Shock Corridor - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shock Corridor Reviews

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½ September 17, 2016
What does it mean that a movie is a cult movie? Danny Peary has a book about them but besides Rocky Horror, are there actually followings, people that congregate and pay homage to these movies? I can't think of a single movie Peary discusses in terms of a phenomenon of people besides RHPS.
Anyway, Peary's interesting observations on this movie:
-director's trademark is unpretentious movies for the working class
-you're not meant to identify with the protagonist (interesting, considering the first point) but you do identify with Cathy who (he thinks) is smart, and who's had it worst of anyone in the film
-no resemblance to real mental hospitals
-stuck on the crassness: it goes too far and for no reason but to be tawdry
-filmically punishes people who couldn't handle the responsibility of being race and cold war resisters, and the protagonist who's too ambitious/greedy.
July 5, 2016
Samuel Fuller proves to be a true auteur of film with Shock Shock corridor. Jump cuts, transitioning between black and white and color, and a story that makes the audience feels as though they're going as crazy as the main character of his film. What great about this film is that Fuller makes every attempt to pull the audience into his mind. You can't watch this film without becoming a part of it, which is the way it should be.
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2016
The depths that Johnny (Peter Breck) would go to in order to win a Pulitzer Prize is remarkable. He would risk his health and sanity for an award to boost his career. He even drags his girlfriend Cathy (Constance Towers) into the abyss with him. Johnny poses as a mental patient in order to gain admittance to a mental institution to solve a murder. This is the basis of Samuel Fuller's 1963 film "Shock Corrider."
Johnny is coached by an imminent psychiatrist to appear insane and to fabricate stories of incest with his "sister" unwittingly played by his girlfriend. Three witnesses witness the murder. All three were productive members of society until the stresses of war, bigotry and nuclear war regressed them into thinking they were Confederate soldiers, Ku Klux Klan members and six year old kids. Johnny is able to receive information from the three in little periods of time when they become rational before they fall apart again into a case of their delusions.
This is masterfully directed by Samuel Fuller and it's a shocking, disturbing film that shows in 100 minutes how fragile the human mind can be at times.
½ April 4, 2016
Some gaps in the story weaken this original psychological drama.
March 8, 2016
Gleefully free in its hilarious/tragic performances, as well as very complexly written and directed, but I just couldn't bear the stripper scene(s).
June 22, 2015
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.
½ May 6, 2015
A confronting & groundbreaking film about a somewhat crazy Journalist bent on getting the Pulitzer Prize by pretending to be insane to figure a mysterious murder in the asylum a few years back.

The starkness of the film is undeniable & all the fascinating side characters that make up the asylum are a movie in themselves.

The film has some wonderful trick effects & has such a feel of tension & unease the whole way through. It's an exhilarating film that's a memorable one.
March 1, 2015
This 1963 film is harsh, grotesque, and violent-and, incidentally, brilliant in a very original way.
½ February 10, 2015
Another of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before... This was an actual grade B movie made by a famous director. It's inadvertently hilarious to watch. The only other film by Samuel Fuller I've seen was "The Big Red One" in 2004. Hard to believe that the same guy made these.
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.
June 25, 2014
Absolutely incorrect and undeservedly fun.
½ March 31, 2014
Monday, March 31, 2014

(1963) Shock Corridor

Written and directed by Samuel Fuller, and despite the critical acclaimed rating, I just wanted to say that before I watched this movie, the ending had already been revealed to me way before I had even started watching it, meaning that the surprising ending effect, had been lost way before the movie was even over. Furthermore, the movie already made suggestions sometime at the beginning, about what viewers are going to expect in advanced. It regards an egotistical, ambitious journalist, Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) attempting to solve an unsolved murder at a mental institution for the prestigious Pulitzer prize as his goal. He does this by pretending to act like one, for the intention of inquiring 3 specific mental patients who were said to be there when the murder occurred. What viewers are going to subject themselves to, are more than a hours worth of insane people screaming and babbling over nothing, just because this is what they do. There's a reason why I'm not a huge fan of these type of movies that dwell much of it's time in insane institutions, and this is precisely the reason. It is because, I as a sane viewer would have to subject myself to a considerable amount of time listening to actors/ actresses acting insane, even when viewers had already figured out the movie's point way before the movie is even over- it's like witnessing unnecessary additional scenes, just because it's supposed to be a two hour movie.

Footnote: Although, the movie is initially in black and white, it's dream sequences are in color.

2 out of 4 stars
March 25, 2014
What I thought would be a real B movie turned out to be a psychologically interesting film with great acting and story.
½ November 27, 2013
Take it as a high-class B-Schlock Thriller with bouts of anger and societal analysis rather than authentic psychoanalysis or attempt at uncovering a murder mystery, and you'll be rewarded.
½ October 9, 2013
Clássico bastardo ou um série-B com toda a dignidade dos melhores série-A, "Shock Corridor" é também um filme capaz de deixar um inchaço na memória de quem o vê, seja em que altura for. Samuel Fuller, no auge das suas capacidades, demonstra aqui como é e sempre será um dos autores mais capazes de colocar os personagens como peças num xadrez complexo e depois fazer com que essa estrutura resista aos mais violentos safanões de uma narrativa que progride como uma volta na montanha-russa. Lançar questões sobre a paranóia, a desconfiança e a fricção entre ideologias é mais ou menos fácil. Fazê-lo com esta classe e sem nunca entornar a feijoada é que não. Mas uma só vez não basta para apreciar "Shock Corridor" até porque deve haver mil maneiras de vê-lo. Além disso, é um dos poucos filmes em que é possível ver em acção o enorme Larry Tucker (que teria sido um actor muito mais solicitado se não fosse tão descaradamente obeso).
September 26, 2013
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.
½ August 17, 2013
Bonkos in every way possible, but quite possibly one of the most subversive and ballsy social commentaries of all time.
June 25, 2013
SHOCK CORRIDOR is certainly an odd movie. I didn't really know too much about it, or its writer/director Sam Fuller prior to purchasing the Criterion BluRay. I wouldn't say I've become a fan, exactly, but the movie does exert a certain weird power.

