A fight erupts at a photographer's party and Dr. John Rowan's fiancé ends up in a horrible accident leaving her face burned and scarred. To try and help his wife, John comes up with a way to surgically fix her scars with tissue from a dead person. When they realize it works, but that it won't last due to the tissue being dead, his fiancé begins to push him to get fresher tissue. And there is only one way...
Let's start by applauding the amazing DVD/Blu-ray combo release by Grindhouse Releasing, it's really outstanding in quality, extras and how wonderful it looks (a blu-ray without the blue case is gold to me). Worth noting is that the blu-ray comes with two versions, one that was cut for the US/UK market, and the uncut version for the international market. My review focuses more on the overall movie, which obviously is the same in both, but I'll make sure to note a difference in the gore/nudity department later in the review. Needless to say, this release is a blessing from Grindhouse Releasing whether you actually love the movie or not - it's a piece of Peter Cushing history well worth preserving.
Peter Cushing plays the surgeon John Rowan. When he's at a party with his fiancé, a model, a photographer wants to take pictures of her. It's not the first time he's taken pictures of her, but this time he's asking her to take off her clothes and John puts a stop to it. John starts fighting the photographer, and they accidently hit a light which falls right in the face of his lovely fiancé. Her modeling days are now over, as she's badly burned and scarred. But John has an idea - to take the skin off of a dead person and apply it to her. And to his and everybody's surprise, it works. For a while, that is. While on vacation her face is slowly returning to its horrid state. They head home and John is desperate to find a solution. He realizes that the mistake was that he used dead tissue, and the fiancé is now pushing him to go out for fresh, living tissue.
I think it's wrong to call this sleaze, as that's only the case in one scene in the international cut - his visit to a prostitute, where she's killed in her birthday suit. The rest of the movie is not really sleazy, not is Peter Cushing's John a sleazeball. He's actually quite a nice man, albeit desperate and forced to kill by his fiancé. But that's why I enjoyed the movie too. He's not really a maniac, but he's pushed into it to restore her beauty. There are a few great scenes that border on creepy, my favorite being on a train (but again this scene is superior in the international cut).
After a few classic scenes and a few purely entertaining ones, we're treated to a rather strange ending. I'll rather not spoil it as I hope many of you decide to pick this up. It's over-the-top for its time and I'm not quite sure if it actually fits, but it does offer some unique shots and differentiates heavily from the rest of the movie. It's certainly not a forgettable ending. That said, a darker ending would have been nice. This ending was probably more effective back in the late 60's, but now it's mostly just fun and weird. I doubt that was the plan originally.
"Corruption" isn't as sleazy as advertised, but in the 60's it probably was. Either way, this is a great release to own. It's a lost classic that deserves its restoration and Grindhouse Releasing went all out with it. Peter Cushing is his usual great self, the story is fun and it has an over-the-top and strange ending that makes the price tag all the more worth it. Watch the international version if you want some extra gore and nudity - it's not much but it does add to the movie.
The ratings below are based on the international cut.