The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

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Lair of the White Worm

 

Adapted from the Bram Stoker novel of the same name, The Lair of the White Worm is directed by Ken Russell, who also brought us The Devils.
The film opens with a young Scottish archaeologist, Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi), who is excavating the ruins of a convent in the front garden of a Bed and Breakfast in Derbyshire, called Mercy Farm. Whilst unearthing some unusual Roman coins, Angus discovers a skull which he first presumes is a dinosaur, then discredits yet is unsure what creature it could be. The Trent sisters, Eve (Catherine Oxenberg) and Mary (Sammy Davis) run Mercy Farm and invite Angus to the Lord James D’Ampton’s (Hugh Grant) Ball, where he discovers the legend of the D’Ampton Worm, a man-eating giant snake/worm type creature that James’ ancestor slayed. Angus toys with the idea that the skull is that of the D’Ampton Worm, and is further fuelled by concerns when the skull is stolen from his room. Elsewhere in the village,  Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe), returns early to her stately home, Temple House, after being away for the Winter. Her arrival coincides with some strange goings on, including the discovery of the Trent’s late father’s watch in Stonerich Cavern, miles away from the location which their parents went missing. Who stole the skull and what happened to the Trent’s parents? And what links Lady Marsh to the sinister goings on?

The film plays host to a good range of actors, including Peter Capaldi of ‘The Thick of It’ and Amanda Donohoe as the sultry Lady Sylvia Marsh, who has most recently starred in Emmerdale of all things! I was surprised to see Hugh Grant in this film, after all this is a horror and Hugh is known for his Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’ type film work. To see him in something different was great, even though he played a comfortable role in the character of Lord James D’Ampton, it suited him well. The film has many funny moments and is not meant to be deadly serious, although there are parts which are so surreal and explicit you begin to wonder what kind of film you are watching. These flashes of nuns being battered and raped by Roman soldiers whilst a crucified Jesus figure is being suffocated and eaten by a white worm are so brilliant, I’d love to watch a full film with them in. Even though these moments are few and far between, they really add some pizzazz to the whole feel, and create an other worldliness, which is what the film is about. The story treasures it’s past, and you will discover what the D’Ampton Worm really is about.

The thing which impresses me is whilst this film is pretty small and close knit, it builds a mythology that has no loose ends, and makes a well rounded story. It may not be a groundbreaking film but I was so impressed i watched it twice in the space of 30 hours. Now thats not bad!
So I gotta give the White Worm
Rating: ★★★★½
Watch it, you will not be disappointed!

Bat
About Bat 6835 Articles
I love prosthetic effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: Silent Hill

4 Comments

  1. In my opinio, it must be good to see Hugh Grant in something GOOD 😉 . That’s a great review though, I’m very fond of Lair Of The White Worm, though I haven’t got off my arse and got it on DVD yet. Same goes with all of Russell’s wonderfully bonkers movies except my fav Altered States.

    • I’ve got The Devils but still not watched it yet. Not seen Altered States either. I must look into more of Ken Russell’s work. But yes, White Worm is a brilliant little film and Hugh Grant in something good was great. 😀

  2. One of the few Russell film i have not seen. Hugh Grant does, everyone now and then, do some odd films. Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon springs to mind, a great film too. Bat, excellent review by the way. Have you seen Russells Gothic with Julian Sands? Now that is an odd little film!

    • I’ve not seen that. White Worm is a film alright! It’s very charming and completely surreal in certain places. I thoroughly enjoyed it and whilst its not groundbreaking, its a very enjoyable film that I could watch over and over. Highly recommended! 🙂

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