The Lair of the White Worm (film)

The Lair of the White Worm

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ken Russell
Produced by Dan Ireland
William J. Quigley
Ken Russell
Ronaldo Vasconcellos
Screenplay by Ken Russell
Based on The Lair of the White Worm
by Bram Stoker
Music by Stanislas Syrewicz
Cinematography Dick Bush
Edited by Peter Davies
White Lair
Distributed by Vestron Pictures
Release dates
14 September 1988
Running time
93 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $2,500,000 (estimated)
Box office $1,189,315 (US)

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), 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), unearths an unusual skull which appears to be that of a large snake. He 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 the pocket watch of 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), is found miles away in Stonerich Cavern, James comes to believe that the creature may be more than a mere legend, dwelling deep beneath the cavern.

The enigmatic Lady Sylvia is in fact the immortal priestess to the ancient snake god, Dionin, which, as James correctly predicted, indeed survives, roaming the underground 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 god. Before she can follow through with her evil actions, Angus, with the help of James, manages to rescue Eve and destroy both Sylvia and the worm. Angus however is bitten in the process by Sylvia, and 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.[1]

Critical reception

The film has received a mixed critical response. On movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 59%, based on 22 reviews, and is certified "rotten."[2] Roger Ebert gave it two stars out of four and called it "a respectable B-grade monster movie."[3] Variety called it "a rollicking, terrifying, post-psychedelic headtrip."[4]

See also


  1. Melville, Marty (15 May 2012). "Dan Ireland on The Lair of the White Worm". The Trailers From Hell! Blog. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  2. "The Lair of the White Worm – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  3. Ebert, Roger (11 November 1988). "Lair Of The White Worm :: :: Reviews". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  4. "The Lair of the White Worm". Variety. 31 December 1988. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
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