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The Fall of the Louse of Usher: A Gothic Tale for the 21st Century (2002)

Rock star Roddy Usher's wife is murdered and Rod is sent to a lunatic asylum in this gothic-comedy-horror-musical.


Ken Russell


Ken Russell

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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Johnston James Johnston ... Roderick Usher / Gory the Gorilla
Lisi Tribble ... Madeline Usher / Masked Mary / Mummy / Dr. Wells (as Elize Russell)
Marie Findley Marie Findley ... Nurse ABC Smith / Dream Woman
Ken Russell ... Dr. Calahari
Lesley Nunnerley Lesley Nunnerley ... Berenice (as Lesley Nunnerly)
Emma Millions Emma Millions ... Annabelle Lee
Pete Mastin Pete Mastin ... Ernest Valdemar (as Peter Mastin)
Sandra Scott Sandra Scott ... Beulah Von Birmingham
Barry Lowe Barry Lowe ... Dr. Glynn / Gory the Gorilla
Alex Russell Alex Russell ... Igor / Gory the Gorilla
Roger Wilkes Roger Wilkes ... Gory the Gorilla
Claire Cannaway Claire Cannaway ... Young Lenore Usher
Sam Kitcher Sam Kitcher ... Young Allan Usher
Suki Uruma Suki Uruma ... Screw
Mediaeval Baebes Mediaeval Baebes ... Unholy Revellers (as Medieval Babes)


When rock star Roddy Usher's wife is murdered, he's sent to the county lunatic asylum, where the therapy is far more insane than the inmates. An amalgam of several Edgar Allan Poe stories, and a mixture of comedy, horror and musical genres. Written by theo

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Release Date:

3 February 2002 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Shot on camcorder in director Ken Russell's garage/studio, with a cast made up of friends and neighbors. See more »


Version of La chute de la maison Usher (1928) See more »


Fire in the Rose
Music by James Johnston
Words by Lisi Tribble (as Elize Tribble)
See more »

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User Reviews

A triumph for lunatics everywhere!
29 August 2003 | by cjlinesSee all my reviews

It's funny how in art, you often see a cycle in which the Masters begin borrowing techniques from the very students they influenced, in turn creating whole new heights for the rest to aspire to. It could be argued that Ken Russell single-handedly pioneered the art of stylised psychosexual horror delirium and he's back to show that no one can do it better. It's a very modernised and flashy approach he uses here though, cribbed from his contemporaries and improved upon greatly. Shot on digital video and employing breakneck editing in the style of Greg Dark or Richard Kern, Russell's latest epic "The Fall of The Louse of Usher" is a whole new plateau of erotic mania for the others to aspire to. I'm not sure Edgar Allen Poe would be fully enjoying it, however...

Plotwise, it concerns Gothic rock star Roddy Usher (played by Gallon Drunk's James Johnson) who, upon being accused of murdering his wife, Sweet Annabelle Lee, is committed to an insane asylum. Under the care of the maniacal Dr Calahari (Russell himself, with a terrible fake German accent, chewing up the scenery admirably here) and the beautiful Nurse ABC Smith (Tulip Junkie), Roddy is plunged headlong into a roller-coaster ride of nightmare imagery and murder as the lines between reality and insanity blur into one great big psychedelic smudge. Somewhere at the heart of it all is a murder mystery (who killed Sweet Annabelle Lee?) and, amazingly, this is solved by the end. But the mystery itself is merely secondary to all the breathtakingly strange set pieces, bogglingly obscure Poe references and increasingly unpredictable twists in the tale.

Russell's eye for the bizarre and beautiful hasn't faded with age and, despite its low budget, "Louse" looks sumptuous and outlandisht. The costumes and production design are really quite remarkable, making best possible use out of the most peculiar props he could lay his hands on. Watch out for the tea cosy hat, the blow-up dinosaur dolls, the pharoah mask, the Playstation controller, the bouncy castle and, best of all, the talking 'Big Mouth Billy Bass' ornament (here playing the Egyptian God Osiris) if you don't believe me. On top of the visual weirdness, we're also treated to a series of catchy Gothic rock songs, courtesy of Johnson, that wind up as a cross between Sex Gang Children, Nick Cave and something you'd see at the end of a "Hale and Pace" episode. Astonishingly, this actually works!

All in all, "Louse" isn't for everybody and if you didn't like Russell before, you're unlikely to appreciate him any more after enduring 90 minutes of this feverish plunge into the depths of his twisted mind. However, if you've a taste for genuinely weird cinema or fancy a colourful, entertaining change of pace from the dreary toss that passes for alternative film-making these days, I'd highly recommend it. For my mileage, it's just another shining jewel in his crown that reaffirms Russell as being the greatest imagination working in cinema today. I only have two questions: When can I buy the soundtrack? And where is Ken Russell's knighthood already? 9 out of 10.

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