Illustration for article titled R.I.P. Ken Russell, Director of emAltered States/em and emTommy/em

Iconoclast filmmaker and general shit stirring director Ken Russell has died. You may know him best for such films as Tommy, Altered States, The Devils and The Lair of the White Worm. If you've made it through his movies without getting a single personal button pushed, we tip our hat to you — because making people stand up and notice his work was what Russell did best.

The outrageous British director was best known for testing the limits of the audience and not giving fuck-all what the critics or censors thought (which I first learned after watching a parade of crazed nuns rape a giant Jesus statue in The Devils). But his work also challenged the boundaries of what we were used to in film on every level — be it religious imagery, violence, or what the public deemed a rock opera should look like. Russell put it best himself in an interview with NPR back in 1991, "My films assault people, but that's because the images are potent. I don't have any gratuitous scenes in my films. They're actually integral to the plot."

Russell is best known around io9 for Ann-Margret's baked-beaned bath in Tommy. And his movie Altered States, about a scientist who runs tests on himself in isolation chambers under the influence of ketamine and other mind-bending drugs. The end results were pretty horrific and quite cutting edge for the 1980s.


The director was 84 when he passed, and it is being reported that he passed away in his sleep. And we'll forever remember him by these nightmare-inducing scenes he committed to film.

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