Between Les Yeux Sans Visage and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die there is Corruption. Not chronologically of course; Les Yeux came out in 1960 and the brain hit the screen two years later while Corruption premiered on the tail end of the sixties. Corruption is an English exploitation film following in the footsteps of the previously mentioned films. Starring Peter Cushing, Sue Lloyd, Kate O’Mara, and Noel Trevarthen. Writing credits to Donald and Derek Ford, and directed by Robert Hartford-Davis; all of whom stayed in the vein of exploitation and low budget films.
In the 1920 as the Theatre Grotesque jumped over to celluloid and a new form of horror began in the European art cinema subgenre. Experimental. Surreal. Unusual. Taboo. The terror was not the monster or the ghoul but the man, or the illness be that physical or mental. Franju’s classic Les Yeux is a tale about guilt and obsession. Genessier having the tools and knowledge, in theory at least, to fix his daughters disfigurement that he caused. We identify with Genessier. In his shoes, with his talents, under that pressure, we all know a part of us would at least toy with the idea of doing anything in the name of someone we love. It’s a touching and personal story, which is why it was so easy to rip it off.
The other film I mentioned, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, similar set up except make it a fiancée instead of a daughter and her face is the only thing that isn’t destroyed, this though meant to be serious comes off significantly more comical. Americans and their lack of subtly, there needs to be a big bad monster in the basement or else it’s not a real horror show, and the talking head is just hilarious. If Les Yeux is art and The Brain is schlock then what is Corruption?
It’s Frankenstein, it’s Jurassic Park, it’s the battle of Could V. Should. The morality of our choices and the lengths we’ll go to see our visons realized. Our Hammer Horror Alumn Peter Cushing, who you might know from Screamqueen’s review of Asylum. Peter is in the role of John Rowan, a brilliant surgeon light-year ahead of his peers like Steve Harris, played by Noel Trevarthen. Sue Lloyd is cast as Johns soon-to-retire-model-fiancée Lynn.
Lynn invites John to a party being held by her photographer. It’s funny, only Peter Cushing could look like a narc at a party where everyone else is in their mid-forties playing some one in their twenties. Either due to his jealousy or his sense of modesty John starts a fight with the cameraman resulting in a floodlamp falling on the Lynn’s face. His love is disfigured and she falls into a deep depression.
John in classic Cushing Frankenstein fashion falls into an obsessive binge of medical esoterica, quoting tricks of the ancients, like you do. The doctor steals a pituitary gland from the morgue. An injection here, a laser blast there, bippady-boppady-boo face reclaimed.
After a few days the scar returns, otherwise there wouldn’t be conflict. Much like to decision on what in my fridge I shoe eat the answer is obvious, fresher is better. In a montage ripped directly from the The Brain the good doctor takes to the streets to find a fresher sample. After the murder and Lynn is looking better and the two head to the country to hide out the heat. As times arrow marches ever onward they realized that no mater what they do, it will just be a temporary fix but that isn’t good enough for the future Mrs. Rowan.
Another body found headless on a train and surgeon-detective Steve is on to them. John wants to call it quits as it become obvious that Lynn is more infatuated with her own image than him. Lynn to ensure that she gets what she wants sells her fiancée out to some hoodlums to ensure he will continue, and through psychotic shenanigans and lasers everyone dies.
The music score is phenomenal, Bill McGuffie has excellent taste. The camera work during the party or the kills are great at conveying the sense of panic and disorientation the character feel. I enjoyed the costume destines miss that 60’s chic look. Though things seem to jump out of nowhere the plot is relatively solid for the most part, even the more absurd instances have an explanatory follow up.
As good as the editing can be during the disorienting scenes, the rest of the film is quite jarring. Terrible pacing. There is no metric denoting the passage of time; I often found myself wondering if it was the same day, week or month, What? Steve and Lynn’s sister are getting married? How long have they known each other? We don’t have any idea how long the operations effects last, long enough to give false hope and short enough to need a steady supply of bodies. The first half of the film is a slog to get through. The first fifteen minutes had me questioning my watch and the ending comes out of nowhere and hits like a bullet train.
Character motivation is my biggest gripe, specifically that of Lynn. At the start she makes it clear that she doesn’t care about modeling, stating that she was going to retire once married because she found someone that truly loves her. Then the accident happens and her image becomes her only focus; she becomes vapid and narcissistic, trading lives for looks. Steve seems only to show up for exposition or to be superman. John is little more than a whipped Frankenstein wannabee with a laser, Val (Lynn’s sister) has such little agency I genuinely forgot her name for the most part of this review.
The Ugly- my opinion
Apropos considering the plot of the film. Corruption is a short film but it feels like a marathon. The effects aren’t terrible but not astounding. Flat characters which is odd considering the power house that is Peter Cushing. This is not a good film. It’s not a so bad it’s good film either. It’s dry, convoluted, and insulting.
