When an archaeologist uncovers a strange skull in foreign land, the residents of a near-by town begin to disappear, leading to further inexplicable occurrences.


Ken Russell


Ken Russell (screenplay by), Bram Stoker (adapted from the novel by)
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Amanda Donohoe ... Lady Sylvia Marsh
Hugh Grant ... Lord James D'Ampton
Catherine Oxenberg ... Eve Trent
Peter Capaldi ... Angus Flint
Sammi Davis ... Mary Trent
Stratford Johns ... Peters
Paul Brooke ... P.C. Erny
Imogen Claire Imogen Claire ... Dorothy Trent
Chris Pitt Chris Pitt ... Kevin
Gina McKee ... Nurse Gladwell
Christopher Gable ... Joe Trent
Lloyd Peters Lloyd Peters ... Jesus Christ
Miranda Coe Miranda Coe ... Maid / Nun
Linzi Drew ... Maid / Nun
Caron Anne Kelly Caron Anne Kelly ... Maid / Nun


Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint discovers an odd skull amid the ruins of a convent that he is excavating. Shortly thereafter, Lady Sylvia Marsh returns to Temple House, a nearby mansion, far earlier than expected. At a party in the village, Angus meets Lord James D'Ampton, who has just inherited his family's land right next to Temple House. Angus learns of the D'Ampton Worm, a huge dragon-snake that an earlier D'Ampton killed by cutting it in half. (There's a pretty catchy rock-folk song that tells the D'Ampton Worm legend.) As people begin disappearing and acting strangely over the next few days, the skull is stolen from Angus's room, and the watch of a missing person is found in a cavern that was the legendary home of the D'Ampton worm. Angus and James discover that there was an ancient cult that worshiped the worm as a god, and they theorize that the creature somehow survived its destruction, but it was trapped inside the cavern. The remainder of the movie shows Angus, James, ... Written by Alik Widge

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Horror


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The D'Ampton worm is an obvious reference to the Lambton worm, which is a real English legend, dating back at least to the mediaeval period. See more »


(at around 11 mins) As Mary and Angus walk home through the grove after the party, Lady Sylvia's Jaguar passes them. Startled, Mary comments on the car and mentions its headlights being off, though they were clearly on in every shot of the car.

Mary later states that the headlights were "hooded". Hoods were used in Britain during the Blitz. See more »


Lady Sylvia Marsh: Fancy praying to a god who was nailed to a wooden cross, who locked up his brides in a convent. Did they really enjoy themselves, hmm? Poor little virgins masterbating in the dark and then in penance for their sins indulging in flagellation 'til their bodies wept tears of blood. Captive virgins, hmm, in the hands of an impotent god. Dionin will have none of that, Eve.
See more »


The D'Ampton Worm
Arranged and Performed by Emilio Perez Machado and Stephen Powys
Violinist Louise Newman
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User Reviews

That song sticks in your head for a while.
26 March 2017 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

'Dr. Who' actor Peter Capaldi plays Angus Flint, an archaeology student who unearths a strange skull from the grounds of a bed & breakfast, where a convent had existed once upon a time. Meanwhile, the seductively sexy young Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe) returns to her neighboring home, and more weird things are soon happening. It turns out, there is a local legend in the area, of a nobleman who'd vanquished a hideous reptilian beast - not literally a "worm" - centuries ago. Also mixed up in the plot are that noblemans' descendant, James D'Ampton (Hugh Grant), and lovely sisters Mary (Sammi Davis) and Eve (Catherine Oxenberg).

The director is Ken Russell of such classics as "The Devils", and he also produced and adapted the novel by "Dracula" creator Bram Stoker. So we know going in to expect a fair amount of outrageousness. Fortunately, this film never does get out of control, but it combines some sober drama with some very campy and sometimes hilarious horror. Clearly, it's not meant to be taken all that seriously, especially when we consider the crudely done fantasy sequences envisioned by the characters and the audience. (People who are easily offended will undoubtedly be put off by some of this imagery.) The makeup is amusing, but what's really a hoot is the beast itself, Dionin. Excellent location shooting adds atmosphere.

The actors, commendably, maintain serious expressions. Although he's reputed to refuse to talk about this film, Grant does a good, droll job. Capaldi is a decent hero who, at one point, attempts to attract a reptilian presence by putting on a kilt and playing the bagpipes. Oxenberg and Davis look appropriately scared, Stratford Johns is a solid presence as the butler Peters, and Donohoe, often dressed in very sexy outfits, does appear to be having some real fun as the villainess.

A truly frightening film this is not, but it's quite entertaining just the same.

Eight out of 10.

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Release Date:

21 October 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Lair of the White Worm See more »


Box Office


$2,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$22,155, 23 October 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

White Lair See more »
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Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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