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The Lair of the White Worm [Import]

Amanda Donohoe , Hugh Grant , Ken Russell    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
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Wittily updated from one of Dracula author Bram Stoker's lesser-known horror novels, The Lair of the White Worm is a camp classic that only Ken Russell could have delivered. It's got all the perversity one expects from the bombastic director of Tommy and Altered States: sensible plotting, intelligent dialogue laced with double entendre, graphic imagery with Boschian intensity, and a mischievous disregard for good taste and decorum. In other words, it's heretically hilarious, especially when skeptical Lord D'Ampton (fresh-faced Hugh Grant, in one of his earliest films) begins to suspect that seductive neighbor Sylvia (Amanda Donohoe, game for anything) is connected to the local legend of a monstrous serpent that feeds on sacrificial virgins. Evidence mounts with the help of a local archaeologist (Peter Capaldi) and two endangered sisters (Catherine Oxenberg, Sammi Davis), and Russell infuses Stoker's grisly plot with his inimitable brand of blasphemy, including a gouged eyeball, a venom-splattered crucifix, Roman soldiers raping nuns (in a delirious hallucination sequence), and some of the funniest one-liners since Young Frankenstein. Prudes beware; everyone else…enjoy! --Jeff Shannon

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM Aug. 1 2002
Format:DVD
Based on a novel by Bram Stoker. Stars Hugh Grant, and the lovely Amanda Donohoe.
It's pretty "campy" which I usually don't like, but I DO like this movie.
Hugh Grant plays James D'Ampton, who returns to his ancestral castle in the English countryside. James' distant ancestor was said to have slayed a dragon, the white worm, who supposedly dined on the flesh of young virgins.
A legend that James immediately dismisses, but when a local amateur archaeologist discovers the huge skull of a reptile and what looks like a site of worship on James' property. It has James rethinking his original dismissal. Especially when his virginal & virtuous girlfriend, Eve, disappears.
James and the young archaeologist, Angus, decide to investigate the the dark cave, rumored to be the lair of the great white worm.
Living in the same small locality is the beautiful vamp Lady Sylvia Marsh, a so-called "snake watcher" Really a devotee of the snake deity. She wants to get her hands on the reptilian skull and make some "offerings" to the white worm.
She really has everyone in the village entranced, but James is able to resist her. He's very suspicious about her activities. And acting like a snake charmer, attempts to stymie her plans.
Donohoe is excellent as the sultry and dangerous Lady Sylvia . Her costumes, make-up and unique cars! are fabulous, lots of fun. :-)
The film contains some dream sequences involving extreme images of followers of the white worm (who worship the snake deity) in some kind of shocking ecstatic frenzy together with some nuns, and an image of Jesus. Filled with blood, nudity, suggestive activity & some pretty big phallic shaped objects! :-).. I wasn't offended by this, but some overly-prudish people might be.
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By kitten
Format:DVD
can you imagine pitching this film?...
'guys! i read this bram stoker story and i think it could make a great movie... hear me out. there's this giant (really really really phallic) white, snake god that likes to eat virgin, human, women... but we'll also have a half snake, half human, pseudo vampire villian-ess ... and then we'll have cute, virginal (biblically referenced) blonde, sisters.... there's gonna be acid-like dream sequences with weird, violent, sexual situations.... wait! where are you guys going? come back.... i haven't told you the best part yet!!....'
well, however he managed to get it going... ken russell scored (again) with this movie. the tone of the whole film (not totally tongue-in-cheek, but really campy.) is over-all quite funny; there's disturbing, over-the-top, horrific moments in the film when you're not sure if you should say 'this is SO wrong!' or you should burst out laughing.... trust your gut - laugh.
in the end, if anything is truly unusual about the film its the presence of hugh grant.... and although he gives a perfect performance, what the heck is hugh grant doing in such a random, bizarre movie?!?! but he fits... and he pulls it off.
so - watch lair of the white worm if you dare?....
