If ever there was a genuine example of a dodgy late-night horror ‘Lair of the White Worm’ firmly has my vote. One part ‘Carry-on’ comedy farce, one-part hammer-horror and one part not giving a fxxk, this one is a riot from start to finish.
The synopsis: On a farm owned by Eve Trent (Catherine Oxenberg) and her sister Mary (Sammi Davis), young archaeologist Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) discovers a large and inexplicable skull, which he soon deduces belonged to the D’Ampton Worm, a mythical beast supposedly slain generations ago by the ancestor of the current Lord D’Ampton (Hugh Grant). The predatory Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe) soon takes an interest in both Flint and the virginal Eve, hinting that the vicious D’Ampton Worm may still live.
See that, right off the bat, Hugh Grant and Peter Capaldi battling a giant worm, but what the press release fails to prepare you for is, at the same time as this clash of soon-to-be UK talent titans is going on Amanda Donoho’s Lady Mash is threatening a violent deflowering of poor Eve with a 2ft strapon! Where else? And thanks to Lionsgate’s ‘Vestron’ label, you can see all that, and more, in vibrant HD.
Sold. Right there.
However, if you need a little more convincing…
Well interestingly the story is loosely based on Bram Stokers book of the same name, which in turn is based on an authentic County Durham (England) legend about the giant Lambton worm (more probable reference to Wrym, as in dragon type thing) who is indeed slain by Lord Dampton in an act of redemption, as it was him who brought the beast upon the people of this fair northern county. As such the film, set and filmed in England, features some reasonably authentic looking locations, some less than authentic accents, and some amusing opportunities for some great British (Northern) stereo-types.
There has been of course some creative licence taken with both the original story and the published text, indeed, if you are familiar with Ken Russel’s other, slightly more acclaimed work, you will know he has a bit of a thing with the female form. If the title doesn’t give away the films slightly erotic intent, many of the film’s innuendo (which are about as subtle as a sweaty woman enjoying a thick juicy Cumberland sausage) will leave you in no doubt; long before the films aforementioned climax scene.
Despite the films zany approach to the film making formula, there are some great performances, Amanda Donoho in-particular plays the sultry Lady Marsh perfectly as the films sinister antagonist. The other cast members do their thing, and all appear to be enjoying themselves if nothing else. From a technical standpoint the film is symptomatic of a director whose best days were perhaps behind him, still it holds together well enough, albeit very much on the hammy-side of things. Pacing however is on point, and there is always something on screen to entertain, and it does this very well indeed.
Overall, check out the trailer, see if its for you. It’s a bad movie, but great in all the right ways. It never takes itself too seriously and it invites you to laugh along with it. It has plenty of memorable scenes, a couple of truly creepy moments, some lo-fi gore and enough innuendo and risqué moments to keep your inner man-child year amused for at least a couple of hours.