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Lair of the White Worm Movie Review

russell ken vampire oxenberg

Ken Russell's Lair of the White Worm just may be the only film you'll ever see in which an archaeologist in kilts wards off a vampire cop by playing the bagpipes. It also functions as a cautionary tale to Boy Scouts who may be tempted to accept a lift from a ravishing lady vampire in a Jaguar. And, like Hillaire Belloc, Victorian author of such Cautionary Verses as Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion and Matilda, Who Told Lies, and Was Burned to Death, Russell adapted a little-known Bram Stoker work with tongue in cheek and both eyes and ears receptive to humor. There are more groan jokes about sex in the script than there is sex, and there are, of course, the obligatory British digs at Class, the Police, and Hospitals. Fetching Amanda Donohoe portrays evil vampire Lady Sylvia Marsh, who kidnaps first the Trent parents and then their innkeeper daughters, Eve and Mary (Catherine Oxenberg and Sammi Davis). Will Lord James (Hugh Grant) and Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) reach the girls in time? We can at least rest assured that, along the way, Russell will use every item in his usual bag of tricks. The acting from all four leads is funny and sincere, and Oxenberg, traditionally cast as princesses-in-waiting, is quite good as a working class damsel-in-distress. Too silly to be scary and an eyelash too smug to be entirely clever, Lair of the White Worm will nonetheless please horror fans too young to remember the early serials to which Russell owes his greatest debt.

1988 (R) 93m/C GB Amanda Donohoe, Sammi Davis, Catherine Oxenberg, Hugh Grant, Peter Capaldi, Stratford Johns, Paul Brooke, Christopher Gable; D: Ken Russell; W: Ken Russell; C: Dick Bush; M: Stanislas Syrewicz. VHS, LV, DVD

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