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4.0 out of 5 stars Freudian field day April 3 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Before you put Ken Russell's "Lair Of The White Worm" in the player, you might want to shoo out any children, nervous adults or members of the clergy who may be hanging about your media room. Russell nearly outdoes himself (and that's saying a lot!) with this 1988 horror-thriller-black comedy. With tongue planted firmly in cheek (and snake planted firmly in lair), Russell mixes a modern-day "Saint George vs the dragon" story with elements of classic vampire films. Amanda Donohue, in an a fearless, camped-up performance, makes for a very sexy, slinky and naughty serpentine siren (It's a long way from "lizard's lair" to "L.A. Law", baby!). Peter Capaldi (the mermaid's bumbling suitor in "Local Hero") plays it straight as a bagpipe-wielding archeologist, and a pre-Hollywoodized Hugh Grant portrays a manor-born uppercrust type (there's a stretch) who may or may not be a direct descendent of a real "wormslayer". As with most Ken Russell offerings, there is much here to offend the uptight and/or pious, but much to amuse those who revel in the off-beat.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, camp and genuinely scary March 14 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This is not a combination one finds that often, but in the masterful hands of Ken Russell that is how this film emerges. More than anything else, the film is buoyed by its hilarious dialogue, with Amanda Donahue delivering the most outrageous puns and one-liners. Example: "Do you have any children?" "Only when there aren't any men around."
The special effects are cheesy to the n-th degree, in the same category as Tim Burton's in Beetlejuice and with much the same effect.Russell camps it up to just below the point where it might have become tedious.
Donahue steals the show with her performance, but Hugh Grant provides a great counter, in the days when one still said: "Hugh who?" The only disappointment is Sammi Davis, who really cannot act her way out of a paper bag. I shall never understand why Russell used her so often (she also ruined the otherwise superb "The Rainbow").
In the final analysis the film is difficult to recommend to anybody who is not totally whacky and enjoys totally whacky films. Some of the horror sequences are genuinely horrific, but the comic counterfoil is as arresting, making the film a hybrid the likes of which I have never experienced.
Final note: after seeing the film on a festival, I was hitching home and given a lift by a lady who had also just seen it and reminded me a little too much of Amanda Donahue's character. Now that was scary!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic horror movie
This is a vampire movie that differs from the other traditional vampire movies. It's about a female vampire, played well by the English actress, Amanda Donohoe, who is the high... Read more
Published 3 months ago by L. F. Sweeney
1.0 out of 5 stars Comically bad
In case you're wondering, "The Lair of the White Worm" has pretty much nothing to do with the Bram Stoker novel. They both have giant white snakes, and that's it. Read more
Published on Aug. 25 2011 by E. A Solinas
3.0 out of 5 stars Campy as hell
but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This is typical Russell; weird non-fitting dreams, and definietly not enough violence, horror or sex when, here, it wouldn't be superfluous,... Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by nom-de-nick
4.0 out of 5 stars Bite me!
Yes, it's over-the-top! Yes, it's gorey and heretical but this only adds to the movie's drawing power. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2004 by Michael Gannon
5.0 out of 5 stars Surreal kink
I found this movie to be FUN to watch, several times. It has a number of actors who stared in this film before they became big names in America. Read more
Published on April 8 2002 by "jbyrd16"
5.0 out of 5 stars Off beat Cult film!!!
Up front, NOT everyone will like this film. It's a Ken Russell film, after all. That said, if you are scared of snakes, have a religious bent or hate picked earthworms in aspec,... Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2002 by Deborah MacGillivray
5.0 out of 5 stars Phallic Symbols Abound
As can be judged by the title this movie is grounded in sexual metaphor. Not that one needs to be reminded when viewing a Ken Russell film that the content is apt to have strong... Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2001 by M. James
3.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a satire!
Ken Russell does it again, flourishing as a genius of mondo-bizarro cinema! Here he engages us in a game of sorts, pulling us into the action as it writhes around on the screen... Read more
Published on May 12 2001 by "daveyboy1974"
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate fun and horror
I love this film, I love this film, I love this film! Ken Russell's campy sense of humour flourishes in this story, written by Stoker in the latter stages of an obscure brain... Read more
Published on April 16 2001 by Barbara Harman
4.0 out of 5 stars Can we stop on the way for a bite?
Some times legend is based on more than facts. And what you don't know may bite you.
I have to admit I did not read the book. Read more
Published on April 11 2001 by bernie
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