The Lair of the White Worm - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Lair of the White Worm Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2017
True to form, Russell handles the craziest material the best (those terrifying dreams/flashbacks are something else) but that only occupies a small portion of the running time. The rest of the movie is a dull attempt at horror.
June 16, 2017
Pretty dreadful and generally uninteresting film (despite the presence of Catherine Oxenberg) about a woman who worships a white worm pagan god and lures victims to it to feed on. Attempts to be overly bizarre at times are more of a turn off than anything.
February 24, 2017
It is not uncommon that an author to become so famous for one particular work that it eclipses the fact their oeuvre is considerably more extensive. One example is one of the foremost Masters of Horror in the literary world, Bram Stoker. Upon mentioning his name, the first title that will come to the lips of almost everyone in the room when the 'Dracula.' Written in 1897 it has been a play in a consistent contender in hall films 1933 right up to current times. Very few people are aware that Mr. Stoker's last novel, 'The Lair of the White Worm', was made into a movie 1988. Has recently been released on Blu-ray and because of a particular member of the cast the movie may have increased interest to a lot of people particularly in the science fiction community. The principal cast includes people some notoriety during the period of the film's production, Hugh Amanda Donohoe, Grant, and Catherine Oxenberg but the one of particular interest was based, Peter Capaldi.Currently, this talented actor is best known for assuming the most recent incarnation of the iconic role of 'The Doctor' in the BBC's longest-running series, 'Doctor Who.' For cinephiles, the main reason for increased interest is that the filmmaker serving as the director and screenwriter Kurt Russell, one of the most controversial and flamboyant auteur's career spanned several decades. His primary trademark style included exaggerated gratuitous sex and nudity, and off-color sense of humor and a particular penchant for ridiculing religion, particularly the Roman Catholic Church. Although most of his films are regarded as exceptionally camp, Mr. Russell has tried his hand at some more serious themes such as 'Altered States.' Before beginning the consideration of the stone in earnest, it is worth noting that this is considered one of Mr. Russell's less successful, tongue-in-cheek horror films.

Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) is a Scottish archaeologist who is currently investigating a site somewhat close to home, Derbyshire in the East Midlands of England. During his scholarly work there Flint has taken up residence in a quaint bed-and-breakfast owned by a pair of sisters Mary (Sammi Davis) and Eve Trent (Catherine Oxenberg). Among the things that Flint found one item, in particular, sparked his academic curiosity, the skull of a rather large snake. He believes that it may be involved in the local legend of the d'Ampton 'worm.' According to legend, this mythological creature slain in Stonerich Cavern by John d'Ampton, the Lord of the Manor. His descendant, James d'Ampton (Hugh Grant), still resides in the ancestral home. The Manor is not the only ancient stately residence in the area. The nearby Temple House is impressive structure is currently home to the beautiful and seductive Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe). Not much is known about this woman usually, results in the operational of scary stories and suspicions that are a pastime in such small and isolated communities.

The mystery deepens as Flint discovers ancient Roman coins along with the reptilian skull, providing some framework that the ancient evil rights described in the stories might have occurred. The coins also appear to have an effect on Lady Marsh inducing very bizarre sexual hallucinatory fantasies. There is a supernatural conflict being force in this isolated region as long as anyone can remember. Lady Marsh comes from a long line of conjurors of evil. During the time of the Roman Empire, the infamous worm was summoned to confer supernatural power upon the legions to ensure the success as they raped and pillaged the enemies. Themes that concentrate on Bacchanalian excess are ideal for the directorial style of Mr. Russell, all conducive to present such hedonistic revelry into an exceptionally campy demonstration dark humor. As any fan of the works of Ken Russell will confirm when you set about to experience one of his movies, it is best to leave all sensibilities, and sense of traditional morality are aside. Mr. Russell eschews half measures only knowing how to drive headlong into overabundance. For example, he took the mundane phrase of "sex, drugs and rocked roll" and pushed it to a surrealistic level in the movie 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls', which ironically was written by the master film critics, Roger Ebert. While this movie is not as over-the-top as that example, but then again very few things are. One thing about this film is that Kurt Russell delivers on the promise made by the title. There is indeed a worm that is white and unspeakable things happen to those victims all injuries lair. Many derogatory things have been said about Mr. Russell, but he is not known for not delivering what he promised.

