Picture
     The film world lost one of it's true originals yesterday with the death of director Ken Russell. A true pioneer in extreme visuals and exaggerated, surreal storytelling, Russell will never be forgotten. He would often make films whose visual mastery was complimented by plots with smooth, rounded edges that allowed for aspects of the storytelling that you did not like to merely be ignored. As a result, I don't think that he ever made a film that was not open to at least a little bit of interpretation. Miss something plot-wise that you think might prove to be important? Forget it. Care that Oliver Reed is one of the leads in a musical despite the fact that he can't sing AT ALL? Forget it. Get arguably the greatest screenwriter in the history of the medium (Paddy Chayefsky) to write you a script and then tear out pages like they're napkins out of a dispenser at a burger joint? Forget it. His films were all much more about the experience than the details.
     Speaking of the experience. I'd like to end this with Ken Russell's most lasting legacy in my personal time with him. I was ten years old when I saw Russell's wonderful, surreal horror/comedy "Lair of the White Worm". In it, Amanda Donohoe plays a vampiric seductress and follower of a snake-like god/monster/demon. It was the experience of watching her in this film that, in my best estimation, taught me to be frightened of beautiful women. this is something that most ten-year-old boys are just beginning to realize is something they are going to have to struggle with, however, Amanda Donohoe was the ultimate manifestation of this for me. To picture a woman so esthetically pleasing (armpit hair aside) being so cold, calculating and literally inhuman was a crash course in unattainability that messed me up and messed me up bad. This was scarier than any horror film that I can possibly imagine. This woman was more attractive than any woman I had ever seen and she lived for the sole purpose of out-witting slaying and orally castrating male simpletons. She wanted what you had and there was absolutely no way that she was not going to get it. Even Hugh Grant himself barely puts up a fight and he slays ladies libidos on an hourly basis.  
     I've never fully gotten the images of Amanda Donohoe in this film out of my head. Congratulations, Mr. Russell, you've screwed me up for life. 

I'm sure that wherever you are, you're proud of yourself.