Saturday, March 31, 2018

Lair of the White Worm



**** / *****
Lair of the White Worm (1988) is a wicked piece of business from cult auteur Ken Russell, an admitted favorite of mine during the 90s Midnite Movie era of my teenage years. Russell loved introducing blasphemous imagery, shot in this hallucinatory style, often incorporating dream logic to kind of inundate us with a lot to absorb. It can be a bit wild what Russell throws at us, joyfully thrusting upon us shocking visual subject matter often warping Christian history. In this film you have Eve (Catherine Oxenberg) merely touching the venom spit from the enraged “pagan priestess”, Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe, going for broke, deliciously embodying her dedicated immortal serpent cult follower looking to feed Eve, a virgin, to her pig/snake god, Dionin), upon a crucifix nailed to the wall of a room, “receiving” a trip back to when Christ was on the cross, enwrapped by a white snake while Roman soldiers rape and brutalize nuns on the ground who had been kneeling, reliving the horrifying experience! It was jarring and Russell really wallops us with it. Eve’s experience is a shock to the senses, and Russell visualizes it as surreal and blunt-force in approach.

Lady Marsh obviously targets those near her estate at Temple House, looking to sacrifice someone to her god. Talk of the D’Ampton worm included a little pub ditty I consider so addictive and memorable (it just sticks in the brain, too!), with a funny appearance of a costume worm introduced in a party set up by Lord James D’Ampton (Hugh Grant). James’ ancestor supposedly chopped a worm to pieces near Stonerich Cavern, a continued local legend that remains a topic of discussion and debate. James is happy-go-lucky about “student from uni”, Angus (recent Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi) excavating on his land, locating the skull of what could be the D’Ampton worm, eventually such news reaching Marsh who wants it for the sacrifice ritual in an underground lair where Dionin will once again rise to eat human lunch put before it! Nutty as all this is, Russell directs it all with nary a serious note…the tone is playful and naughty. Like when Marsh seduces a Cub Scout (!), taking a bite out of his dick, paralyzing the youth before drowning him due to James’ unexpected arrival. The use of a peculiar dildo gets plenty of onscreen time, harnessed to Marsh in an attempt to penetrate Eve for Dionin (all of this is just hard to write without grinning from ear to ear, it is just perverse), while Angus feigns a demise through snake bite…in order to deceive Marsh so he could immobilize her.

Donohoe gets plenty of time to don her serpent fangs and hiss while either naked or body painted. She drives sports cars, works her fashionista wardrobe like a confident vogue model, applies sexual innuendo in implied delivery recognizing a persona perfectly comfortable in her own skin, and preys heartily without a care in the world. Marsh thoroughly enjoys her handiwork and sacrificing Eve isn’t as much a chore as it is a pleasure. Eve’s sister, Mary (Sammi Davis), had been consumed by the disappearances of their parents and finds herself becoming involved with Angus, for whom she has good chemistry. Angus digs near her B&B, eventually discovering a floor with a snake mural (representing Dionin), unearthed during the “great archeological excavation”, resulted in Mary and him hitting it off. So a convent was built upon a place of worship to a pagan god…the imbalance is exploited by Russell with very little restraint. Marsh never fails to repeatedly mock God/Christ with the “false god” insult as she conducts her affairs for her own pagan god. There’s no shortage of snake activity and iconography, including “snakes & ladders” board game! Bagpipe, a record featuring Indian music, and a melody from a harmonica all serves as musical devices that could lure Marsh against her will, similarly to snakes captured by the influence of a particular piece played in a fashion too difficult to resist (however, Marsh does pull one over Angus through the use of earplugs). Not to be totally vulnerable, Marsh sends out victims of her bite to try and attack others: police officer, Erny (Paul Brooke), and matriarch of the Brents (Mary unexpectedly is bitten by her when she excitedly approaches her), both threatening the life of Mary.

Stratford Johns, as manservant Peters, has those expressive eyes and often a giddy reaction to topics in conversation (going back in the past to his duties for James’ father), always bookending his sentences with, “Yes, milord.” I found Johns a joy to watch when given bits here and there with Grant. Hugh, of course, being the recipient of his family’s wealth, orders Johns to the most menial of tasks (draw up his bathwater, open a locked door so that supposedly Marsh would enter, lock up the chambermaids…), often reinforcing the irksome position as a burden. Johns especially gets excited when thinking about the ladies.













I was also most amused at how Mary and Angus are often almost always annoyed at James, particularly when returning to Stonerich Cavern in the hopes of finding evidence, because he persists in the pursuit of a worm they consider just a myth and nothing more. But James considers the possibility has merit, specifically because of Angus’ finds and the disappearance of Mary and Eve’s parents, their father’s watch found in the area. So even as they often balk at James for offering the threat of a worm, his position ultimately is correct. The discontent between Erny and the other police officer (one cop car, a broken pump leaving the bike option mute, the taxi driver in jail due to a drunken stupor!) , voiced by Russell, is a hoot!

A giant worm with a large mouth with plenty of room to munch on an entire human in seconds is a bit much, but the film doesn’t shy from the absurdities of its content. Russell, in fact, embraces the lunacy, bolstered by his panache and sense of humor. It is all certainly a matter of distaste, but if you like such cult cinema, Lair of the White Worm fits the bill. Not to be outdone, Russell even provides a weird dream for Grant inside a plane (of all places) as Mary and Marsh serve as stewardesses. There is a catfight, Grant restrained, the parents practically catatonic, attempt to poison, and a trip for Grant from the plane briefly into the caverns before Peters’ noisy tray clumsiness awakens him before answers to it all could be found…just the right kind of enigmatic dream content certain to leave this sense of confusion. Whatever the case, this drives James towards initiating his own real search for answers.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Franky

Franky

drac 31

drac 31

Cushing as..

