Shock Corridor - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shock Corridor Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 10, 2013
While the movie is watchable enough for its content, Peter Breck's acting was ridiculously overdone. Besides, the fillers were yawn-inducing. Appealing as its title is, the movie itself isn't. Watching once shouldn't hurt, though. In fact, like many others, you may even come to cherish it.
Super Reviewer
June 14, 2012
A gloryhound newspaperman goes undercover at a mental hospital ... and the rest is movie history in Samuel Fuller's 1963 epic of over-the-top, must see, apocalyptic, societal condemning, ravings of a madman. See a stripper portrayed as the most moral person in society, that alone reason to watch, even as Fuller exploits her every chance he gets ...
Super Reviewer
June 27, 2007
Unique, existential psychological thriller that combines all things that polarize society into one scenary, time taboos to provoke and confront, seduce and repel. Fuller's aesthetics are vivid, surreal, a perfect hook to get into a bizarre game of identities.
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2012
I've been a stranger to the work of Samuel Fuller, but I'm planning to change all of that as soon as I can get my hands on some of his other films. Shock Corridor tells the story of a reporter trying to get the big scoop by going undercover as a patient at a mental hospital where the truth about a murder rests within the residents, all in an effort to get the coveted Pulitzer Prize award. I was absolutely floored by how good this film is. It gets right in your face with issues that would have been nothing more than subtleties in other films by other filmmakers at the time, yet there's a cleverness to it and the film has more to say than just addressing the issues themselves. Peter Breck gives a great performance, as does Constance Towers. We spend the entire film getting to know all of the patients and the staff at the hospital, and it never gets boring - not ever for a minute. You're constantly engaged in what's going on as Peter Breck's character slowly descends into madness, but you're barely aware of it as the film goes on. I'd love to see Samuel Fuller top this film, and judging by his reputation and the film's merit alone, I believe he can do just that.
Super Reviewer
January 18, 2009
Welcome to the bizarre world of Samuel Fuller - where a black man is the Imperial Wizard of the KKK and being locked in a room full of hot nymphomaniacs is a 'bad' thing.
Super Reviewer
½ February 20, 2011
A journalist has himself committed to a mental institution to try to solve a murder. This mix of lurid melodrama, heavy-handed symbolism (America in 1963 is an insane asylum!), and nympho assaults shouldn't work at all, but Sam Fuller's passionate direction turns it into something maddeningly entertaining.
Super Reviewer
½ May 4, 2007
I have one word for you "Nymphos"
Super Reviewer
½ October 23, 2006
A fantastic movie that gets nearly none of the recognition it deserves. The musical number, the color flashbacks worked into black and white monologues and the dreams were all fantastically done. The acting almost rivals the direction even with some really heavy-handed dialogue. An amazing premise with plenty of random and uneasy moments that never allows you to lower your guard (despite his easy-going nature, I waited for Pagliacci to go batshit on Johnny) and the scene with the nymphos scared the living shit out of me. Every moment you wait to see Shock Corridor is a complete and total waste of time.
Super Reviewer
June 30, 2007
Saw this a long time ago, but can't remember if I liked it. Better see it again before I rate it.

UPDATE: Finally got a chance to seee this again, and I was NOT disapponted. It's my first Samuel Fuller film, and if the others are of this quality I can't wait for the rest.
Peter Breck plays a journalist on the big story that will win him a Pulitzer. He has himself committed to a mental hospital to get a story about a patient murder, and finds that he is slowly coming just as unhinged as the people he is observing.

While some of the film is dated, in particular the scene with the "nymphos", and some is just offensive -- Dr. Cristo's implication that Cathy is bringing on John's "Illness" by encouraging John's incestuous behavior, for example (reminds me of all those years of women being blamed for bringing on rapes by being too seductive) -- for the most part, the film is extremely well-done. The scenes of Stuart and Trent's revelations about the origins of their respective mental illnesses were moving at times, and special props have to go to Larry Tucker as wife-killer "Pagliacci." I've never seen this guy before, and he was great. He had this weird half-happy fat guy/half-nutso serial killer laugh that really got me. I would have liked him to have more screen time. In bragging on the supporting players, I don't want to take away from Breck himself. He did a good job in general, and a great job in a couple of scenes where he has started cracking.

I get the impression that Sam Fuller had a real problem -- as everyone should -- with the Southern racial attitudes of the 1950s and 60s. Both Stuart and Trent's illnesses stemmed from experiences they had in the South -- Stuart being raised by bigoted Southern parents, Trent being the only black student in an all-white Southern university. Someone more versed in Fuller can probably fill me in on this.

A couple of things -- besides the stuff I already mentioned -- that I wasn't fond of were 1) the ending, which seemed a little Twilight-Zoney and tacked-on, and 2) I've never been a fan of Constance Towers (she reminds me of a second-rate Joan Crawford for some reason). I've always found her performances kinda flat, and she fits that bill here with one of the lamest-ass stripteases I've ever seen.

