Ken Russell's "Lair of the White Worm"; A Strange Surreal Trip Worth Taking

Image courtesy of Horrorpedia.com and Banned In Queensland blog
Directed by: Ken Russell
Category: Horror

Nothing about this film's VHS cover ever struck me as something worth checking out. Indeed, while I was a kid, and moving on into adulthood, I would see this cover on the shelf of my local VHS rental store, and even though I'd come across numerous articles in Fangoria, Gorezone and others, at the time it was released, none of it won me over. So I never gave it a shot, and honestly, never gave it a second thought......until recently. All it usually takes is someone to say something positive about something to get me interested, and up until recently, that never happened. But someone had posted an image in a facebook group with the caption "Right when this turns batshit crazy". That's all it took. I was sold. I immediately rented it at my local Blockbuster (yes, it still exists in my small ass town), and knowing it was a Ken Russell (The Devils, The Witches) film got us even more pumped.

Via Alik Widge's IMDB Synopsis:
Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint discovers an odd skull amid the ruins of a convent that he is excavating. Shortly thereafter, Lady Sylvia Marsh returns to Temple House, a nearby mansion, far earlier than expected. At a party in the village, Angus meets Lord James D'Ampton, who has just inherited his family's land right next to Temple House. Angus learns of the D'Ampton Worm, a huge dragon-snake that an earlier D'Ampton killed by cutting it in half. (There's a pretty catchy rock-folk song that tells the D'Ampton Worm legend.) As people begin disappearing and acting strangely over the next few days, the skull is stolen from Angus's room, and the watch of a missing person is found in a cavern that was the legendary home of the D'Ampton worm. Angus and James discover that there was an ancient cult that worshiped the worm as a god, and they theorize that the creature somehow survived its destruction, but it was trapped inside the cavern.

I can honestly say that our experience watching Lair of the White Worm was completely unlike
Atrocious U.S. DVD Cover
anything we were expecting. What I assumed would be a Gothic horror period piece, instead turned out to be a film set in the mid 80's (you'd swear it was much earlier though), and so fucking weird. When I say weird, I mean that in the best possible way. It's because of these weird moments that the film ultimately gets it's cult status that it so richly deserves. I have to admit, from the first moment I audibly yelled "WTF?!", I was hooked. And it only got better and better and more bizarre from there.

The opening credits boast that it's based on a story by Bram Stoker, but I can only assume it's very loosely based, because.....this film is nuts. For starters, there are a few trippy sequences that literally come out of nowhere, filled with such bizarre imagery that it will more than likely blow your mind. The cast, for the most part, is solid. A young Hugh Grant was a surprise, and I never really found Amanda Donohoe to be all that attractive or interesting. At least, not in roles like this where her character is supposed to be a seductress. But that's just me.

And then there's the story itself. Personally speaking, I couldn't tell you what the film is about, as it's just all over the fucking place. The synopsis above gives you a good idea, but really, it's a head-scratcher most of the time. It doesn't really matter though, because it never once gets dull or tired, something which I found rather surprising. But it's really the films ability to be so weird, yet highly charming and amusing that keeps you invested throughout. I'm not really sure what I'd classify this under, as it doesn't really fall under any one single genre, but be that as it may, it's one seriously fucked up good time.

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