Ode to VHS: Lair of the White Worm

Every once in a while I ascertain some of the idiosyncratic features I recall seeing on video shelves but never dared to rent. That third VHS cover is the cover I remember. Boy am I glad I finally decided to watch this fanciful and exotic magnum opus that I consider endless ingenuity! The Lair of the White Worm is an aesthetic and harmonious tale that lives up to its title. It’s based off of Bram Stoker’s novel with the same title. I haven’t read the novel but I’ve heard quite a few positive comments. Famous film critic Roger Ebert (one of my mentors) calls the film entertaining and atmospheric and qualifies as a genuine horror movie. It’s hard to win Ebert over since he absolutely hates horror movies. By watching this film, you are opening your mind to a bizarre world pervaded with coarse imagery and bright colors. It’s beautifully shot with a fair amount of blood and gore. There’s a 30 second hallucination with Roman soldiers raping nuns in front of a cross with gigantic snake biting into Jesus on this cross,  while a topless blue vampire chick wags her tongue around. It’s a little over the top but still manages to be artistic. Aside from bizarre hallucinations, there is a erratic dream Hugh Grant has that I cannot wrap my head around. He’s strapped down on an airplane watching stewardesses fight in sexy stewardess gear. I don’t even know how to explain it. You must see this for yourself. I want to get my hands on that “Snakes and Ladders” board game!!!!

The story revolves around a Scottish archeologist with ambrosial glasses, two sisters running a convent, and a young Hugh Grant. The archeologist discovers a skull and all hell breaks loose. This town has a legend called the “d’Ampton worm” that’s a mystical snake killed in Stonerich Vanern by John d’Ampton, Hugh Grant’s ancestor. James (Grant) believes the snake may have survived and is beneath the cavern. Meanwhile, the snakes immortal priestess is raising hell. At the beginning of the film, they’re all out partying hard and dancing around a snake puppet, singing along with a catchy song about the local legend. The song is called “The d’Ampton Worm” by Emilio Perez Machado and Stephen Powys.

Is it scary? You will catch yourself giggling at a few bits but I’m not going to lie, last night I jumped six feet above the covers when I saw one of the snake, vampire-like creatures attack. Maybe not six feet but close. I wasn’t expecting that. It’s hard to make me jump so kudos to Ken Russell. Perhaps one of the bits that had me giggling the most is when they play snake charmer music. It has Amanda Donohoe dancing and swooning over those melodic tunes because SHE’S A FUCKING SNAKE. The giant snake puppet at the end was a little ridiculous but to geeks like me, it was quite enjoyable. This prop was actually a painted Volkswagen Beetle hood that resembles the mouth of a giant snake. Donohoe was wearing a fake ivory penis and planned to plunge it into her virgin sacrifice. Earlier in the film we saw flashes of men wearing these things and raping women with it. This film has a charm to it. I cannot believe I never rented this. I loved the look of the vampire, snake-like people. Those teeth! *shudders*

The cast and crew were absolutely sublime. I found myself strangely attracted to a young Hugh Grant. I’ve never been a huge fan of his romantic comedies but this does make me want to give him another chance. Amanda Donohoe is gorgeous, even with the armpit hair. You may remember her as the mega bitch in Liar Liar. You know, the one Jim Carrey sleeps with and claims HE HAD BETTER! I dug her performance. If I could just get passed the silliness of her role. While she’s not lying around naked in tanning beds (what the fuck) or hanging out in trees, she’s lying around in dominatrix gear and seducing boy scouts. Spitting poisonous venom at crosses is also a hobby of hers. Ken Russell is one of my favorite directors. You can add titles like; The Devils, Tommy, Crimes of Passion, and Altered States to his belt.

If you’re into vampires, snakes, virgin sacrifices, nuns raped and impaled, and strap-ons then Lair of the White Worm is for you!

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