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The Lair of the White Worm (Walmart Exclusive) (Blu-ray SteelBook Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

An archeologist unearths the skull of a strange beast which also unearths the connection to a weird cult and people disappearing.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Ken Russell directed this dark comedy horror film, The Lair of the White Worm, loosely based on the final novel from Bram Stoker, that also served as one of the earliest films for stars Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Peter Capaldi (TV’s Doctor Who). It is said that Hugh Grant is embarrassed about his role in this low budget film, but he should not be so quick to abandon this quirky guilty pleasure.

Like a fever dream that mates Buñuel with Dalí, the story begins when Scottish archeologist Angus Flint (Capaldi) discovers a strange skull of an unknown beast. Soon Angus befriends Lord James D’Ampton (Grant), who is connected to a local myth of a knight who once slayed a dragon, possibly where the skull came from. Now the reclusive and seductive Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe) returns to her home early, which begins to reveal a strange cult surrounding a pagan god, and deaths begin to mount – maybe connected to the cult and Sylvia.

Russell throws everything into this film, from wild orgiastic visions, BDSM, torture sequences, seductions, and allusions to Scheherazade. His command over the budget is commendable, using everything he can to squeeze out something memorable and watchable, such as using a VCR tape with traffic to project effects in rear window of a car and have someone with a hose spray water on the window to mimic a car driving through rain.

While the film feels a bit disjointed, the various subplots work best as shocking set pieces that are undeniably shock worthy and inventive. The cast do an excellent job with the campy material, especially Donohoe who is sexy, scary, and wry in her role.

Purchase The Lair of the White Worm (Walmart Exclusive) Blu-ray SteelBook

  • Amanda Donohoe and Chris Pitt in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Amanda Donohoe in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Amanda Donohoe in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Hugh Grant, Peter Capaldi, and Sammi Davis in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Amanda Donohoe in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Amanda Donohoe in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Amanda Donohoe and Catherine Oxenberg in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Catherine Oxenberg in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Catherine Oxenberg in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • Amanda Donohoe in The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
  • The Lair of the White Worm Blu-ray SteelBook (Lionsgate)
  • The Lair of the White Worm Blu-ray SteelBook (Lionsgate)
  • The Lair of the White Worm Blu-ray SteelBook (Lionsgate)

The Video

The Lair of the White Worm comes in a digitally remastered 1.78:1 AVC 1080p encodement on Blu-ray. This is a difficult film to judge the quality for being a low budget film with a lot of practical effects and some sequences being shot on video, some on anamorphic 35mm. The video sequences, most of them quite surreal and dreamlike, obviously are lower in quality and resolution, but presented as well as they can be. The 35mm bulk of the film looks natural if a little soft and at times murky, but free from unnatural effects like DNR.

The Audio

The original stereo mix for The Lair of the White Worm is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. This is a fine audio presentation with exceptionally wide stereo imaging that makes you not miss a surround mix. Sounds like rainfall, for instance, almost wrap around you, the 1980s musical soundtrack has good midrange punch and high end that is easy on the ears.

The Supplements

Previously released special features are on the disc including two audio commentaries and a number of interviews. The disc is housed in an exclusive SteelBook with art by Vance Kelly.

Bonus Features:

  • Digital Copy Code
  • Audio Commentary with Director Ken Russell
  • Audio Commentary with Lisi Russell, in Conversation with Film Historian Matthew Melia
  • Worm Food – Interviews with Special Effects Artists Geoffrey Portass, Neil Gorton, and Paul Jones (1080p; 00:27:08)
  • Cutting for Ken – An Interview with Editor Peter Davies (1080p; 00:09:32)
  • Trailers from Hell Featuring Producer Dan Ireland (1080p; 00:02:45)
  • Mary, Mary – An Interview with Actress Sammi Davis (1080p; 00:15:42)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:02:11)
  • Still Gallery (1080p; 00:02:59)

The Final Assessment

This beautifully crafted exclusive SteelBook from Lionsgate with a – if not great – satisfying transfer of this little known cult film offers a chance for this underground darkly comedic horror to find new audiences and to be reexamined.


The Lair of the White Worm (Walmart Exclusive) Blu-ray SteelBook is out May 14, 2024 from Lionsgate

Purchase The Lair of the White Worm (Walmart Exclusive) Blu-ray SteelBook


  • Rating Certificate: R
  • Studios & Distributors: White Lair | Vestron Pictures | Lionsgate Home Entertainment
  • Director: Ken Russell
  • Written By: Ken Russell | Bram Stoker (Novel)
  • Run Time: 94 Mins.
  • Street Date: 14 May 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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An archeologist unearths the skull of a strange beast which also unearths the connection to a weird cult and people disappearing. The Lair of the White Worm (Walmart Exclusive) (Blu-ray SteelBook Review)