Throughout the ages mythology concerning the worm has changed as it was passed down through the generations. It is now generally believed that the Lord of the Manor was responsible for by bridging a dragon that resided in a nearby cave. As is commonly found in ancient stories, the antagonist is belittled by derogatory terminology; hence a vicious Dragon becomes a worm. The family reputation is at stake all those who have inherited the title of Lord of the Manor have preferred to retain 'Dragonslayer,' as the family's heritage. Russell is not one to only extend exposition and in keeping with this after a few establishing scenes of the archaeologist at work and short order holding a giant, reptilian skull, once the main characters introduced it is not long until the revealing its true nature. The hyper- sexualized Lady Marsh this soon revealed to be an immortal sorceress, a priestess to the ancient snake god, Dion, afforded Mr. Russell an opportunity for one of his favorite plot contrivances in a film, scantily attired beautiful women. She maintains the life of the vast snake in the cavernous tunnels that connect the side of the day, Temple House with Stonerich Cavern. Naturally, this ancient evil deity requires regular human sacrifices to retain its vitality. To (or "intending to") ensuring that there were no happy endings, another trademark of the current Russell film, there is a vampiric nature to the snake that is passed down to its caretaker to imbue it with immortality.

Many hard-core fans of the horror genre I had already possessed the DVD as part of my collection as well as having it in streaming video format. I was most intrigued when I received the notification that I would receive a preview copy of the Blu-ray release. In the past, I have found that movies that rely heavily on dimly lit scenes transferred to high-definition in a most beneficial fashion. If the remastering is done correctly, as it was here, the amount of detail that is brought out of the original 35mm Panavision film stock, provided ample detail that went unnoticed in previous, low-resolution formats. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is robust offering a broad spectrum audio range quite expansive in comparison to the Dolby Digital Stereo presented in the previous releases. There is also an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 included. This his edition is part of the on 'Collector's Series' from Lionsgate.
February 8, 2017
What a gonzo and wacky movie, but I guess that should be expected from Russell. Some great imagery and hypnotic scenes. Cool mythos too.
February 7, 2017
I had a co-worker recommend this to me about 8 years ago, and I never got around to seeing it until now. It's now armed with this knowledge I can safely say my life was nowhere near as complete as it is now. Lair of the White Worm is as cheesy as it is sleazy, but in the best way possible. Plus it comes with the bonus of seeing pre-fame Hugh Grant and Peter Capaldi. This film won't be for everyone, but will worm it's way into the hearts of those that love cult classics.
½ October 9, 2016
You have Hugh Grant as the poshest most ridiculously hyper british he's ever been, Peter Capaldi in full Scottish garb playing bagpipes and throwing grenades, a full body painted blue snake woman with a huge strap on who seduces teenage virgins with board games in lingerie, psychedelic flashbacks to Jesus suffering on the cross in front of roman soldiers violently raping nuns dressed in white, a kooky policeman with a lazy eye and 4 inch snake fangs, ridiculous lore that of course is all true... As a cult second-rate movie, Lair of the White Worm is everything you'd hope-full of camp and just creepy enough. As a Ken Russell movie, it's unfortunately disappointingly shallow.
½ March 21, 2016
Not sure quite what to make of this 80's horror comedy. It's campy, trippy, tacky and very weird and Amanda Donohoe is incredibly hot as the vampire queen, but it just never fully comes together in any way. Watch for the weirdness factor, Donohoe.s alternately sexy and terrifying vampire and the sight of a very young Hugh Grant and current Dr Who Peter Capaldi looking like he's twelve.
½ October 7, 2015
The most awkwardly awesome film ever. Feels like a crazy psychedelic trip, if you ask me. It's an exotic sensual monster film which barely makes any sense. It's Hugh Grant long before he was famous in the US and his accent is barely noticeable. It's the current Doctor Who, 20+ years long before he would even dream of that role, and at that time, they were on doctor number 7, he's 12 after the 12 year hiatus from 89-01.

