23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2010
Scottish student of archaeology Angus Flint(Peter Capaldi) is excavating the ruins of a convent in the Derbyshire hills, when he uncovers a large skull of an unknown animal. Angus is puzzled to its origin as he finds Roman coins and a mosaic portraying a giant snake in the same site. When attending a party in the village, Angus encounters James d'Ampton(Hugh Grant), a descendant of a previous Lord of the manor who slayed a fearsome snake like dragon by cutting it in two. The current d'Ampton believes the skull to be related to the legend. Meanwhile Lady Sylvia Marsh(Amanda Donohue) returns unexpectedly to her stately home called Temple House. Soon, the skull has been stolen and the two sisters that Angus is lodging with are put in terrible danger, as an ancient evil reaches out to the present day, needing a human sacrifice to ressurect a powerful pagan god from its slumber.
When a was a young boy I was given a book about mysterious beasties of legend. One of my favourite stories in that book concerned the legend of the Lambton worm. This legend formed the basis of a story written by Dracula author Bram Stoker, which was in turn adapted into this barmy film by Ken Russell.
Of course, with this being a Russell film, theres not much subtlety on dispay, but quite a lot of naked flesh can be found here. Also present are the usual trippy dream sequences involving religious and sexual imagery. Its also completely bonkers, but you would have to be a complete killjoy not to be drawn into its crazy splendour. Grant is even posher than usual here, but he gives a very likeable performance. Donohue hardly underplays her role either, delivering every line with camp relish. Capaldi is great as heroic Angus, who even has a mongosse lurking under his kilt in case of emergencies, and its great to see Stratford Johns at his pithy best as d'Ampton's butler. Sammi Davis is also great as gutsy Mary Trent, and the only letdown is Catherine Oxenburg's performance as Mary's sister Eve, a pivotal role, but a limp performance. The other main points of note are some excellent cinematography and an excellent dreamlike music score.
Anyway, this is a great tongue in cheek horror, hugely entertaining and really quite unique. The German DVD release has a very nice picture transfer, removeable German subtitles, but no real extras, apart from a couple of trailers and a chapter menu. 5 out of 5 for the film though.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I have a weakness. Well, several actually, and this hysterical, delirious, bonkers film is one of them. 93' of almost continual fun and smiles. Bad acting from everyone, but with script and scenario they couldn't do anything but be bad. Sammi Davis and Catherine Oxenberg lokk good tho, and as for Amanda Donohoe...she must have had a ball (literally perhaps?). Her cossies are wonderful and she exudes fun and sex. Grant and Capaldi...well what can I say? Nothing is best. Its a romp. Just go with Russell's flow and don't worry. This Artizan release is a good price and good all round quality. Recomended for a dark night and a bottle of wine, or whatever.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
After seeing Ken's The Devils again after many year's gap and of course, his passing from this world to the next (what WILL he make of that, whichever direction he goes - the jury are still out on that one!) I'm making a real point of seeing all this work, as finances and availability allows. Divisive and forthright film critic Mark Kermode always cited Russell as being Britain's greatest living Director - he may need to amend the phrasing of that one...now.
From beautifully crafted period romps (Women In Love, The Boyfriend, Valentino), Rock Opera (Tommy) to possibly his finest works, his biographical tributes to the great composers (Mahler, The Music Lovers - forget Lizstomania, truly awful), one spirals downwards into the deep recesses of Ken's imagination. Altered States, The Devils of course and now, this, only available it seems imported from Germany, The Lair....
Starting out quite typically as a 1970's Hammer-style shock-flick, with an array of UK actors who've, shall we say, moved onto other projects, we have the innoccous archaeologist (Scot Peter Capaldi) unearthing the skull of the said beast, the film seems innocent and restrained enough.
Within half an hour though, an extremely well-toned and lithe Amanda Donahue who has a boy scout in her bathtub, pushing his head under with a devilishly high-heeled black stiletto, whilst dressed in the slinkiest of black satin underwear. Here, we have both temptress and preying mantis and one, as male, red-blooded viewer feels total satisfaction already for the £11 spent on the DVD.
Hugh Grant, is of course, the local landowner and jolly toff, with squiffy hair and clipped voice and Lady Marsh's (Donahue) neighbour, so he pops in.
To be honest, I'm not in it for the story and don't care too much if there isn't one. That said, there's a fair stab at one, which I might follow more closely when I get to watch the film again, in a year or two. With reviews ranging from dire to poor and back again, I was almost dreading watching it at all. But, it is very well made, the DVD transfer bright and crisp and has plenty of Ken's hallucinary sequences, which are often more akin to choreographed theatre (check out the Concorde flight stewardess sequence) than some of his more phallic grotesque 'creations' in some other films.
Some of the deeper nightmare sequences are Dali-esque, with moving montages, that these days look a bit rubbish, but Ken didn't have digital manipulation software to stitch them neatly together.
So, overall, if you've travelled down the road that is Ken Russell and like me, got this far, this IS a worthy addition.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2007
It's hard to imagine in these days of mega-violence and stomach-turning gore just how contentious and controversial Ken Russell's films were back in his day.