One thing that gave me pause -- Even though the film was made in B&W, the mental patients dreams were in color. I dream in color. Coincidence?
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2011
Very powerful stuff. The storytelling, the acting, the mood, the visuals. Again, very powerful controversial stuff. Samuel Fuller is a filmmaker (like Martin Scorsese, Quientin Tarantino) isn't afraid to take risks and in this case it's all in "Shock Corridor" the story of a man who goes to mental hospital who pretends to go mentally insane to get information from the patients he conversates with in order to get a Pulitzer Prize.

What I admire is Fuller's bold messages, an inmate who uses racial slurs to show America's insane obsession with racism, a prostitute who has a heart of gold, and finally the corrupt system of the beast (corruption in society, greed, media, politics) it's all there and it's all evident, inside of an insane asylum. Great stuff by the master director Samuel Fuller.
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2009
What can you write on Samuel Fuller's work without looking like a moron? I don't want to resort to academic criticisms which sound empty to people who haven't studied film, but can FEEL when a film is good or bad.

Samuel Fuller's films ARE "bad". But his art is THE RE-DEFINITION of bad. His films work their way into your mind like a worm. If I had to compare him to someone, I would compare him to Trier and Bergman. His work reminds me of both, in terms of emotional impact, of the way he paces his films, of the cruel insight he has on reality's worst aspects.

Fuller's films are a life-time experience. I don't think anyone should let critics and academia lead them on this and tell them how and what they should think of a film, what's more this one. Just get there yourself and (unlike his characters) remember the way to get back...
Super Reviewer
½ March 6, 2009
From "The Manchurian Candidate" to "Night of the Living Dead", so many films from the turbulent 60s reflect the conflicts, confusion, instability and turmoil of the era in which they were made. Few, however, managed to do it as literally "Shock Corridor".

When a reporter decides to infiltrate a mental hospital in order to solve a murder and win a Pulitzer, he finds himself in a condensed microcosm of the United States: a madhouse where bigotry, a failed civil rights movement, war and the threat of nuclear annihilation have come to define its patients/citizens. As our lead gets closer to the murderer, he begins to lose his mind.

The film makes no apologies for its crude, B-movieness (on the contrary, it is proud of its roots) or lack of subtlety. There is no doubt this was a labor of love for Sam Fuller, its writer-director, who had something unequivocal to say and made no bones about it. The film is well acted, well written and works quite well both as a fun genre picture and as something more.
August 3, 2012
I really wanted to enjoy this but felt that it was pretty weak. It happens. It seemed too predictable and campy in a way that turned me off.
½ June 16, 2010
Wildly overrated, the acting wanders from good to overdone to the point of being annoying. We are then subjected to a series of rants on race relations for some reason, I guess this is "bold" for the 1960s, or the middle of the whole civil rights movement. Oh, and there's a murder mystery that is solved almost the minute Barratt walks into the ward, or at least the minute Trent mentions the white pants. This leads to some long, boring searching by Barratt as he predictably loses his mind. The plotholes are gaping, unless they're dealing with the least competent, laziest mental hospital in the country, but I guess one that doesn't notice an attendant murdering a patient COULD qualify for that honor.
½ June 13, 2009
Shock Corridor is a psychodrama from the vigorously independent mind of American film auteur Samuel Fuller. i found it to be
compelling and disturbing.
½ October 11, 2008
If you've seen One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest then watching this movie, set in a mental ward, seems a little goofy. There are a few nice performances, but it seems mostly to be written by someone who has no idea what mentally insane people are really like.
January 12, 2012
A tale of irony in the vein of EC comics, Shock Corridor is Samuel Fuller's work of genius and far ahead of its time. Fuller pulls some absolutely great performances out of his cast. Everyone delivers the goods. Each character is so wild and outlandish while the actors playing them still maintain believability. Peter Breck is outstanding in the lead. All of the patients are either hysterically funny or scary funny, from Stuart (Rosco P. Coltrane in a memorable role) on down to Pagliacci. But the real standout in the movie is Hari Rhodes in the role of Trent, the white supremecist. His flawless performance disturbs me (you'll know if you've seen the movie). He could be the best actor ever. What else can I say about this movie, it's an insanely perfect pulp piece. Shock Corridor is an unreal experience, film noir at its best, and truly a cult movie.
April 24, 2010
This 1963 film is harsh, grotesque, and violent-and, incidentally, brilliant in a very original way.
November 6, 2014
I really liked this movie. I thought it was going to be a pretty standard noir flick but once we get into the asylum it's both horrifying and hilarious. One thing that irked me about this story though was how the insane man at the end could write a pulitzer prize winning article when he's not even aware what's real and what's not, besides providing an ending that's both satisfying and alarming.
August 19, 2014
A rousing pulp narrative as much as a psychological showcase of a descent into madness, Shock Corridor is one of Sam Fuller's most impressive films. A film eons ahead of it's time in terms of style and subject matter, many might find it unbelievable that this type of American film existed before the dawn of New Hollywood. Shot with a keen eye for detail, along with occasional explanatory sequences that are done in full color, the film certainly exists as it is through Sam Fuller's background as a journalist, but he's also able to capture the film's more fantastic elements in a way that doesn't feel inappropriate. Funny, original, and ultimately tragic, Shock Corridor gives One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest a worthy adversary for the title of "Best Insane Asylum" movie.
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