Christianity and paganism clash in Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm, a campy account of the horrors that beset a small England town when the mysterious Lady Sylvia Marsh (Catherine Oxenberg) decides to conjure up the ghosts of worms from long ago. An unearthed reptilian skull and several Roman coins seemingly provokes one woman’s curious sexual hallucinations that bring to mind Julie Taymor Titus. Having helped Roman warriors rape and kill a group of nuns during days of yore, a snake with a hearty sexual appetite returns to the present looking for more sacrificial lambs. Heir to a family of dragon-slayers, Lord James D’Ampton (Hugh Grant) suspects Marsh of wrongdoing once she reveals her penchant for “Snakes & Ladders.” Russell’s compositions are gorgeous to look at though it’s the deliciousness with which the story unravels that made Lair of the White Worm Russell’s most enjoyable film since his masterpiece Crimes of Passion. One amusing scenario here says everything that needs to be said about Russell as a director: James discusses worm-lore while his friend Angus (Peter Capaldi) voraciously chews on spaghetti. Cheap effects and gratuitous displays of nudity only heighten the film’s delirious demeanor.
- Vestron Pictures
- 93 min
- Ken Russell
- Ken Russell
- Hugh Grant, Amanda Donohoe, Catherine Oxenberg, Peter Capaldi, Sammi Davis, Statford Johns, Paul Brooke, Imogen Claire
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