BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Written, directed and produced by Ken Russell, The Lair of the White Worm remains a phallic-obsessed journey through an endless barrage of serpent double-entendres by way of Bram Stoker. Russell would have it no other way either. He was, after all, a self-confessed Fellini fan and loved to be as flamboyant as he possibly could in the face of all the austerity that surrounded him.
The quirky horror film – with all its fanged penile clippings – is being reintroduced on blu-ray thanks to the efforts of Vestron Video (who originally financed the movie) as part of Lionsgate’s Vestron Video Collector’s Series. The B-movie is absurdly unhinged as a Snake Woman gets charmed by a scout’s harmonica-playing AND visually explicit as Roman soldiers rape nuns and spit on crucifixes in their pursuit of the white worm.
From past credits like The Who’s Tommy to Altered States and Whore, audiences already know Russell isn’t afraid to throw everything at the screen. He seals the deal with the phallic-kissed images throughout this flick. Amazingly enough, The Lair of the White Worm works more often than it doesn’t thanks to the forked tongue of the mischievous spirit that guides it.
Starring Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins), Sammi Davis (The Rainbow), and Amanda Donohue as Lady Sylvia Marsh, the slithering neighbor with one long and winding “thing” for white snakes, this is one horror film that only a select few will embrace. It is loaded with bizarro images all revolving around tube-shaped items. It doesn’t even try to hide its symbolism which, I’m sure, will offend some viewers – especially when those images come at the cost of Christianity’s most Holy. Oh, well.
Turns out, the legend of the white worm is true and the sisters who operate a local Bed & Breakfast are about to be its sacrifices. From the spaghetti noodles everyone eats to the vacuum hose that trips one sister eliciting all sorts of hallucinations, Marsh’s sophisticated neighbor – once he learns of the discovery of the skull of an abnormally large snake by an archaeologist studet – is merely bait for the d’Ampton worm’s supreme rebirth.
Evil, after all, never really dies; it merely worms its way into another willing vessel.
This release is yet another strong one from the Vestron brand reboot. And the supplemental items – featuring commentaries from the director and from his fourth wife – makes it even more delicious. While I am sure some will be obnoxiously offended by the images locked inside The Lair of the White Worm, this B-movie is all about the 1980s and embraces so many fun and cheesy elements in horror that its bound to be appealing to even the strictest of Horror Hounds.
Rigid sophistication has met its match, Lords and Ladies. Get with this title and ride the snake all night long.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 93 mins
Director: Ken Russell
Writer: Ken Russell
Cast: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg
Genre: Horror | Comedy
Tagline: A chilling blend of American Graffiti and Psycho.
Memorable Movie Quote: "From the director of Altered States and the creator of Dracula."
Theatrical Distributor: Vestron Pictures
Release Date: October 21, 1988
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: January 31, 2017
Synopsis: Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint discovers an odd skull amid the ruins of a convent and learns of the legend of the D'Ampton Worm, a huge dragon-snake. As people begin disappearing and acting strangely, it appears that an ancient cult is attempting to resurrect the Worm.
Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Available on Blu-ray - Janury 31, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Offered courtesy of Lionsgate Films and its new handling of the Vestron Video imprint in 1.85:1, the AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is a relative goldmine of previously unseen details and colors. This is EASILY the best the film has ever (and probably will) look. The details in the rooms of both the mansions and the bed & breakfast are strong. The clothing and some of period piece furniture items are a reason to appreciate the visual “pop” throughout the high definition transfer, too. Hell, even the “cave” exploration looks solid. The atmosphere is especially nice. The crisp image quality is the best you’re going to get with a film like this and, admittedly, even a bit better than expected. Some stuff from the same era hasn’t made the HD transition quite as well, but The Lair of the White Worm looks much, much better than expected. Colors are perfect. Blacks are solid. Skin tones are detailed and appropriate. The original 2.0 Stereo Audio is included, as well as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Audio.
There are two commentaries included with this release. The first is with Ken Russell and the second is with Lisi Russell, Russell’s fourth wife, as she talks about the movie in conversation with film historian Matthew Melia.
Also included is a solid look at the making of the film, engaging (and refreshingly honest) interviews with editor Peter Davies and actress Sammi Davis, and a Trailers From Hell featuring an introduction and commentary with producer Dan Ireland. For Boils and Ghouls, this slithering title is worth owning.
- Worm Food - The Effects of The Lair of the White Worm (27 min)
- Cutting for Ken (9 min)
- Trailers from Hell Featuring Producer Dan Ireland (3 min)
- Mary, Mary - An Interview with Actress Sammi Davis (16 min)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Still Gallery