02nd Mar2018

‘The Lair of the White Worm’ Blu-ray Review (Vestron Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Peter Capaldi, Hugh Grant, Amanda Donohoe, Catherine Oxenberg, Sammi Davis, Stratford Johns, Paul Brooke, Imogen Claire, Chris Pitt, Gina McKee | Written and Directed by Ken Russell


Some of the most memorable cult horror films come from eccentrics of the genre. Ken Russell was a director who left his unforgettable mark on film history, with the likes of Tommy and The Devils. In The Lair of the White Worm he creates a truly cult experience that has stayed a truly unique piece of horror entertainment.

When Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) a Scottish archaeologist discovers a strange skull on the site of an old convent, it seems he may have discovered the remains of the d’Ampton Worm. A legendary snake-like creature killed by local landowner James D’Amton’s (Hugh Grant) ancestor, it soon vanishes. With villagers disappearing it appears that an ancient evil has been awoken once again.

Watching The Lair of the White Worm now, it is interesting to see Peter Capaldi and Hugh Grant in a movie like this. My first experience of the film was on late night television, where I was too young to fully understand what I was seeing. It left a mark on my memories though, and on numerous revisits the film just got better.

Now watching it on Blu-ray for review, it is interesting just how well it has aged. While Grant and Capaldi are instantly noticed, they are not the star of the film though, that would be Amanda Donohoe as the snake-like vampire who stalks the villagers. Playing the seductress very well, even Donohoe’s movements are snake-like, and she is most definitely the character you remember from the film.

While The Lair of the White Worm may stand in the shadows of The Devils, it does at times have a similar feel, sharing some of the themes. In the flashbacks to the convent attack for example, the violence and abuse on show is quite shocking. I do get the feeling for TV some of the scenes may have been cut down slightly, which would not be surprising. Here they feel like they are shown in their uncut glory.

The Lair of the White Worm is based on a short story by Bram Stoker, but it was Ken Russell who adapted it for the movie, and you can tell. There is a certain feel to Ken Russell movies, and the Lair of the White Worm has that eccentric feel to it that you come to expect from Russell. If you’re a fan of his work and have not seen this, then that needs to be fixed now.

Looking at the special features, there are two commentary tracks, one featuring Ken Russell himself, the other features Lisi Russell and film historian Matthew Melia, both are interesting to listen to. There are also more features, including “Mary, Mary” an interview with Sammi Davis who shares stories of how fun filming was. For fans of The Lair of the White Worm, this is a good collection of features to remind us what a strange but fun movie it is.

The Lair of the White Worm is one of those movies I’ll always revisit, because it is one of those glorious little British horror films that show off our eccentricities so well. If you’ve never seen Peter Capaldi snake charming with bagpipes while wearing a kilt, then it is time you watched The Lair of the White Worm and fixed that. That is something you must see at least once in your life.

***** 5/5

The Lair of the White Worm is available in the UK on Vestron Video Collector’s Series Blu-Ray now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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