Wednesday, June 30, 2021


Lotsa stuff both etapoint and aerie-faerie snobbish has been written about this li'l low-fi masterpiece so maybe I should clam it for the sake of brevity. But man if SHOCK CORRIDOR just ain't one of those films that, like THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER, SUNSET BOULEVARD or (pardon me Don Fellman) DETOUR just cuts you worse than a rusty knife giving you an aftereffect worse than tetanus. It just sucks you up into its vortex (I threw that part in to show that I too can be a sophisticated uppercrust film snoot) and spits you out with such a velocity that you too feel like the human debris that litter this film to the point where you might just wonder just what it was that kept you from going over to that side where reality just ain't gonna hurt you anymore.

In order to inject some personal info to make this review not only come off "hip 'n with it" but to show that I too have a life I gotta say that I sure didn't learn about SHOCK CORRIDOR the way the rest of you superior beings have. Oddly enough I might never have known about the thing other'n that the fambly had, as many others did, saved the JFK headburst edition of the local paper which I would occasionally peruse if only to read the comics and tee-vee listing pages. The ad that appeared that very day made it seem like the sleaziest, most down 'n durty sort of film that one mighta been more accustomed to seeing at one of those roach-infested theatres where Fellman would sneak a peak at some Sci-Fi cheapoid if only he had the wherewithal. But really, it's a way more on-target, well made and hard hitting feature than that ad led me to believe.

I never really cared for Peter Breck as the middle son on ABC's attempt at a BONANZA-styled family western THE BIG VALLEY. Come to think of it his role as an up-'n-comin' reporter on the hunt for a Pulitzer Prize trying to find out about a murder at a mental hospital didn't really make me wanna like him any more. But as the film progresses and the tale gets downright frightening it redeems any past prejudices on my part. Like, this guy had it down to a point where I'm surprised that Breck himself wasn't taken away to the institution upon film's completion its that believable to the point where you think you can actually smell the piss. Man, this guy was an actor who never did get the roles that he deserved!

That search for the killer really does take its weird twists and turns when Breck discovers that the denizens of this hellish existence do have their moments of sanity in which Breck attempts to exude clues about just what did happen to the inmate and why, a task that has Breck doing a pretty good job fooling the experts into thinking that he really does have the hots for his cyster (Constance Towers, doing a role that really brings back memories of what femininity used to mean), actually Breck's galpal making ends meet as a stripper who's in on the big charade going to limits most would deem beyond reason.

Breck's travails are nothing but extremely nerve-twisting as he corners the witnesses to the murder. There's the defecting Korean War vet, a black guy who's gone White Power after failing at a once-segregated Southern university not only letting himself but his family down, and a nuclear scientist reduced to a Joe Besser-esque nimble-minded child after he realized the potential carnage of his efforts. You can't blame any of 'em and the acting from these three inmates (as well as that from the uber-obese Larry Tucker as "Pagliacci") really do affect one even if Hari Rhodes as the student does tend to reek of an early-sixties Civil Rights sensitivity that even Sidney Poitier woulda puked at. Well, he's a way more sympathetic character 'n alla those twerking lowlife thugs who have been looting stores knowin' that no cop'd have the balls to shoot at 'em I'll tell ya.

James Best as the Korean War turncoat who thinks he's Jeb Stuart's what really makes this film for me. Lemme tell ya that his monologue about his life and betrayal and eventual return is enough to drive a knife through any heart, so real and breathing that just thinking about his pleas to Breck about how he wants to be free should make any stout heart want to hide that swelling in the throat lest they blubber like a big baby.  And (no spoiler alerts needed) the even more soul-searing conclusion to this tragedy will probably leave you stunned and wonderin' whether or not we really all are those Frankies that Alan Vega sang about. You probably will be deeply affected by the whole thing unless you don't have a soul, which I kinda doubt since I am positive that most of you readers don't even have one to begin with.

And if this all makes me a fag then gimme a tube of K-Y and call me Michelangelo Signorile!

But why believe me since you never did. Watch the thing yourself and tell me that this just ain't the most wrenching, maddening thing you've ever seen in your born days:


Brad said...

Thanks for the heads up chris. Always up for a nerve frying film ala the sadist.

debs said...

oooooooo.... scary...



Alvin Bishop said...

I gave it about 20 minutes, time I'll ne er get back. (Chuckle!)

I don't understand the fascination with kitsch or camp, not when there is, say, Federico Fellini or Ingmar Bergman or Charlie Chaplin available.

Then again, to each their own!


debs said...

lol your youtube link is dead lol retard-o :)

Christopher Stigliano said...

So buy a DVD you ditz!