When Vinegar Syndrome first announced Roger Watkins’ Corruption as a surprise Blu-ray release on Black Friday, I wasn’t all that familiar with it outside of its theatrical one-sheet which I had come across in various avenues over the past few years. But I had absolutely no idea then that it was from the guy behind Last House on Dead End Street, a grimy piece of sleaze which I have developed some sort of ill placed affection for over the past ten years, despite having never seen it in (or under) the best condition(s). To say that I was excited to finally lay my eyes and ears on Corruption would be an understatement, but that initial anticipation never turned into disappointment, finding not only a well-dressed, smart piece of adult cinema but a film that could be considered one of the best – and most unappreciated – thrillers of the 1980s.
Now, to call Corruption a “thriller” may get a certain audience in a mindset that isn’t going to gel with Watkins’ film. Corruption is a thriller in the way that film like Performance and/or Fingers are thrillers. It’s decidedly avant-garde, doesn’t hold the viewer’s hand and it withholds as much (if not more) information than it is likely to give away. Personally, I find this refreshing. Corruption is all about atmosphere. Each room that our lead (Jamie Gillis) walks into, has some sort of sinister and erotic dimension going for it that is a bit different from where he came from (and will come next…). It’s sort of structured like a horizontal version of The Raid, instead of there being a floor of ass kicking Indonesians to face off against, there’s creepy motherfuckers in Mephisto-esque facepaint and holes to fill. Make no mistake, Corruption is absolutely adult cinema. The sex is upfront, constant and perfectly photographed by Larry Revene. Yet, like the best sex pictures, it never overstays its welcome and it always manages to be erotic. For a film that runs a very lean 79 minutes, it is essential that every second works and Watkins wastes not a moment.
Despite all of this, I’m not sure who I would recommend Corruption to. There’s absolutely an audience for this that should be very happy to have it available now and looking this good, but it’s not an easy film to watch. Watkins keeps things dark. Exceptionally dark. Which should be of no surprise to any other fans of Last House on Dead End Street. But here things get even more morbid and the uneasiness of some (or most) of the sex is likely to rub some viewers the wrong way. However, if you go into Corruption expecting something along the more experimental lines of Nightdreams combined with the harsher sensibilities of something like Sex Wish, you should walk away pleased. Well, maybe not pleased. But you’ll find something to admire, for sure. And there’s a lot to.
Corruption makes its HD debut thanks to a Blu-ray release from Vinegar Syndrome and the result is definitely up to their high standards. For a film as dark as this is, the palette is surprisingly bright. With bold colors all around that pop with intensity, especially a scene towards the start of the film with exquisitely vibrant reds. It’s rather unreal. Damage is pretty much non-existent here and a nice layer of film grain is inherent throughout. Stunning work here. Audio comes as DTS HD MA 1.0 and I have no complaints. It’s not a particularly bombastic track, nor should it be. All of the dialogue, music and moans come through clearly and balanced.
For supplements, we start with a 12 minute interview with Larry Revene who is candid and informative. It’s a really great watch and gets pretty technical as well as personal, especially when discussion turns to Revene and Watkins history together. After that, we get a theatrical trailer and some ads and stills. But, there’s also a surprise in store for those who get this disc early. The first 2,000 copies will have an Easter egg that gives you the feature length Last House on Dead End Street, which is currently unavailable on Blu-ray. And it’s in HD and as complete as possible, looking much better than the DVD which has long gone out of print. Though it isn’t quite as nice as having the film on its own release, this is a very nice surprise and should make this disc a must buy for a lot of folks who have yet to see Corruption.
Roger Watkins Corruption is a beautiful, confounding piece of dark adult cinema that truly warrants a bigger audience than it has ever gotten. But that audience is going to have to find it. This is cinema that is as hard to recommend as it can be to watch, yet its rewards are enough that I would challenge adventurous viewers to seek it out more sooner than later. Especially considering the whopper of an extra that this first run of discs contains. The A/V presentation is stellar, as always, and Vinegar Syndrome has ended 2015 in a big way. What a year for them. Highly Recommended (with reservations).