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Film / The Lair of the White Worm

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Good luck trying to charm her.
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Lair of the White Worm is a 1988 horror movie directed by Ken Russell; starring Amanda Donohoe and a young Hugh Grant, loosely based on a novel by Bram Stoker.

The film begins with Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi), a Scottish archaeologist, discovering a large reptilian skull in the backyard of English sisters, Mary and Eve Trent. The Trent sisters share with him that their father disappeared in a local legendary cave while on expedition and believe the skull might be connected somehow. This cave was on the property of the D'Ampton family, nobles in the area and the subject of a local legend. Centuries ago, a D'Ampton fought a giant snake in the same cave and killed it by cutting it in half with a sword. This giant snake is referred to in legend (and a rock'n folk song) as the D'Ampton Worm. They soon meet James D'Ampton (Grant), the current heir to the property, and attempt to unravel the mystery.

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Meanwhile, returning from a vacation, Lady Sylvia Marsh (Donohoe) returns to her mansion next to the D'Ampton home. Lady Marsh is a well respected member of the area and, of course, happens to be a vampire. It also just so happens that she worships the D'Ampton Worm and is keen on its return. She has her eyes set on James D'Ampton and the sisters, particularly Eve. As it turns out, Lady Marsh needs the blood of a virgin to release the D'Ampton Worm and Eve fits the bill. What follows is a surreal, tongue-in-cheek horror movie filled with the occult, blood sucking, a giant snake, and Amanda Donohoe with a strap-on.


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This film provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Angus pats Mary's head after rescuing her and Eve.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: The final shot is of Angus in full-fledged vampire mode. It creates a bit of a Bolivian Army Ending.
  • Ankle Drag: Sylvia drags Angus to her sacrifice location.
  • Badass Bookworm: Angus is pretty nerdy but isn't afraid to fight vampires and giant snakes.
  • Batman Gambit: Angus and James' preparation to take down Lady Marsh involves research, careful planning, and giant pairs of balls.
  • Between My Legs: A shot of Eve toward the end as she is prepared to be sacrificed.
  • Brave Scot: Fluffy and nerdy Angus turns out to be one.
  • Break the Cutie: It seems this happens to Eve after her virginity is nearly taken away by Lady Marsh.
  • Camp: Quite intentional.
  • Campbell Country: D'Ampton is a small town in rural England and also the site of an ancient dragon and his vampire worshippers.
  • Cat Fight: James has a dream about Lady Marsh and Eve as wrestling flight attendants.
  • Curse That Cures: Angus does not need his glasses after being bitten.
  • Daylight Horror: The vampires can function during the day. The cop-turned-vampire going after Angus is a clear example.
  • Death by Sex: Spending a night with Lady Marsh has a very obvious result.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: James' reaction to Sylvia's The Importance of Being Earnest reference.
  • Eye Scream: The aforementioned vampire cop happens to land on a sundial, ripping an eye out of his socket in a particularly gory shot.
  • Fanservice:
    • Every scene with Amanda Donohoe.
    • The young landlord portrayed by Hugh Grant has a shirtless scene.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lady Marsh is very friendly to everyone, but is still a vampire who wants to sacrifice virgins to her snake god.
  • Folk Horror: Lady Marsh's cult worshipping the Worm is referred to as pre-Christian Paganist, but it's portrayed as part-Lovecraftian, part-Satanic.
  • Foreshadowing: During the party there is a sketch, where the worm is trying to eat Eve (who's having a lot of fun) and James cuts it into halves, bravely rescuing his Damsel in Distress.
    • Played straight: James does cut an evil creature into halves with a sword.
    • Subverted: Eve is to be eaten by the worm for real, but it's Angus who saves her and kills the monster.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Lady Marsh attacks while at least partly nude in the end.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Unless it deals with virgin sacrifices.
  • Good Lips, Evil Jaws: Lady Marsh's transformation into gaping-jawed reptilian horror.
  • Groin Attack: An oral attack from a vampire even... Ouch!
  • Human Sacrifice: The D'Ampton Worm needs one in order to come back. It's preferable that the human is a virgin.
  • Homage: The D'Ampton Worm story is very obviously based in part on the legend of The Lambton Worm.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Angus tries pickled earthworm (a local specialty) before he realizes what it is. He doesn't take it well.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Lady Marsh has sex with men but that seems to be a means to an end when it comes to feeding. She takes a more particular liking to Eve.
  • Man in a Kilt: Angus during the party and the climax. In the end of the movie James pulls the kilt up by accident and sees the bite. Wouldn't work with trousers.
  • Monster Progenitor: It's implied that the D'Ampton Worm spawned the snake-like vampires shown in this film. It's also possible that Lady Marsh was one of the first or possibly the first.
  • Mrs. Robinson: A very dark example.
  • Mushroom Samba: Touching the acid left behind by Lady Marsh makes people hallucinate briefly.
  • Nature Abhors a Virgin: Lady Marsh mocks the idea of virginity and is delighted in sacrificing virgins to her snake god.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The D'Ampton Worm is a giant serpent and is worshipped by, and possible created, a race of reptilian vampires.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're Lizard Folk, apparently. The usual weakness toward Christian crosses is also averted as shown when Lady Marsh dissolves a crucifix by spitting acid on it. They can be charmed by listening to rhythmic music, apparently (which isn't how snake charming works, but whatever). They don't drink blood (their fangs are for injecting venom). Oh, and these vampires function in daylight. Lady Marsh at one point is even seen using a sun bed!
  • Painful Rhyme:
''And when at night it crawled about all looking for some booze,
It fit fell dry upon the road, it milked a dozen cows.''
— The Ear Worm song... ear worm, get it?


Alternative Title(s): The Lair Of The White Worm

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