Lair of the White Worm (1988 film)

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Summary

Loosely based on a Bram Stoker novel of the same name. A young archaeologist discovers a large and inexplicable skull on a neighboring farm, which he soon deduces belonged to the D'Ampton Worm, a mythical beast supposedly slain generations ago by the ancestor of the current Lord D'Ampton. The predatory Lady Sylvia Marsh soon takes an interest, hinting that the vicious D'Ampton Worm may still live.

Details

Promotional image from Lair of the White Worm...
  • Release Date: 1988
  • Country/Language: UK, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror, Fantasy, Comedy? (camp)
  • Runtime: X min
  • Starring: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg, Peter Capaldi
  • Director: Ken Russell
  • Writer: Bram Stoker (original story), Ken Russell (screenplay)
  • Producer/Production Co: White Lair
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • IMDb Page: (link)


Ratings

MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: R (Violence, Sexual Content, Violent Sexual Content, graphic Nudity)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • SS___ (Two Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; could be a very loose adaptation)

Allegedly based on the Bram Stoker novel, which I've never read, this film, amidst is weird and campy sexual content, has weird vampire-snake-people pagan cults, giant albino snake-dragon-worms, human sacrifices, cavern temples, and more. Because I've never read the (reportedly terrible) novel, it's hard for me to tell how much of Stoker's content was lifted by Lovecraft for stories like "The Shadow Over Innsmouth (fiction)", and how much of Lovecraft's fiction was lifted for the film, but when you have degenerate snake people named "Marsh" living in "D'Ampton" leading a cult to a monstrous dragon-worm-thing, it's hard not to point to some "Lovecraftian" DNA in this film. I find it more than a little reminiscent of similarly over-the-top sexualized and gory horror films based on Lovecraft stories made in roughly the same era, such as Dagon, From Beyond, and Re-Animator; fans of those films will probably enjoy this one for similar reasons....

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.

Reviews

Still from Lair of the White Worm...

Review Links:

  • Wes R. at Oh The Horror, (link) - "...If you can get past the slightly muddled motivations and the occasional camp, I think most who are willing will find themselves charmed by Russell’s film. Ancient pagan gods and the like are more the territory of H.P. Lovecraft than Bram Stoker, and with a more serious tone, this one could have been a scary, horror classic. As it stands, there’s nothing really wrong with the film that isn’t wrong with at least dozens of other mid-late 80s flicks...."
  • Roger Ebert at RogerEbertdotcom (2 stars) (link) - "Let this much be said for Ken Russell’s “The Lair of the White Worm”: It provides you with exactly what you would expect from a movie named “The Lair of the White Worm.” ... Russell was once, and no doubt will be again, considered an important director. This is the sort of exercise he could film with one hand tied behind his back, and it looks like that was indeed more or less his approach."
  • Richard Scheib at The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review (2/5 Stars) (link) - "As with most of Ken Russell’s works, any resemblance to the source material is of pure coincidence – although if you’re one of the unfortunates who have read the incomprehensible 1911 Bram Stoker original, there is little likelihood that there will be many crying out for less dramatic license. ... Ken Russell made much more entertaining films when he took himself more seriously and let his pretensions get the better of him."
  • Hyla Tracy II at That Galaxy Next Door, (link) - "...It's odd, and occasionally baffling, and a touch campy, and American horror fans with unbroadened horizons might not care for it if they don't have the stamina to stick around for the fun stuff, or take their sacred scary movies too seriously.... The Lair of the White Worm, despite a sluggish start, gets its cold blood warmed to a merry boil once [the villainess] Amanda Donohoe makes her appearance and gets the plot juice pumping...."


Synopsis

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

A young archaeologist discovers a large and inexplicable skull on a neighboring farm, which he soon deduces belonged to the D'Ampton Worm, a mythical beast supposedly slain generations ago by the ancestor of the current Lord D'Ampton. The predatory Lady Sylvia Marsh soon takes an interest, hinting that the vicious D'Ampton Worm may still live.


Notes

Comments, Trivia, Dedication

Associated Mythos Elements

  • Fiction: Bram Stoker, Lair of the White Worm
  • Race: Serpent People, Spawn of Yig
  • Creature: D'Ampton Worm
  • Deity: Dionin
  • Family: Marsh
  • Artefacts and Tomes: dragon skull, the Weird Sex Toy of Yig, sacrificial daggers, and various other tomes and oddities

Keeper Notes

See Also

Films with similar tone and content: