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The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Amanda Donohoe , Hugh Grant , Ken Russell  |  R |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg, Peter Capaldi, Sammi Davis
  • Directors: Ken Russell
  • Writers: Ken Russell, Bram Stoker
  • Producers: Ken Russell, Dan Ireland, Ronaldo Vasconcellos, William J. Quigley
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: August 19, 2003
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009YXHG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,247 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Lair of the White Worm" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sammi Davis, Catherine Oxenberg, Hugh Grant. When an archaeologist unearths a strange skull, Londoners are exposed to the lustful cravings of the White Worm, a pagan god who hungers for virginal flesh. 1988/color/93 min/R/widescreen.

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

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First-Class Trash October 18, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This one was despised by the serious critics, but all that means is that they weren't weird enough to enjoy it. All right, it's trash. But it's great trash. It's my idea of a feel-good movie. It's kinky, erotic, scary, and funny. And bright. Literally. After zillions of creepy, dark, scary scenes in movies, the sunshine and well-lit rooms in this one emphasize the horror scenes. But who cares about the lighting? It's main attraction is an over-the-top performance by Amanda Donohoe as a very bad girl. Upper-crust Hugh Grant and his cohorts have a lot of fun trying to evade her slithery grasp. That's about all you need to know. But for heaven's sakes, don't take it seriously. If you hate it, you'll really hate it.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Off beat Cult film!!! January 28, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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, then this film is NOT for you!! Amanda Donahoe turns out a stunning performs as the Lady who is not a lady. Hugh Grant (before he was HUGH Grant) is perfect as Lord D'Ampton. A mystery, a horror with vampire tones, Russell crafts a winning hommage to old Hammer Films, and boldly goes where they rarely did, and adds the dash of droll humour to top off the mix.
Russell's best film!! But as I said, NOT everyone will appreciate it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a satire! May 12, 2001
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 before us. It draws us in, taking every ounce of Donohoe's performance into our jealously campy hearts. You can't help but completely fall in love with every perforamce presented here, but Amanda Donohoe is fabulous!!! Complete with monstrous white worms lurking in caves, vampire cults, blood and gore, sword play, Hugh Grant at his campy best (outshining even the likes of Rupert Everett) and a satirical director at the top of his form. Lair of the White Worm is a masterpiece, a hidden gem that must be given serious reconsideration!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good horror that is fun to watch January 8, 2000
Lair of the White Worm is originally a story by Bram Stoker (author of Dracula) and the book is really worth reading. It is based on an old folk tale, adapted by many different authors, of how a giant worm (dragon) was slain by a knight. In one story the knight clad himself in a plate mail of spikes and when the worm tried to crush him, it killed itself.
The movie (and book) takes place several hundred years later when the Lord James D'Ampton (Hugh Grant), grandchild of the knight who slew the worm, returns to his castle at the same time as an old skull, of unknown species is found by an archeology student (Peter Capaldi). At the same time a mysterious lady (Amanda Donohoe) arrives from her travels abroad. And people start to disappear.
The story is good, the actors are excellent, the filming is beautiful, but the special effects sometimes leaves something to wish for. One has to remember that this is Ken Russel directing which means spooky dream sequences, some weird camery angles and characters that are a bit too much - in a good way. This is also true for the dialogue. Hugh Grant is simply perfect as the snobbish lord that has set his mind to destroy the new D'Ampton-worm and with Amanda Donohoe as the evil worm-cultist, sexy and manipulating at once, things couldn't be better.
A Ken Russel-fan will definitely love this one, so will any one that has liked Sam Raimi's (Evil Dead) movies, even if this hasn't got as much gore). So will also anyone who likes their horror with an ironic touch. Anyone that wants the standard version of Hollywood Horror should choose another one.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Hugh Grant and Peter Capaldi did not disappoint, but this movie is...
The movie was silly and predictable, but we watched it because of the cast. Hugh Grant and Peter Capaldi did not disappoint, but this movie is strictly for fun when your... Read more
Published 9 days ago by L. T. Barr
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Not very interesting.
Published 1 month ago by Marty
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a weird guilty pleasure.
This is one of those movies that I can't really recommend to anyone I know because it probably has something to offend all of them. Amanda Donohoe's character was really fun. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael Halverson
3.0 out of 5 stars Cringe-inducing but fun
Deliciously awful- but I'm a fan of bad horror/scifi. Should have been a MST3K.
Published 1 month ago by James Webb
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 1 month ago by Shannon Davis Lawson
4.0 out of 5 stars Viewers will enjoy the various turns in the lives of lead actors
Saw thisfilm first on cable station so ordered it for the odd tale it has. Viewers will enjoy the various turns in the lives of lead actors.
Published 2 months ago by Robert D. Ratledge
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Really needs more extras.
Published 2 months ago by Sociologydude
1.0 out of 5 stars Really awful movie!
Horrendous, horrifying, hideous, horrible, terrible, give me my hour and a half back that I wasted watching this...yes, that bad!
Published 6 months ago by S. Skidd
5.0 out of 5 stars Farciful Scotts Tryst
This has to be one of my favorite all time horror, humoresque, archetypal films. Hilarity right to the last moment with excellent Highland Pipes, myths, history, heraldry, house... Read more
Published 7 months ago by crosscountryman
1.0 out of 5 stars Just awful
I love horror movies, even bad ones sometimes, but this one was terrible.
It 2 as worse than the worst b - horror movie.
Published 7 months ago by Jsmithiii
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