The Lair of the White Worm (1987) – Ken Russell

Ken Russell’s cheeky Brit horror The Lair of the White Worm is the next title to bite into as I continue my time with the vampire section of DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies book by director John Landis.

Based loosely on the story by Bram Stoker, the film features Hugh Grant, Amanda Donohoe, Peter Capaldi (!) and Catherine Oxenberg.

Capaldi is Angus Flint, a Scot archaeologist that has discovered a strange skull amongst a uncovered Roman ruin. At the same time, the odd and beguiling Lady Sylvia Marsh (Donohoe) takes up residence at nearby Temple House, and strange events begin to unravel in the village, including a number of deaths.

Lord James D’Ampton (Grant) who lives nearby strikes up a but of a friendship with flint over the discovery, and it revealed that his own family has history with the creature that the skull may have come from.

Marsh and her followers (when we see one) worship as part of a cult that praised the worm-dragon-snake as a god. Of course there has to be a bit of a vampire thing going on for it to be in the vampire section of the book… It seems that Marsh, and others, have fangs, feed, and spread a bit of a vampire like plague…


As history rears its head, will D’Ampton and Flint be able to face off against the cult, and a real white worm? And will their lady loves, Eve (Oxenberg) and Mary (Sammi Davis) respectively, survive the horrors that will beset them and the village.

There is some suggestive and cheeky humor and innuendo throughout, and while the cast doesn’t quite wink at the audience, but they get awfully close.

All of the costumes that Donohoe finds herself, including sunglasses, are fairly suggestive of snakes, there are cars, set designs, any number of things that suggest the worm, or something a little more phallic…

It has some typical Russell bizarre visions and dreams, some iffy monster effects, but is delightful fun nonetheless. Saying that, of course, I realize that it won’t be everyone’s cuppa, but I rather enjoyed it. It was silly, sexy, odd, and a good ride.

It doesn’t really have much to do with vampires, but for when Marsh bites someone, they too become infected and have large can’t-close-your-mouth fangs, but that’s the only real nod to vampires this film has.

For all that, it’s still a fun movie, and whether it showed up in the vampire section, or one of the later sections of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies, I was quite happy to watch this one.

So pick up a copy today and find something bloody, macabre, and fun to watch.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s