Posted: 04/07/2006

 

The Corruption of Chris Miller

(1972)

by Barry Meyer



Poor Chris Miller doesn’t like those stormy nights


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Any movie that starts out with a killer in a Charlie Chaplin get-up plugging away at his latest victim like she’s a pin cushion has got to be worth a look.

In The Corruption of Chris Miller the silent screen star serial slasher has struck in a quiet Spanish country village, leaving its citizens terrified. Amongst the anxious denizens is Chris Miller (played with exotic innocence by the Spanish ex-child starlet Marisol) a nervous young lady to whom rain storms spark bizarre flashbacks of a vile looking body builder who sexual assaults her in a gym shower. The beguiling young lady lives in a country manor with her stepmother Ruth (Breathless sensation Jean Seberg), an embittered divorcee who is still furious that her rogue husband has abandoned her, leaving her to care for his teenage daughter. As revenge Ruth secretly torments her charge by cutting the power to her bedroom lights whenever the thunder rumbles, driving the poor girl into a pillow-stabbing frenzy. She seeks to corrupt the girl’s sanity, and when a rugged stranger (Prey’s Barry Stokes) shows up at her doorstep during a terrible thunderstorm, she’s found the perfect catalyst to corrupt her stepdaughter’s chaised innocence. But it’s not just the girl the drifter has his reckless eyes on, he’s also been pillaging the houses of the frightened locals, and now seeks to dig up whatever treasures are hidden in Ruth’s house, be they virtuous or monetary. Meanwhile, the sickle grasping killer is still on the loose, and it could be any one of the three inhabitants of the secluded country manor.

The Corruption of Chris Miller is part Gothic mystery, part sexual thriller, part feminist diatribe, part slasher flick. The setup itself isn’t much of a stretch from the usual “stranger comes in from the rain” thrillers; it’s director Juan Antonio Bardem’s use of allegorical visuals and character shading that sets it apart and makes this flick entertaining, keeping the viewer’s interest piqued by dropping subtle clues to the character’s secret id. Like when the innocent Chris Miller is besieged by flashback images of her rape, she appears terribly distressed, but in the midst of all her maddened thrashing she is intently sucking down a cigarette – a Freudian phallic inference? There’s also the hostility that Ruth brazenly demonstrates towards her stepdaughter, but many times she is also seen tenderly stroking the girl’s hair and skin in a more-than-motherly fashion. An incestuous lesbian relationship is never fully broached on screen, but Ruth does warn Chris that “Men are bad. Men will hurt you. A woman would never hurt you.” It’s the subtle kinky undertones like these that make a film like The Corruption of Chris Miller stand out from the usual Gothic lesbian feminist slasher flicks.

Barry Meyer is a writer living in Jersey, but that’s his fault.



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