The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Lady Sylvia Marsh in a white suit holding a glass of red wine and laughing.

This was the first time I’d seen this film since being a teen. Eve Trent and her sister, Mary, are running a B&B in the Peak District after the mysterious disappearance of their parents the year before. Archaeologist guest Angus uncovers a monstrous skull in their garden, to the great interest of their suddenly returned neighbour Lady Sylvia Marsh. Landowner Lord James D’Ampton is a descendent of the knight who killed the mythical White Worm in the nearby caves, so when the skull is stolen from the Trent’s house, he takes an interest.

What a difference thirty years makes. It’s camp horror fun with a nasty edge. I taped this off the TV back in the day and watched certain bits over and over on a fuzzy screen trying to work out exactly what was going on. Naked nuns and Amanda Donohoe were going on, of course, but that’s what being in the sticks in the eighties was like. Stimulation was scarce. But as a film, it was dull — not scary, the plot made no sense, and it felt like a comedy failing to be funny. I WAS SO WRONG.

Perhaps I’m being dazzled by the creative will that brought the low budget films I’m watching this year into existence, but I found this to be joyful, anarchic, erotic, disgusting, surreal — qualities I don’t find in many modern films. Ken Russell was a genius.

All films in 2023’s #31DaysofHorror…