Lair of the White Worm (1988)
, written, produced and directed by Ken Russell.
This R-rated horror spoof is meant to be funny, exciting, sexy and gross. It does all that if you can get your mind into the correct silliness space. The humor and style are not very subtle but that's Ken Russell: take a good idea and beat it senseless. I love the guy.
Audience interest might have been greater if more people understood that in old English "worm" is "dragon". The clever invention is a vampire cult with snakes instead of bats, dating back to Roman times, with a reincarnated modern priestess who serves her subterranean god.
Special thanks to the serpent-like Amanda Donohoe who strips naked more than once, tongues a phallic relic and wears a carved stone strap-on for special ceremonial occasions. Keeping your seductive sense of humor through all that must take some doing.
Also with young Hugh Grant and Peter Capaldi. Playing sisters are not-quite-a-princess Catherine Oxenberg and Sammi Davis, last seen in Mona Lisa (1986)
and Hope and Glory (1987)
Part of the grossness are some hallucinogenic previous-lives visions of bloody death by those stone strap-ons. The sexual violence is pretty bad here, but flashes by quickly. Still, my wife won't watch the film because of these bits.
We also learn what the kilted Scotsman keeps in that hairy thing between his legs.
Inspired by the actual folklore of the Lambton Worm
. The song lyrics shown in the article are used in the film. That exotic cave location is Thor's Cavern
Adapted from a book of the same title by Bram Stoker. I read it years ago and remember thinking it was rubbish, and nothing like the film.
1980s synth score.
Available on Blu-ray with two commentary tracks:
- The director's commentary is brought forward from the DVD. He's funny and perhaps affecting drunkenness. Some of his stories are tall tales. The rest: I can't always tell.
- A later excited conversation with Russell's last wife. Lots of stories about Ken and his pictures.