Digi-Schlock: CORRUPTION (Grindhouse Releasing Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack)

Some films pick up a level of cultish notoriety because they are so difficult to see. For a long time, this was the case with Corruption. It never got an official video release in several countries and was scarcely seen on television. Fans had to content themselves with bootlegs but that presented an additional problem: there were two different edits of the film, one more explicit, and even the best boots were frequently missing the most infamous footage (or presented it in terrible quality). Curious horror fans can stop fretting over the title because Grindhouse Releasing has just issued a blu-ray/DVD combo for it – and it’s hard to imagine a better release for this once-rare film.

Things get rolling with superlative transfers of the film in both versions (the two edits are encoded separately on both discs). The image quality is jaw-droppingly good, particularly when viewed on the blu-ray: the pop-art color scheme is vibrant and image detail is sharp as one of Cushing’s scalpels. Two audio tracks are included for this transfer: the first is the original mono mix, presented in DTS-HD on the blu-ray, and isolated music and effects track. Sound quality is excellent on both – and the effects/music track makes the film seem even more surreal than it actually is.

Grindhouse has assembled a hefty pile of extras to accompany this rarity. They begin in style with a commentary track featuring horror expert Jonathan Rigby and Peter Cushing biography David Miller. Their dual commentary is pretty engaging stuff, making a case for the film’s importance as they discuss how Cushing got involved with the film, the history of the different cast and crew members and the film’s release and reception.

There is plenty of interesting trivia on this track – like how co-scriptwriter Derek Ford later became a director of softcore and porn films – and Rigby and Miller’s critical insights are impressive, including the idea that Cushing opened the door to the modern era for his fellow old-school English horror actors by appearing in this gritty, distinctly non-gothic film. They can also be quite witty, ensuring the track has enough entertainment to smoothly convey its information.

The main portion of the extras begin with some alternate versions of scenes. The main inclusion is a more lurid version of the prostitute murder that is included in the unrated cut. It’s an interesting comparison to the version from the mainstream cut of the film that most fans know: the unrated version has a more visceral impact while the mainstream version is better written and more dramatically effective. The rest of the section includes a series of insert shots that were used to lighten the murder sequences for territories that requested a less explicit cut of the film.

Next up are a trio of interviews shot for this set. The first is a chat with Billy Murray, who humorously discusses his fear of watching horror films and reveals how a stunt mishap left him with an injury visible in the film. Jan Waters is next and she talks about how she had to learn a new set of lines while shooting her scene as well as convincing the filmmakers to allow her character to die with her eyes open.

The longest of the three interviews is a piece on actress Wendy Varnals. It’s also the most fascinating: she discusses how became an actress by accident, the rigors of shooting her chase scene in the film and where she had differing options with director Robert Hartford-Davis. Like the other people interviewed on this disc, she admires Peter Cushing for his professionalism and kindness. There is also an easter egg, easily found on the extras page, that contains a brief extra snippet of Varnals talking about one of her early gigs as a pop show host.

On a similar tip, Grindhouse includes a brief audio interview with Cushing from the mid-70’s. This seven minute piece is an entertaining glimpse into the actor’s personal views on art, including his thoughts on the cinema of the day (he was a fan of The Poseidon Adventure!) and his disdain for profanity and nudity in films. His genteel sensibility makes an ironic contrast to his work in the decidedly racy Corruption and makes the conviction of his performance in the film that much more impressive.

From there, the bonus features move into promotional materials. International and U.S. versions of a theatrical trailer are included: both are frantic, flashily-edited pieces that distill the film’s manic excesses effectively, with the international spot getting the edge for being a little more disturbing. The t.v. spots have to soft-pedal the lurid material a little but are no less disturbing, with all using the famous “Corruption Is Not A Women’s Picture” tagline.

That line is also used in the two audio spots included, both of them using the best lurid narration bits from the trailers. The promo materials wrap up with a comprehensive gallery split into three click-thru sections: color shots, B&W shots and promotional images. The latter is really where the action is, including reproductions of pressbooks that contain tons of shots from the scene in the explicit version of the film where Cushing squares off with a topless hooker.

Elsewhere, there are two director-centric extras. The first is a filmography for Robert Hartford Davis: in a nice touch, it includes trailers for his two U.S.-shot blaxploitation flicks, Black Gunn and The Take. There is also a PDF version of the director’s shooting script for the film, available via the DVD-Rom section of the DVD. As usual, the extras are rounded out by the jumbo-size Grindhouse Releasing trailers reel. These spots are gems of exploitation salesmanship and worthy of study for exploitation fans.

In short, Grindhouse Releasing has added another strong release to their repertoire with Corruption. Getting a pristine release of such a rare shocker is the stuff sleaze-horror dreams are made of.

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