Phallic Frenzy

Phallic Frenzy
Phallic Frenzy

Phallic Frenzy

Ken Russell and His Films
By Joseph Lanza


384 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: EPUB, PDF, Mobipocket

EPUB, $18.99 (US $18.99) (CA $25.99)

ISBN 9781569764824

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Aug 2007)


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Chronicling the bizarre life of a maverick filmmaker
Ken Russell has made some of the most daring, disturbing, and beautifully photographed films of all time. Drawing from a wealth of historic and literary references, Russell’s subjects are astounding: deranged Ursuline nuns in a 17th-century French province, the inner demons of Mary Shelley and Lord Byron, the sexual angst of Tchaikovsky, the emotionally drained life of Rudolph Valentino, the messianism of a pinball wizard, the fury of lesbian vampires, the introspections of prostitutes. Russell’s movies offer not just brazen sensationalism but food for thought; they horrify yet inspire. And through it all, Russell maintains a simultaneously impish and intellectual sense of humor. The first full biography of the director, Phallic Frenzy is far from a dry, film-by-film analysis. It shows how Russell’s real life has often been as engaging and vibrant as his film scenarios. Here you’ll learn how Alan Bates and Oliver Reed compared their penis sizes for the nude wrestling scene in Women in Love; how Russell disfigured Paddy Chayevsky’s script for Altered States by having the actors holler out the lines as fast as possible, accompanied by spewed food and streams of spittle; and how Russell was slated to direct Evita, starring Liza Minnelli, and the “creative differences” that ensued. A madcap tale full of wild ideas, surreal situations, and a cavalcade of colorful personalities, Phallic Frenzy is as thrilling a ride as any Ken Russell film.


"Joseph Lanza knows more about my life than I do!" —Ken Russell

"A lively and explicit biography." —

"A solid, long-overdue reconsideration of director Ken Russell's horrific surrealism." —PLAY

"It makes for a thrilling read—it vibrates, shimmies, pounds down the pavement of every page." —Alternative Film Guide

"The core features are discussed in exhaustive detail, blending close analysis with lively anecdote . . . [Lanza] has delved extensively into the more colorful aspects of his subject's life." —Book Review Digest

"Everything you ever wanted to know—and more—about the wild child of Cinema Britannia." —Financial Times

Author Biography

Joseph Lanza is the author of numerous books, including Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening and Other Moodsong; Fragile Geometry; Russ Columbo and the Crooner Mystique; and Vanilla Pop: Sweet Sounds from Frankie Avalon to ABBA. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.