Savage Messiah: Ken Russell > Savage Messiah: Ken Russell

Ken and Terence


Iain Fisher:
In today's Times Ken writes "memorable movies such as Revenge of Frankenstein" which is a Terence Fisher film.  He calls it "one of the most fun of the Hammer Horror films".

Yes, I enjoy Terence's films, too. Maybe because there is some connection between him and Ken, however slight.

Some more comments about Terence that could also be applied to Ken.

"more interested in sensation than sensational" p. 155.

"... fascination with the ambiguities and contradictions of identity." p. 220
Add the word sexual to the above statement and you have Russell. Has there ever been a director more interested in sexual ambiguities and contradictions than Russell?

"... most of my editing in the camera." p. 165

"... instincts often prove worthy." p. 166

"Selfish and emotionally manipulative women ..." p. 174

"his greatest strength: his closeups of facial expression." p.215

"The Men Who Made the Monsters" Paul M. Johnson

Next time: "Ken and Freddie"

Iain Fisher:
I like Terence Fisher's films.  The studio, Hammer, basically did cheap remakes of Universal horror films (Dracula, Frankenstein, the Werewolf, the Mummy) and their versions were good.  They had the advantage of two good actors, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee who together brought atmosphere to the Dracula films.  The initial Frankenstein films were less successful as they were not allowed to use the Boris Karloff Frankenstein makeup, so the Hammer Frankenstein looked very poor.

Terence Fisher did a lot of good stuff.  His biog from imdb does sound familiar: "Fisher left school while still in his teens to join the Merchant Marine. By his own account, he soon discovered that a life at sea was not for him, so he left the service and tried his hand at various jobs landside. It was during this time that he discovered the cinema. Entering the film industry as "the oldest clapper boy in the business," he eventually worked his way up to film editor. Almost as a lark, he applied to Rank to become a film editor. Unexpectedly, he was accepted."   Sounds just like Ken.


It is as if British films had not changed in thirty years. At least, British vampire films had not changed. The following statements were made about Terence Fisher's vampire films, beginning with his "Horror of Dracula" in 1958, but they could equally well apply to Ken's vampire or snakepire film "Lair of the White Worm" in 1988.

". . . the face and appeal of evil are depicted vividly and with insight." p. 156

"one of the greatest thing that the Power of Evil has is [the ability] to make its temptation tremendously attractive." p. 156

"villains [or villainesses] are often handsome [or beautiful] magnetic aristocrats who draw thier victims to them through sexual desire." p. 156

"'Vampirism' is synonymous with 'the power of evil' of sexual temptation and of control." p. 156

"The relationships are decadent, even depraved, and totally unrestrained." p. 156

". . .links the supernatural force of evil to earthly decadence." p. 156

"The creature's ability to exert control 'sexually, emotionally' and by 'the power of his mind.'" p. 156

". . . a master-slave relationship that exists on a solidly physical and emotional plane." p. 156

". . . the id unleashed, embracing and attacking both male and female with an indiscriminate, sexually evangelical fervor." p. 156

"The monsters must outrage innocents or semi-innocents, because it wouldn't mean so much if they wronged hardboiled people." p. 200

"The Men Who Made the Monsters" Paul M. Jensen

To be continued . . .

Next time: More comments from the author about Fisher's films, which equally could be applied to Russell's films.


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