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The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

1:38 | Trailer
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 & 3 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?


Contains 2 future Dr. Who Doctors. Peter Capaldi became the Doctor in Season 7 and Hugh Grant also played the Doctor in the BBC short special 'Comic Relief: Doctor Who - The Curse of Fatal Death' See more »


The snakes used in the film are not native to the United Kingdom nor are they venomous. See more »


Lady Sylvia Marsh: I change my cars as regularly as a snake sheds its skin.
See more »


Featured in Ken Russell: A Bit of a Devil (2012) 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

Doesn't every Scottish archaeologist own a mongoose and a hand grenade?
20 October 2013 | by BA_HarrisonSee all my reviews

Before Hugh Grant hit the big-time playing floppy-haired fops in rom-coms, he mostly played floppy haired-fops in costume period dramas; an exception to this was Ken Russell's The Lair of The White Worm (1988), in which Hugh went against type by playing modern-day floppy-haired fop Lord James D'Ampton, who teams up with archaeologist Angus Flint (played by the new Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi) and B&B owner Mary Trent (Sammi Davis) to defeat a pagan snake-woman (Amanda Donohoe) who worships a giant, ancient, subterranean wyrm (another name for dragon).

This being a Russell movie, there is plenty of surreal weirdness on offer, with psychedelic dream sequences, Christian-baiting blasphemous imagery, phallic symbolism, and cheap titillation courtesy of Donohoe, who spends a lot of her time naked, and Catherine Oxenberg, who is stripped to her undies as a sacrifice for the creature. However, what could have been extremely controversial actually proves to be rather amusing thanks to the director's tongue-in-cheek B-movie approach (some might call it 'camp') and the tacky special effects; ultimately, this is silly, harmless fun for the cult movie crowd.

6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for the Concorde dream sequence, which is downright trippy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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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


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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