Lair of the White Worm [1988]

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg, Peter Capaldi, Sammi Davis
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 93 minutes

Wittily updated from one of Dracula author Bram Stoker's lesser-known horror novels, The Lair of the White Worm is a camp classic that only Ken Russell could have delivered. It's got all the perversity one expects from the bombastic director of Tommy and Altered States: sensible plotting, intelligent dialogue laced with double entendre, graphic imagery with Boschian intensity, and a mischievous disregard for good taste and decorum. In other words, it's heretically hilarious, especially when skeptical Lord D'Ampton (fresh-faced Hugh Grant, in one of his earliest films) begins to suspect that seductive neighbor Sylvia (Amanda Donohoe, game for anything) is connected to the local legend of a monstrous serpent that feeds on sacrificial virgins. Evidence mounts with the help of a local archaeologist (Peter Capaldi) and two endangered sisters (Catherine Oxenberg, Sammi Davis), and Russell infuses Stoker's grisly plot with his inimitable brand of blasphemy, including a gouged eyeball, a venom-splattered crucifix, Roman soldiers raping nuns (in a delirious hallucination sequence), and some of the funniest one-liners since Young Frankenstein. Prudes beware; everyone else…enjoy! --Jeff Shannon

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