Cushing as..

Most Popular Posts

Ahs

Ahs

Edc

Edc
Blog's Dead all Over
"... perhaps we invent artificial terrors to cope with the real ones."

--host, Donald Pleasence, Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Sbut

Sbut
Snip. Snip

Hal

Hal
There are many things under the sun
---Dr. Werdegast, The Black Cat

hal1

It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Jtm 2

Jtm 2

Rave

Rave

Mrub

Mrub

Gb

"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

--Ghostbusters

sm6

sm6

Rv1

Rv1

Nas

Nas

nos3

nos3

Lok

Lok

Po

Po

Ra6

Ra6

dawn

dawn

Dracula's Daughter ('36)

Countess Zaleska: Be thou exorcised oh Dracula, and thy body long undead find destruction throughout eternity in the name of thy dark unholy Master.

mh2

mh2

z2

z2

Hiii

Hiii

Fred

Fred

Ghspo

Ghspo
Movie, so-so, but poster, cool

Enl

Enl

nos4

nos4

gm

To a new world of gods and monsters!


No 2

No 2
Jason Lives

clothes line

clothes line

Ahorr

Ahorr

Cbi1

Cbi1
Case of the bloody iris

Wsha

Wsha

Mouth3

Mouth3
In the Mouth of Madness

Fdfn2

Fdfn2
Freddy's Dead '91

Vyr

Vyr
Vampyres 1974

Sh fr

Sh fr
Friday the 13th Part 2

Vlov

Vlov
Carmilla's kiss

f133

f133

Edpos

Edpos

Ttf2

Ttf2

Jm2

Jm2
El Hombre Lobo

Psycho '60

It's sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man... as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can't move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

Kife

Kife
Knife is calling, Psycho 2

Meg

Meg
Meg Tilly, Psycho II

ring 2

ring 2
the ring 2002, "the tape"

poster

poster

exor1

exor1
"the visitor" The Exorcist (1973)

Conj

Conj

Tz1

Tz1
"Masks", Twilight Zone

In the kitchen, The Shape

In the kitchen, The Shape
In the kitchen, The Shape

exc4

exc4

Ps56

Ps56

Hun

Hun
Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

Ps89

Ps89

Cof

Cof
Victor and Paul, with their Monster

pcushig

pcushig

His

His

Efny

Efny

sus

sus
I'm going to grind you down to blood and screams.

--Innocent Blood 1992
Rest in Peace, Robert Loggia

wb

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

WZ

WZ

Edfen

Edfen
"Do not enter the city...It belongs to the dead now."

h1

h1
Look behind you!

Bs

Bs
"There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it."
--Alfred Hitchcock

linnea

linnea

Amer

Amer
Taste of metal

The h gang

The h gang

Nlc

Nlc
Old Skool Nostalgia

Hp

Hp

Smoke

Smoke
Got a smoke?

Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

Hill

Hill

Castle

Castle

SRW

"This seems to be the place where the plot begins to thicken..."
--Spooks Run Wild (1941)

Frere and dummy

Frere and dummy

Mlove

Mlove

Alone/dark

"There are no crazy people, doctor. We're all just on vacation."

--Alone in the Dark (1982)

Lips

Lips

Fhz

Fhz

Ph

Ph

Vestron

Vestron
Vintage VHS

sm 3

sm 3

Monique parent

Monique parent
Erotique in Review

Were5

Were5

f13

f13
November 2015

Bmate

Bmate

--Wes Craven

I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that's not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

Ms45 w

Ms45 w

Churcvh

Churcvh
The Church 1989

Ww

Ww
The Whip and the Body 1963

Lsho

"Now, no novacaine....it dulls the senses"

--Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Christopher Lee

Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.

Vampyros lesbos

You are one of us now. The Queen of the Night will bear you up on her black wings

The Unknown 1927

No....not sick. But I have lost some flesh.

Alonzo, the Armless.

Ckvh

Ckvh

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)

Glen: We'd like to speak to the Townsends, please.

The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

Bw5

Bw5

Jill

Jill

Mad Love 1935

Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: Gala - who? Not wanting a statue of him, are you?

Doctor Gogol: I don't want a statue of Galatea. You see, she was a statue herself. Pygmalion formed her. Out of marble, not wax. And then she came to life in his arms.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [calling to his assistant] Start the motor, Henry. There's queer people on the streets of Montmartre at this time of night.

Doctor Gogol: [handing him his card] Here, a hundred francs if you deliver the statue to my house.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [reading card] It's a go, Dr. Go... gol. First thing in the morning.

Edd

Edd

Sh6

Sh6

Bce

Bce

Hc2

Hc2

hal

I met him, fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.

The gang

The gang

Mut

Mut
Mutant 1982

fas

fas
Fascination (1979; d. Jean Rollin)

exorcis

exorcis

Pspo

Pspo

Fpr5

Fpr5
Still not shown in Fth13p2

Ml

Ml

God

God
Grapes of Death

Ipt

Ipt

Nm4

Nm4

Elm

Elm

Cbi

Cbi

He

He

ed 2 11

ed 2 11

girl

girl