The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

lair of the white worm poster 1988 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good concept

Poorly developed, cheap looking at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Lair of the White Worm

Studio:  Vestron Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  September 14, 1988

MPAA Rating:  R


Kiss, kiss!!!

The legend of the D’Ampton worm continues to live among the people of Derbyshire.  The descendant of the legendary slayer of the worm James D’Ampton (Hugh Grant) and his family are celebrated every year.  When an archaeologist named Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) discovers evidence that the worm might be real, things begin to be happening.  A mysterious woman named Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe) has moved into the nearby Temple House and Eve and Mary Trent (Catherine Oxenberg and Sammi Davis) whose parents disappeared might have been the first victims.  Now, Angus and Lord D’Ampton must stop the terror of the worm once and for all.


You could sell that snake venom!

Directed by Ken Russell, The Lair of the White Worm is an adaptation of the Bram Stoker story from 1911.  Both the story and the film are based on the legend of Lambton Worm which tells the story of a man slaying a worm which results in a curse.  The movie was met with so-so reviews but has since developed a cult following.

The Lair of the White Worm at points is very clever and at other points is quite weak.  The odd story is mixed with an even odder filming style that sometimes goes to an Andy Warhol type surreal world by those poisoned by the worm.


Give me a hug!!!

The story is infused with a lot of humor.  It is often difficult to consider this movie a horror movie despite some horrific scenes.  Be it the goofy worm toxin visions or the ha-ha ending (arthritis medication), the movie is often funnier than it is scary…which is odd since it was such a creepy serpent woman in Amanda Donohoe.

The movie has become known as one of Hugh Grant’s first film.  Despite being a horror film, Hugh continues play his same charming role despite the subject matter. Angus Flint plays the bagpiping Scot archeologist with comedy, and Eve Trent and Mary Trent are pretty weak as the sister co-stars.  The movie fortunately scores with Amanda Donohoe as the worm woman (allegedly Tilda Swinton was in the running at the time).


Damn…A giant white snake thing…

Visually the movie has an almost Hammer like quality to it.  The sets and design look rather cheap (the ending sequence with the worm in the hole is awful).  The visuals are livened up by really bizarre fantasy sequences which depict the crucifixion and other psychedelic imagery.  Unfortunately, time has not been kind to The Lair of the White Worm in that it looks like an ’80s movie in style.

The Lair of the White Worm pops up on occasion on some “best of” lists.  Russell’s horror film in this period did well on video, and The Lair of the White Worm was no exception.  It is worth checking out as an oddity of the ’80s and a different feeling horror film.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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