Director Ken Russell’s films are an acquired taste. They tend to have a camp value that is a little trying at times. He’s almost like a British Brian DePalma in the sense that he just goes for it and all others be damned.
THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM is no exception. What you might expect to be a Lovecraftian horror tale about old Gods is at its core a deeply dark comedy where the violence plays right alongside the kinky sex.
Based on Bram Stoker’s (Dracula) final novel, the story of THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM is set in motion when archeologist Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi aka the new “Doctor” on DOCTOR WHO) finds an unusual skull buried on the property of a bed & breakfast in the rural English countryside.
Could this be the remains of the pagan god known as “The White Worm?”
Flint is soon introduced to Lord James D’Ampton (Hugh Grant) by Mary (Sammi Davis) and Eve (Catherine Oxenberg), the sisters who run the B&B. As it turns out D’Ampton is the descendant of a knight who centuries ago slew the White Worm, a dragon who terrorized the countryside demanding blood sacrifices in his honor.
It seems that the reign of the White Worm is not quite over as the mysterious Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe) has been seducing men and sacrificing them to her god in order to bring his terror back to the world.
The plot is nothing new. What is so distinctive is the sheer audacity Russell employs telling tale. Grand Guignol at its best, there is quite a lot of sex and violence as well as questionable religious imagery that might offend the overly sensitive. These sequences are bloody and rife with nudity and deviant sex.
But it’s all meant in good fun. Tongue firmly planted in cheek; the actors are practically winking at the screen during the more lurid moments. So if you can divorce yourself from any puritanical tendencies you can really enjoy the film, which moves quickly with plenty of bloody good eye-candy.