver the laser beam breaks loose from its mounting and begins to lurch wildly around the room, its deadly emission cutting in to and setting fire to the furnishings. Steve and Val arrive in the middle of all this and discover a scene of mayhem. Steve rushes in to save Lynn from John who is attacking her and Val also is drawn in to the melee in an effort to rescue Lynn. The final scene is one of utter chaos as everyone in the room seems to be fighting someone and all the time the deadly laser beam is careering around the room, burning and cutting all it touches, be it soft furnishings or human flesh. Suffice it to say that no one person survives in this place of death.

Best Bit

I decided to choose the scene that takes place in the garden of the cottage by the sea. It’s a beautiful warm day, overhead is a clear blue sky. The scene is idyllic with the white East Sussex cliffs and the blue sea of the English Channel in the background. Lynn is relaxing on a sun lounger, wearing a bikini and sunglasses. John appears with long cool drinks for them both. For a moment you could easily forget the terrible things that these two people have left behind them in London. Perhaps after all it was a bad dream and now they are here all will be well and they can relax. Any reprieve that John was hoping for is short lived though as Lynn spies the young girl on her own on the beach below. The nightmare they experienced in London has not been left behind; they have brought it with them. This short period of relaxation is soon to end. They are not the victims of events, this vain and murderous couple, but the source of their own unhappiness and there is more badness to come out yet.

Dodgy Bit

Without doubt the character of Mike Orme the sixties photographer and dedicated follower of appalling fashion is easily singled out for this movies dodgy bit. It’s a ripe combination of worryingly naff dialogue, grotesque dress sense and ridiculous acting that make this character the one to single out. His hammy, ostentatious character at the party in the early part of the film is both grating and embarrassing.

Trivia

Sue Lloyd played the part of a French girl in the Hammer production of Hysteria (1965) but is perhaps best know for her role as Susan Hunter in the long running British soap series Crossroads which had its final showing in 1988.

Theatrical release date 1968

Also known as Laser Killer and Carnage in its US releases.

Noel Trevarthen, or Dr Steve Harris to his patients, played the character Mark Weston in Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1968).

The very attractive Kate O’Mara appeared in two Hammer films: The Vampire Lovers as the governess Madame Perrodon and in the spoof Horror of Frankenstein as the servant Alys. She also graced British television screens in two Dr Who series as The Rani in the episode: Mark of the Rani (1985) and again as The Rani in the episode: Time and the Rani (1987).

David Lodge alias ‘Groper’ has a long list of British film credits including: Incense for the Damned (1972). Scream and Scream Again (1969) as Detective Inspector Strickland. Captain Clegg (1962) as the Navy Bos’un. The Hellfire Club (1960) as Timothy. Notwithstanding an appearance in the soap opera Crossroads as a character named The Walrus in 1987.

Billy Murray who played Rik is best know to contemporary television audiences in Britain as Don Beech the bent detective in the long running police drama The Bill.

Vanessa Howard who plays Kate appeared as Girly in the film Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly (1969). She also played Meg Quennell in The Blood Beast Terror. (1967)

Alexandra Dane who played Sandy appeared as a whore in The Creeping Flesh (1973).

Valerie Van Ost who lost her head to Peter Cushing on the train to Lewes appeared as the vampirised Jane in The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974), she was just as unlucky in this film receiving a wooden stake in the chest for her troubles. Valerie also featured in Incense for the Damned (1972).

Anthony Booth is probably best known as Alf Garnett’s son in law Mike, from the British television series Till Death Us Do Part. For those of you unaware of it he is also Cherie Booths father, which automatically makes him Tony Blair’s father in law. Suddenly I begin to wonder why it is that this film is never shown on British TV or why it was never released on video here. Call me paranoid if you like but I sense a conspiracy theory in the air somewhere!

The director Robert Hartford-Davis also worked in the same capacity on Incense for the Damned (1972) and The Black Torment (1964).

The writers Donald and Derek Ford also worked on The Black Torment (1964), as well the Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Terror (1965).

Peter Newbrook, the cinematographer and producer on Corruption also worked on Crucible of Terror (1971) as well as The Black Torment (1964).

Bill McGuffie who wrote the music did the score for The Asphyx (1973) and for those of you wondering this was not a film chronicling the discovery of a revolutionary new medical treatment for piles. He also worked on Daleks Invasion Earth 2015 A.D. (1966).

The film was shot at Ibleworth Studios London and on location in London and East Sussex. Train spotters familiar with the South of England will notice both Seaford and Lewes stations feature in the location shooting in East Sussex.

© Mark Emery 2007



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