The Lair of the White Worm (film)

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The Lair of the White Worm
Lair of the white worm.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKen Russell
Produced byDan Ireland
William J. Quigley
Ken Russell
Ronaldo Vasconcellos
Screenplay byKen Russell
Based onThe Lair of the White Worm
by Bram Stoker
Music byStanislas Syrewicz
CinematographyDick Bush
Edited byPeter Davies
White Lair
Distributed byVestron Pictures
Release date
14 September 1988
Running time
93 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$2,500,000 (estimated)
Box office$1,189,315 (US)[1]

The Lair of the White Worm is a 1988 British horror film based loosely on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name and drawing upon the English legend of the Lambton Worm. The film was written and directed by Ken Russell and stars Amanda Donohoe and Hugh Grant.


Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) is a Scottish archaeology student excavating the site of a convent at the Derbyshire bed and breakfast run by the Trent sisters, Mary (Sammi Davis) and Eve (Catherine Oxenberg). He unearths an unusual skull which appears to be that of a large snake. Angus believes it may be connected to the local legend of the d'Ampton 'worm', a mythical snake-like creature from ages past said to have been slain in Stonerich Cavern by John d'Ampton, the ancestor of current Lord of the Manor, James d'Ampton (Hugh Grant).

When a pocket watch is discovered in Stonerich Cavern, James comes to believe that the d'Ampton worm may be more than a legend. The watch belonged to the Trent sisters' father, who disappeared a year earlier near Temple House, the stately home of the beautiful and seductive Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe).

The enigmatic Lady Sylvia is in fact an immortal priestess to the ancient snake god, Dionin. As James correctly predicted, the giant snake roams the caves which connect Temple House with Stonerich Cavern. Lady Sylvia steals the skull and abducts Eve Trent, intending to offer her as the latest in a long line of sacrifices to her snake-god. Before Lady Sylvia can execute her evil plan, Angus and James rescue Eve and destroy both Lady Sylvia and the giant snake. However, Lady Sylvia bites Angus before she dies, and Angus finds himself cursed to carry on the vampiric, snake-like condition.



The movie was made as part of a four-picture deal Russell and producer Dan Ireland had with Vestron Pictures. 1986's Gothic had been a big success on video, and Vestron told Ireland that if Russell could come up with a horror movie, they would finance his planned prequel to Women in Love, The Rainbow. Ireland says that Russell originally wanted to cast Tilda Swinton, but she turned down the role, and Amanda Donohoe was cast instead. Ireland also claims that Russell made the film partly as a tribute to Oscar Wilde.[2]

Referring to aspects of the movie's visual style, Slant wrote: "Russell layers visual elements—faces, bodies, flames—into the video footage using chroma-key compositing, achieving a disorienting surrealist-collage effect".[3]

Critical reception[edit]

The film has received a mixed critical response. On movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 64%, based on 25 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6/10.[4] Roger Ebert gave it two stars out of four and called it "a respectable B-grade monster movie."[5] Variety called it "a rollicking, terrifying, post-psychedelic headtrip."[6]


  1. ^ The Lair of the White Worm at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Melville, Marty (15 May 2012). "Dan Ireland on The Lair of the White Worm". The Trailers From Hell! Blog. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  3. ^ Wilkins, Budd (9 February 2017). "The Lair of the White Worm | Blu-Ray Review | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  4. ^ "The Lair of the White Worm (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (11 November 1988). "Lair Of The White Worm :: :: Reviews". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  6. ^ "The Lair of the White Worm". Variety. 31 December 1988. Retrieved 28 July 2012.

External links[edit]