Typically, when I watch an old movie I suspend modern sensitivities and try to frame it in the cultural minds set of the period, but the depiction of women in this film is detestable; vain, fragile, single minded shrew that use men to do there bidding. The marketing too was grotesque, and not in the macabre way, ‘Corruption is not a woman’s picture!… Therefore: no woman will be admitted alone to see this super-shock film!’ alone or not, if you respect yourself and your time forget admittance all together. (2 / 5)
Movies n TV
The Beach House, a Film Review
The Beach House (2019) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown starring Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, and Jake Weber.
The Beach House (2020) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown. This film stars Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber, and Maryann Nagel. As of this review, this film is only available on Shudder.
Desperate to rekindle their strained love, Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) escape to a beach getaway. They soon learn to find that family friends of Randall’s father, Mitch (Jake Weber), and Jane (Maryann Nagel), also had a similar idea. After getting used to each other, a mysterious fog engulfs the town. Unfortunately, they realize too late the danger they find themselves in.
What I Like
Body horror gets under my skin, and The Beach House certainly lives up to the standard. There’s something magical about creatures terraforming your body to their preferred environment, turning humans into nothing more than conscious prisoners in their own flesh. While I wouldn’t consider this film the most traumatic or unsettling example, it utilizes wonderfully grotesque scenes.
Aside from the body horror, the film drops a few Cosmic Horror–or Lovecraftian–vibes that go together perfectly. Another favored genre of mine, this combination ensures the odds are overwhelmingly against our human leads.
Beyond the grotesque, visuals might not overwhelm but certainly succeed in their goal. Several scenes provide an intentionally tranquil experience that contrasts with the grotesques and improves their effectiveness.
In terms of performance, each actor hits their mark. While some roles require less effort, each contributes to the plot as intended. The standout performance goes to Liana Liberato’s Emily, who acts as co-lead. She simply has the most to work with and lives up to the part.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
As “body horror” should indicate, this film will hit hard for the more squeamish viewer. While horror by nature has some amount of grotesque, body horror brings that grotesque to the next level. While I don’t particularly find The Beach House hitting harder than its competition, it certainly respects its chosen genre.
What I Dislike or Considerations
A few scenic montages may hit or miss depending on your interpretation. While I have my own theories, that speculation goes beyond the scope of this review. Many of these scenes overlap more philosophical conversations and musings that may annoy or add layers. This strategy seems a common practice in Cosmic Horror, which forces characters to rationalize the irrational.
It’s hard for me to understand how secretive or known this event is supposed to be in the film’s world. Individuals know something outside of the town, with evidence implying governmental knowledge. This information creates a contrivance–perhaps, even a plot hole–because the characters had to reach this isolated town without any opposition.
One of the visuals didn’t exactly grab me. While I won’t go into too much detail, an effect looked too visually similar to a common animal that barely survives rain. It’s hard to be threatened by that. It also doesn’t exactly match up with some of the other visuals. Even the creatures that look similar to it still look different enough to provide a more alien assumption.
There are moments when the infected chase our main characters by crawling at them. While the context works, with injured characters helping to sell them, I can’t help but find these scenes amusing as opposed to frightening. Yes, it’s certainly visually different from the plethora of zombies out there, but it’s also less frightening than zombies that leisurely walk to their targets.
The Beach House combines cosmic and body horror to create an uncomfortable film that tests its characters. For those who enjoy these genres, it will certainly entertain you, but I doubt it will frighten you. I imagine the mood to watch it again might strike me, but I’m not entirely certain it will stand the test of time. (3 / 5)
If this movie suits your fancy and you want more, Honeymoon seems an appropriate recommendation.
Movies n TV
Every Secret Thing, a Film Review
Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener, based on Laura Lippman’s novel.
Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener. This R-rated film stars Diane Lane, Danielle Macdonald, Dakota Fanning, and Elizabeth Banks. Based on Laura Lippman’s novel of the same name, the film adaptation is accessible through MAX and DirecTV.
When a little girl goes missing, Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) spirals into an all too familiar tale. As pressure mounts, Alice Manning (Danielle Macdonald) and Ronnie Fuller (Dakota Fanning) become the leading suspects. The strained frenemies unravel under the attention and reminders of their shared past.
What I Like
The film unravels in a non-chronological structure but makes it easy for the viewer to follow. It helps that the age difference clearly divides the younger actors, who change actors. One casting choice resembles their older counterpart, and the acting reflects a strong direction for their shared role.
Unreliable narration remains expertly communicated with scenes that change perspectives depending on whose perspective we view them from. This choice adds a reason to view the film twice, providing extra ambiguity for some of these events.
The camera gets up close and personal to an uncomfortable degree, which almost certainly presses the actors’ performances. This choice places the viewer in the character’s perspective and limits us from others’ perspectives to add extra credence to these biases.
Every Secret Thing provides a spiraling mystery that unravels with several twists and turns. Assuming the novel provided the outline, this film executes these points and keeps a consistently engaging experience throughout the runtime.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Child abuse and neglect remain the central plot points of Every Secret Thing. Little of this abuse appears in scenes, but there is no escaping the danger children are in throughout the film.