He's stated in interviews that all his films are comedies and you can take him at his word on that, but critics just don't get it. He hit one with a rolled up newspaper on a tv show, which prompted the self-same critic (and renowned Russell-basher) to famously proclaim in print: "Get me an elephant gun, this man must be stopped!"
It's easy to see why these people detest Russell. He's been goading them for decades. Grabbing what little money he could from the ever-so-worthy British film industry and making mad, tragi-comic films about VERY serious and highbrow composers and artists taking drugs, getting drunk, taking their clothes off and running screaming around beautifully lit country houses in eye-bulging fits.
Russell doesn't like factual bi-opics and faithful adaptations, he likes making it up as he goes along - believing the spirit of the person or work in question is far more important than insignificant details - ie, facts. Your standard Time Out reading intellectual and particularly the classical world cognoscenti don't see the funny side of this AT ALL.
If you're in on the joke though, you're in for a treat. 'LOTWW' is seen as a 'lesser' Russell work but I think it's one of his best. Based on a story by Bram Stoker, it's a hoary old tale of vampires/reptiles/pagan gods etc, but you've never seen it done like this before.
The cast are obviously in on the joke, particularly dishy Amanda Donahoe as the chief villainess. Slinky and seductive (with a wardrobe to match!) she slithers her way magnificently through scene and scenery in her characters admirable quest to resurrect an age-old pagan snake god by means of human sacrifice.
Hugh Grant (in a fantastic coat) gives his best performance as the playboy lord of the manor who's ancestor originally slew the titular beast and sees himself similarly responsible to 'scotch the bugger' again.
Jokes/homage/pastiches come thick and fast: a 'Citizen Kane' reference; a 'Tommy' joke involving Grant and a drum kit; Hammer Films; David Lean; 'Cleopatra' etc etc ~ in fact, like most of Russell's films, it's a movie-buff's dream - and, like the man himself, a complete one-off.
And yes, there's gore and shocks as well. Mass impaling (of nuns); Roman pillaging (of nuns); some sadistic dialogue paraphrasing 'the Devils' (about nuns!); a brilliantly low-budget eye-gouging (no nuns..!?), and a dream sequence on a plane, with Donohoe and Catherine Oxenberg dressed as air-hostesses, who..well, you'll have to see that for yourselves. Enough to say, Russell's firmly on home turf and doesn't disappoint.
Also starring the excellent Sammi Davis, brave heart Peter Capaldi, a startlingly good cameo from the late Stratford Johns as a snarky butler, as well as a smattering of Russell stock regulars from his 70's heyday snaked in for good measure. All superb.
It's a shame Russell didn't do more stuff like this (his revered 'Dracula' script is without doubt the script I'd most like to hear he's finally filmed) and it does show what can be achieved on a low budget if you have some-one with vision and imagination in the cockpit.
'LOTWW' makes a great double-bill with the same directors 'Gothic', another gem damned by faint-praise, but a rattling good ride despite it all.
Stoker could never have envisaged his creation being presented this way, but secretly, in his starched-collar, stoic Victorian way, I think he would approve.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 29 February 2004
Bit of an old one, some quite good imagery including a graphic nun and roman gladiator sequence and a dream sequence involving Hugh Grant’s girlfriend and Amanda Donohoe dressed up as Air Stewardesses rolling round on the floor while he sits there watching and getting a tad hot under the collar. Well worth the money. The end sequence is hilarious with the dispatching of the said white worm.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2014
Just something to be aware of when buying this product if you an English (only) speaking customer, the menu options are all in Spanish, as is all the language on the dvd cover. Also when I played the dvd for the first time the actors were all speaking in Spanish so for a minute I thought id mis-read the product information.
To get everyone speaking English again you will need to go into the bottom option on the first menu screen and change it back to the original version and everyone will now be speaking English again. Other than that the product seems ok.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2013
Hugely underrated comedy horror film. One of the few to make the English landscape as sinister as we expect the Transylvanian to be.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2014
Good quality DVD received quickly and to specifications. I noted the German (with English language option) however you need to read and understand German to get to the appropriate English option which took a few moments.. Otherwise good result and great film..
on 14 June 2015
A really bizarre and surreal film with Peter Capaldi and Hugh Grant; this film is adapted Bram Stoker's novel - the plot revolves around a huge skull discovered by an archaeologist that leads him to an ancient snake/monster, which intermittently emerges from its cavern in the Derbyshire hills to feed on humans; two sisters' are searching for their parents, who have unwittingly become ensnared. Oh and Hugh Grant plays a rich landowner and joins in the hunt for the parents.
Oddly entertaining, and laughable in parts. Don't expect anything too serious.
on 22 June 2012
the lair of the white worm - amanda donohoe is a stunning, sizzling, sexual lady snake and there are a few great bits of surrussellism, but it barely hangs itself together. it is a charming titbit but does not have the substance which ken russell's better films have. rather like the boy scout's experience, it is all foreplay with a knowing sense of humour and no more.
dvd - fine.