Filmed on a shoestring budget over just 10 days, SHOCK CORRIDOR tells the story of a print journalist and his strong desire to be committed to an insane asylum so that he can investigate a long-cold murder case. Three patients are known to have witnessed the crime, but none is coherent enough to give any info on the events. Our interpid hero Johnny (Peter Breck, looking like a young James Remarr) coerces his girlfriend Cathy (Constance Towers) into pretending to be his sister so she can claim to the authorities that her brother has tried to molest her. Johnny is committed to his desired asylum, and begins his investigation.

He enters the asylum as a person who is clearly obsessed with his desire to "get the story" and win a Pulitzer. He feels a little like a nut-job to us right from the start, and it's little surprise that all the insanity around him begins to chip away at his own state of mind.

In one way, Fuller is telling a kind of psychological horror story about one man's struggle against madness and the insanity of those around him. In 1963, this movie must have seemed quite "cutting edge" in its depiction of depravity of all sorts. I found it odd, for example, that Cathy works as a stripper because she's trying to save up money so she and Johnny can have a normal life. Johnny is clearly conflicted about her career, yet perhaps also titilated as well. This domestic situation, coupled with the rather strange story the two decide to concoct really makes us scratch our heads...but it also gave Fuller a chance to stage a number with Cathy performing. I don't know how her routine went over in '63, but today her outfit seems QUITE tame and her bump-and-grind is embarrasingly clumsy. Towers is supposed to exude sex appeal...but fails nearly completely. And the depictions of the behavior of all the mental patients are wildly over the top. In the accompanying booklet for the disc, Fuller talks about how he didn't want subtlety...he wanted to bludgeon his audience. If loud histrionics is what he wanted, he succeeded. At times the film is almost humorous when its clearly intending to be quite serious. But as the film continues, the almost constant lunacy and ridiculous behavior, along with frequent close-ups of starkly lit faces with lots of sweat on them begins to work a sort of spell on the audience. It never feels realistic, exactly, but the very nutso energy of the effort is oddly gripping.

I think the low budget and faced paced filming helped in some way. The film has the aesthetic of a TWILIGHT ZONE episode ("Eye of the Beholder" comes to mind), and feels like a TV show in the quality of its acting. However, this lets us feel that Fuller was COMPELLED to make this film, no matter the artistic sacrifice...and his efforts to take his meager resources and use them to the fullest actually work for him. The walls of the asylum and all the rooms are starkly furnished. The costumes are all the same shade of gray. The lighting (always from just one angle) is theatrical. I admired the look.

The flip side of this story, and the one that Fuller really wanted to convey, was an exploration of American society at the time. The three witnesses to the crime represent 3 aspects of America Fuller wanted to expose and condemn: war, racism & nuclear weaponry/McCarthyism. The power of these metaphorical characters has sadly diminished over time, until the device has become mostly too obvious to work. That being said, the best performance in the film comes from Hari Rhodes, a black college student driven to insanity thanks to the torment he suffered in college as the only student of color. He now believes his is a member of the KKK, and his hate filled speeches contain language of racism that is shocking and powerfully delivered.

On the other hand, the inmates of the "Women's Ward" are all nymphomaniacs, and when poor Johnny stumbles into their room, they circle and attack him like lusty zombies (you'll have to see it) in easily the most poorly executed and laughable scene in the film. The film is no doubt commenting somehow on the sexual revolution that was only beginning to think about emerging, or perhaps man's fear of woman's burgeoning power...but now it's just a head scratcher.

The film is only modestly well acted...Peter Breck tries mightily and sometimes his work is quiety effective and sometimes he reminds me of "evil Kirk" in one of William Shatner's most excruciating performances on STAR TREK. Towers is terribly miscast. Others in the cast are acceptable.

No, where the film suceeds is in its fervor, its passion and its single-minded desire to shock a reaction from the viewer. This is not a film-viewing experience for a casual viewer. It's truly a chance for film afficionadoes to view a tiny slice of film history that is seldom talked about but deserves a place in the discussion of movies of the '60s that began to pave the way for the truly revolutionary work that would come in the '70s. Fuller was a bit ahead of his time. SHOCK CORRIDOR is a fascinating experience.

The extras on this blu ray are only okay, in my opinion. THere is a lengthy but not terribly interesting moder interview with Towers. There is also a feature documentary on Fuller that is worthwhile. Otherwise, virtually nothing. No commentary track, which would actually have been quite welcome. The booklet, however, is excellent with both a nice critical discussion and some good excerpts from Fuller's autobiography. Another solid Criterion effort.
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