Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coming Soon: Ken Russell: Re-Viewing England's Last Mannerist

Very shortly, Ken Russell: Re-Viewing England's Last Mannerist (Scarecrow Press; 2009), will become available for purchase. This new, hardcover book is a collection of essays about the artist behind such controversial movies as The Devils (1971), Tommy (1975), Crimes of Passion (1984) and Whore (1991). The anthology has been assembled and edited by Kevin Flanagan, maestro of GameCulture Journal, dedicated Russell historian, and film scholar.

The critical anthology features essays by writers John C. Tibbetts, Barry Keith Grant, Paul Sutton, Brian Hoyle, William Verrone, Brian Faucette, and Thomas Prasch.

For Part IV: Critical Re-Considerations, I also contributed a piece, entitled "As the White Worm Turns: Ken Russell as God and Devil of Rubber-Reality Horror Cinema," which gazes at Russell's considerable impact on the genre in the 1980s with such efforts as Altered States (1980), Lair of the White Worm (1988) and, to a lesser-extent, Gothic (1986).

Here's a (very short) snippet of my work, which defines the nature of "rubber reality" and relates to Russell's visual style:

"In films of this genre sub-type, the dramatis personae easily, and in trademark Russell fashion, glide between alternate realities, often quite indiscernibly to audiences. There is often no traditional scene transition between these parallel “modes” of reality and fantasy. The phantasms of the unconscious and subconscious mind are often physically externalized as tangible and tactile. Furthermore, state-of-the-art special effects breakthroughs create these fantasy domains (in miniature, in matte paintings, etc.), just as in Altered States.

I've long admired Ken Russell and his bold visual imagination, so it was a great pleasure to be involved in this study and re-evaluation of his cinematic output and his career. Soon, I'll be interviewing Kevin Flanagan here on the blog about his new book, about the essays inside it, and about Russell's place in film history. Stay tuned!


  1. Please keep us informed. I just had a look for a pre-order but nothing out there yet.

    Kind Regards,

    sic friat crustulum

  2. It's great that you could contribute to this book, JKM. Russell's work did have a significant contribution, especially to the 80's. I couldn't help myself when you mentioned the 1980 Altered States in your excerpt. Having read the Paddy Chayefsky novel beforehand, and seen what he did with it, KR was the perfect director for that film. So much so, get ready for the flashback, it garnered a small but wonderful homage in the group Aha's Take On Me music video later in that decade. Good stuff. Thanks for the post.