Ken Russell the films
Looking for a budget: The Lair of the White Worm

 


Ken Russell Lair of the White Worm Donohoe

The Lair of the White Worn from 1988.  A filming of Bram Stoker's badly written novel. Strange considering Ken found Stoker's most famous book Dracula to be boring.  The worm is actually a snake, and a snake woman searches out sacrifices. Her car, moving through the night with green headlamps looks like a snake ("I change my cars like a snake sheds its skin"). With her make-up she looks sexy but not frightening, but it doesn't matter as the film becomes a horror-comedy.  Hugh Grant is the lord of the manor, who slays a symbolic snake at a party (in a scene based on Lang's Siegfried) and later kills the snake woman in the same way. But the snake woman is only the servant to the god.

Ken Russell Lair of the White Worm sacrifice

Because Oxenberg refused to appear nude we have the unique sacrificial scene where the executioner is naked, but the victim, tied and bound and waiting to be sacrificed to a giant worm, still wears her bra and knickers.
 

 


People

Amanda Donohoe in Lair of the White Worm   Hugh Grant in Lair of the White Worm

Amanda Donohue is superb as the Snake Woman.  Hugh Grant plays a grinning Englishman with a cute hairstyle.  Unknown Sammi Davis is good in the role of helpless female. Catherine Oxenberg of Dynasty is not especially good.  Ken Russell's daughter appears briefly in a film within the film.
 

 


Best Image

Ken Russell Lair of the White Worm

The hands of the watch turned into snakes.
The hose-pipe writhing like a snake.

Ken Russell Lair of the White Worm


 Site visitor Francesca (thanks Francesca) says "I would like to suggest another best image for
Lair of the White Worm. You feature a picture of Amanda Donohoe hissing on the crucifix. When she draws back there is a shadow on the wall from a spider plant. It forms a man's head with a starburst for an eye. It's a neat image. And quite low budget".
 

 


Best Scene

The Lair of the White Worm

The folk band performing and the ceremonial worm being cut in half.
 

 


Themes

Ken Russell Lair of the White Worm

The party sequence with the ceremonial worm is a homage to Fritz Lang's Siegfried.
There is a lame Rosebud joke.
Lots of snakes, the game of snakes and ladders. A nunnery and a dream sequence featuring nuns, rape, crucifixion and snakes.
The caves and lighting are similar to the caves in Altered States.

Ken Russell Lair of the White Worm
 

 


Films

Other films released in the same year include Rainman, A Fish Called Wanda and The Last Temptation of Christ as well as Russell's Salome´s Last Dance.
 

click for previous films click for films index click for next films