6 March 2018



I want to say straight off the bat that I haven't yet, at the time of writing this, read the book by DRACULA author and fellow Irish person Bram Stoker that inspired this film, but I'm sure of one thing nonetheless.

At no time in the book would Mr. Stoker have written the words: 'Then her off CASTAWAY, the one who stripped down to her birthday suit and pranced around on the beach nekkid with Olly Reed, dresses up as Avatar and tries to 'do' her off DYNASTY with a big bronze dildo.' If he did, I'll eat my hat. I'll eat all of our hats...

Okay, so we've established that the screenplay by Ken THE DEVILS Russell may differ slightly from Stoker's book. Having said that, I'm aware that some critics think that THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM is not, how shall we put it, a good book.

One critic in particular, who shall remain nameless, who must remain nameless because he's not even on the flippin' Internet, even put the book at Number Twelve in a list he compiled of the worst horror novels ever written. Ouch...

Okay, so one of the worst horror novels ever written (this is not my personal opinion, by the way, as I haven't yet read the book) was turned into a film by a director with a well-documented taste for the flamboyant and bizarre. The result is a film so flamboyant and bizarre that it should come with a health warning. Or, better yet, buried in a hole so deep that even God Himself can't find it. (Foolish mortal! I can find anything anywhere! Signed, God.)

There's a little English country guest-house manned- or womanned...!- by two orphaned sisters whose parents have been inexplicably missing for about a year. Which is odd, because it's normally the daughters that go missing, not the old folks. That's well suspicious.

The sister's names are Mary and Eve Trent. Mary Trent talks with an annoying whine and, with her short blonde hair, could pass for Julian out of Enid Blyton's FAMOUS FIVE. Remember them, and their great adventures in and around Kirrin Island, which was owned by George's crusty old scientist father? 

Such adventures they had, mostly involving smugglers and the like. The only one that didn't involve smugglers, as far as I remember, was- rather ironically, I thought- set in a place called Smugglers' Cove. I think that one was about pirates. The Pirates Of Smugglers' Cove. Nothing to do with smugglers at all.

Eve Trent is played by a bland-faced blonde who used to star in glittering American soap opera DYNASTY. I think she was one of the wives, although the main wives were certainly Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington and Linda Evans as Krystle Carrington, both tied forever to billionaire Blake Carrington, played by John Forsythe (THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY by Alfred Hitchcock). Such a gloriously bitchy line-up of women, lol.

I was quite surprised, therefore, by Catherine Oxenberg's turning up in LAIR as a country bed-and-breakfast-maker, but not at all surprised by the level of blandness she displayed while so doing. The lights are on but no-one's home type of thing. Forgive me if I'm doing the lady a terrible injustice. She could be a member of MENSA and a delightful raconteur for all I know.

Her character, Eve Trent, is being rather idly pursued by the local toff, James D'Ampton. This is just Hugh Grant doing what Hugh Grant does in every movie, saying 'yaw' a lot, pretending to look intelligent and flipping his flippy-floppy barnet about. Talk about have posh voice, will travel. Has he ever not played a posh twit in any movie ever?

His ancestor John D'Ampton once killed a gigantic wriggly creature known in legend as 'the D'Ampton Worm' in a local hole called Stonerich Cavern. One doubts if the current incumbent of the castle and the title, James D'Ampton, ever battled with anything more sinister than a can of floppy-hair hairspray.

Anyway, a curly-haired Scotsman-slash-archaeology-student staying at Mary's and Eve's guest-house unearths the skull of a giant snake in the grounds of the guest-house. It's not an
accident or anything. He was deliberately excavating the site of an old convent, that stood on the site hundreds and hundreds of years ago, to see what he could find. He thinks the skull might be connected to the old legend of the D'Ampton Worm. Well, raise my rent...!

The curly-haired Scotsman is none other than a ridiculously young Peter Capaldi (DR. WHO, PADDINGTON BEAR), and he's probably the best darned actor in the whole shooting-match. Quite cute too, with his riotously curly hair and glasses and his little kilt, especially when he's playing his wee bagpipes.

Anyway, when Mary's and Eve's missing Dad's watch is found in the aforementioned Stonerich Cavern, both Floppy Hair and Mr. Kilt each wonder if there mightn't be some truth in the legend of the D'Ampton Worm after all.

Could a prehistoric animal possibly have survived in the old caves for all this time? And what's it got to do with anything if it has? Well, it might have eaten the Trent Girls' parents, see? Well, good luck with that. If they're as awful as their whiny daughters, they must have been pretty well indigestible.

And there are strange goings-on afoot at Temple House, the other local stately home in the district, D'Ampton Hall being the first one. The eccentric Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohue), who clearly has no idea how to dress for the British weather, lives there for part of the year. She kind of hibernates for the colder half, you see...

Lady Sylvia is the most ridiculous character in a cast of ridiculous characters. She lounges around the house in thigh-high black PVC boots and kinky ready-for-sex underwear and she eats pimply schoolboys for breakfast, or is it dinner? Either way, shudder. 

Every movement, every word out of her mouth is designed to seduce, and she has no trouble weaving her sex-magic on posh twit Floppy Hair and Ernie the local Plod. All men are deeply suggestible in the hands of a woman like that.

But what does the sex-mad, bisexual, sexually exhibitionistic and decidedly reptilian Lady Sylvia have to do with the disappearances of the Trent Girls' dreary old parents? Or, indeed, with the legend of the D'Ampton Worm? Or with anything at all, even?

Well, I'm not going to tell you, of course, but I am at liberty to inform you that she does get her kit off. All of it. How'd'you like them apples, lol? Add this to the crazy visions of snakes, blood, rape and crucifixes everyone's having and you've got yourself a visually arresting film. As in, everyone involved in it should have been bloomin' well arrested, lol.

If you are a fan of this film, then you are as nutty as a fruitcake full of nuts but also some raisins because you need those in a fruitcake too. I happen to like fruitcake, however, as is evidenced by my Christmas cupboard. Every festive season I fill it with seasonal fruitcake which, because you can only eat so much fruitcake, then sits there for the rest of the year alternately rotting and reproaching me. So much for fruitcake...

Bram Stoker's THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM and also THE GATE and WISHMASTER are available now from VESTRON VIDEO, all restored and remastered on Blu-Ray with tons of brilliant extra features.These three cult horror classics are each out now from LIONSGATE, as part of something called the VESTRON COLLECTOR'S SERIES, a collection of films for cult classic fans. 


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


You can contact Sandra at:



No comments:

Post a Comment