Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Shock Corridor


Sometimes a movie transcends its B origins and offers more than just a sensationalistic plot. This is about a reporter who wants to solve a murder that happened in an insane asylum, and decides to pretend to be crazy so he can go inside and investigate. He works hard at this, rehearsing with a real psychiatrist, and manages to land himself in the loony bin. Naturally, it turns out to be a lot more than he bargained for. It was written and directed by Samuel Fuller, who never got much recognition for most of his career, but lasted long enough to be “discovered” by film historians.

This whole thing is strange, in that it bounces back and forth between your standard silliness about how insane people behave, and some scenes of genuinely moving pathos. Most jolting of all was a black man who had been involved in sit-ins and freedom rides in the South and had lost his mind. Now he was a stone racist, railing against the niggers, stealing pillowcases to make into KKK hoods. Very creepy.

One other scene has to be mentioned, though, which is unintentionally hilarious. Our hero stumbles into a room in the women’s section of the laughing academy. There are a dozen young ladies in there, eyeing him like hungry tigers. Voiceover: “Nymphos!” He retreats in terror. They pile on him like Green Bay Packers. And they proceed to … to, well, to sort of … aw, hell, I’ll go ahead and say it. From the next scene, where his face is covered with bandages, I think we have to understand that they damn near hickeyed him to death!