Ahhhh, Ken Russell. OTT, extravagant and bloody fantastic. We love his work – it’s always bold, absurd and something to behold. The Lair Of The White Worm is, of course, jolly good fun and features a glorious Amanda Donohoe as Lady Sylvia Marsh – a slinky snake obsessive who is actually an immortal priestess to the snake God Dionin. In the Peak District, UK. A young Hugh Grant (actually 28 years old in the film, but he looks 19) also plays a prominent role, all floppy haired and cheesy grinned. A young Peter Capaldi pops up too as an archaeology student. It’s completely bonkers and FABULOUS.
Russell’s film is based – very loosely – on Bram Stoker’s short story of the same name; we’re not 100 per cent sure, but we’d take a guess that Stoker’s version didn’t have a Lady Sylvia wearing a giant, pointed dildo whilst creeping up on Catherine Oxenberg in its text. There’s also some trippy dream sequences portraying Christ’s crucifixion and the giant white worm curling around him all bloody mouthed and gnashers chomping, whilst Roman soldiers and bare breasted nuns…well, Ken isn’t subtle.
The dialogue is dire, the plot all over the place and it’s all about dicks but fair play to Donohoe who spends a lot of the time half naked covered in body paint and delivers her character with gusto. Her line ‘Are you into any kind of banging?’ to a young victim who says he doesn’t like headbanging whilst listening to the music in her car is a true delight.
There’s also an appearance by a mongoose somewhere along the way too, and a bizarre sexy dream sequence for Grant’s character Lord James D’Ampton where his pencil literally rises as he’s being tempted on a plane by all the female characters as air stewardesses.
It’s not scary though. Nevermind. That doesn’t matter.
GORE RATING: 2/5
Watch it for: It’s a camp, cult classic with that fabulous Ken Russell aesthetic
Watch out for: The dream sequences – our eyes still hurt
Next up…Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace (1964)