A humanoid snake creature is biting people and inducing a poison which gives a sense of temporary death or unconsciousness and then they revive as a sort of snake vampire, but they can be killed without anything special. It's a crazy film. It's a fun film. Your friends have probably never seen or heard of it. It's not necessarily a very good film, but a cult film in its own right.
September 26, 2015
Funny Ken Russell goes horror flick with his usual crazy imaging and a script with lots of innuendo. But the end seems very abrupt and themes that story develops all through the movie go nowhere. It's like they ran out of money and just stopped the film in mid-shooting.
May 16, 2015
A film that only Ken Russell could have gotten away with as it's so campy, over-the-top, and silly, yet it's still oddly worthy of a look, which for a film staring Hugh Grant is really quite rare. The plot works as well as an inflatable pin cushion and is best just letting it go in one ear and out the next, the characters are have little to no depth, while on the other hand the performance from Amanda Donohoe is worthy of a watch alone as she largely semi-nakedly vamps the movie up to eleven. For a horror film this isn't frightening in the slightest, and I doubt it was ever really made with the sole intention to scare, rather to entertain. This really isn't a must watch at all, but there is some fun to be had here if you can catch it.
April 6, 2015
A bit goofy, but I think it was supposed to be. Hhmmm, I really don't know how to rate this because I'm not sure I actually "get it" for once. Give it a shot.
½ March 22, 2015
This film really struggles to make an ounce of sense and it really feels (like the book it is based on) like stuff was haphazardly cut out. Gets a half star for having a scene with Peter Capaldi battling a snake-vampire-policeman while wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes.
February 25, 2015
An okay premise that gets a bit bogged down by the slow middle and an unsatisfying, anticlimactic ending. The performances are good and there are some neat visuals, but it's kind of a miss.
January 14, 2015
Bang goes another early night.

A Scottish archeologist discovers a strange fossil that appears to be from the Roman time period when they resided in the area of the excavation. Meanwhile, a female strange neighbor that resides in an eccentric house down the street that everyone believes is haunted arrives in town. Shortly after her arrival, the fossil turns up missing and so do people in the area. The archeologist and a group of his friends will hunt down the artifact, starting with the strange woman's house.

"Perhaps we should phone the hospital."
"No. No. No. No. They'd only amputate."

Ken Russell, director of Gothic, Tommy, Dog Boys, Treasure Island, Mindbender, Whore, Prisoner of Honor, The Rainbow, The Devils, and Billion Dollar Brain, delivers The Lair of the White Worm. The storyline for this picture is very average and reminded me of similar pictures from this era like The Howling or Serpent and the Rainbow. The acting was fun but nothing special. The cast includes Hugh Grant, Amanda Donohoe, Catherine Oxenberg, Gina McKee, and Sammi Davis.

"Here's to the first swallow!"

I had remembered seeing this as a kid and didn't remember it being too good, but I grabbed it off Netflix when I was in the mood for a horror film. This was below average as the special effects and make-up were disappointing; however, the characters were fun and worthwhile. Overall, I do recommend seeing this if you're a fan of the genre but I wouldn't go too out of my way to see this.

"I think we probably have another reptile on the premises."

Grade: C-
January 6, 2015
The Lair of the White Worm is another infamous Ken Russell film, a man whose directorial efforts yielded many of cinema's most insane oddities. This is one of them, but I didn't feel particularly interested in the movie as a whole. It lost me at many points, not the least of which is due to the thickness of the accents by most of the actors. You get used to it after a while, but still, a lot of important details were probably lost in the mix. The film was also based upon a Bram Stoker novel, which the marketing fully embraces, of course. Incredibly memorable visuals mixed with a less than stellar story about snake people, which is this movie in a nutshell. It's also noted as an early film for Hugh Grant.
January 5, 2015
I just read ken russels autobiography and this is one of his more well known ones, sadly its not that good, i think it had a good set up/premise despite it being pretty fantastical, they take it pretty seriously for the most part, but then russell gets caught up throwing in these random sex/violence "visions" that aren't necessary, and then where the story ends up going is just stupid, the performances are good ill give it that, and donohoe is pretty damn sexy, but overall a disappointment
½ January 3, 2015
80's horror is the best (i.e., worst)!
December 23, 2014
Caught this on Netflix last Saturday. Goofy and campy. A future Dr. Who appears in this movie.
December 13, 2014
Adolescent B-film production. Gore, titties, and synth-music.
November 16, 2014
Russell takes one of Bram Stoker's weakest novels and transforms it into delirious, psychedelic pulp ... as he tends to do. It's a massive improvement on the source material and a lot of fun. Fans of Russell's 1980s material should love it.
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