Self-harm and suicide are shown throughout the film (once in the case of suicide) through one specific character. It isn’t glorified or romanticized nor addressed with particular sensitivity. For those sensitive to these subjects, it might be triggering.
Racism, the assumed motive for the bi-racial victims, plays a small role in the film’s narrative. However, character motives remain more complex, but going further spoils some elements. This film decision does create the reality that bi-racial children are the victims of child neglect and abuse in the film with little additional context. It does invite uncomfortable speculation, but speculation it would be.
Sexual assault is another concern for viewers, specifically statutory rape. This issue seems particularly mismanaged, considering the survivor remains an antagonist. One can be both survivor of assault and an antagonist of a film without needing to discredit the assault. While little appears of this issue, and the manipulation angle can indicate a perspective shift, it’s hard to refute how the film wants to represent this attack.
What I Dislike
Loosely tied to the above point, one character seems mentally off and purposely so. This point doesn’t inherently create an issue, but there seems to be a choice to make this character a mastermind. Perhaps this is better addressed in the book, but the execution is far from perfect here.
A newspaper montage reveals essential information which feels oddly misplaced. Practically the entire setup for the film appears through this montage, which creates the necessity to read these headlines in the minimal time given.
As a horror, nothing but the events are haunting. Children being abused or kidnapped always haunts, but the terror of this remains secondary to the mystery. While the mystery is nice, this film won’t particularly scare the seasoned horror fan.
Every Secret Thing unravels a mystery of opportunism, selfishness, and deception. While the movie won’t haunt the viewer, it certainly unravels a mystery that shocks them. The nuanced and deceptive characters add a layer of engagement that creates a unique experience, but I doubt this movie will linger in my mind.
(2.5 / 5)
Movies n TV
Quid Pro Woe
We’ve now reached episode six of Tim Burton’s Wednesday. And after the last episode, this one did not disappoint.
We start with Wednesday attempting to contact Goody Addams. Last episode, if you’ll recall, Morticia explained the difference between a psychic dove and a raven. Since Goody Addams was the last raven psychic in the family line, it’s got to be her that trains Wednesday.
But her seance is a failure, and Wednesday is interrupted by a magazine note shoved under the door. It says to meet someone at a crypt for answers.
When she gets there, it turns out that her friends have put together a surprise birthday party for her. Before she can cut the cake, however, she has a vision.
Goody Addams tells her that she must find a specific gate. After some investigation, Wednesday discovers it’s the gate to the old Gates house.
Wednesday goes to investigate, but she isn’t the only one. She is nearly discovered by Mayor Walker. He is also investigating the Gates family, even though they’re all reported to be dead. He leaves a message for Sheriff Galpin and is almost immediately run over by a car.
This incident is enough to get Wednesday’s town villages revoked. Though this seems like an empty punishment since the whole school is on lockdown. Someone burned Fire Will Rain on their front lawn.
Wednesday isn’t one for believing the rules apply to her. She has it in her head that she’s meant to save Nevermore Academy, probably from whatever descendent of Crackstone who’s still around. So she has no problem lying to Enid and Tyler and convincing them to help her sneak off campus and explore the Gates house further.
This, of course, is an incredibly informative trip. The kids find a hidden altar to Crackstone, as well as the missing body parts from the monster’s victims. They also find evidence that someone’s been staying in the house. Someone who’s staying in what looks like a little girl’s room.
Before they can find anything more, the monster finds them. They barely escape, and go to the sheriff with what they find.
Of course, the house has been cleared out by the time Sheriff Galpin arrives. Furious that his son was almost killed, he tells Wednesday to stay away from him.
Because that always works, right?
Galpin isn’t the only one angry. Enid is fed up with the way Wednesday has been treating her. And so she leaves their room to bunk with someone else, leaving Wednesday alone.
This episode was well done. The discoveries at the house were exciting, and I’m almost sure I know who’s behind the murders at this point. Overall, this was a good ramp-up to the season finale.
Finally, this episode did something I was worried just wasn’t going to happen. And for that alone, it deserves praise.
Wednesday has been incredibly selfish and inconsiderate since the first episode. She’s been rude and demanding towards Thing. She’s ignored her friends’ needs and emotions while insisting they put themselves in danger for her investigation. She has respected no one’s boundaries, even while other people have at least tried to respect hers.
And now, it’s finally come back to bite her. All of the people who have been doing their best to show her kindness and support are finally done with her bullshit.
Yes, this is a good thing! Characters are best when they’re allowed to learn and grow. When they don’t come to us flawless. When they mess up and learn from it. Especially for a show aimed at kids, this is essential.
If you’d asked me at the beginning of the season if this character was going to experience honest character growth, I’d have assured you it would never happen. Much to my surprise, it’s happening. I hope that Wednesday is going to come out of this a better person. With two episodes left in the season, there’s plenty of time for that. (4 / 5)