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THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM (1988) – Episode 194 – Decades of Horror 1980s

“Oh, good! So you’ve taken to our local specialty. Pickled earthworms in aspic is not to everyone’s taste, I can tell you.” By the way, aspic is a savory jelly made with meat stock, set in a mold, and used to contain pieces of meat, seafood, eggs, or, apparently, earthworms. Sound better now? Join your faithful Grue-Crew – Crystal Cleveland, Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr –  as they take a trip into the bizarre world of Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm (1988).

Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 194 – The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

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


The Lair of the White Worm is Crystal’s pick, but alas, she was unavailable and we had to go ahead without her. Chad’s first impression is along the lines of, “It’s a Ken Russell movie alright.” It starts with finding a skull in the field and just keeps getting weirder and weirder and more phallic and weirder and more phallic and… Bill is a big fan of Russell’s Altered States (1980) and loves this weird, 1980s slice of Ken Russell with its neat, little take on the legend of the Lampton Worm (D’Ampton Worm, get it?). In his view, the best thing about The Lair of the White Worm is Amanda Donahoe. Sammi Davis’s performance was an unexpected treat for Jeff and he loved the commonsense approach to fighting the “snake people.” Rather than a high priest reading an incantation from a volume of forgotten lore, the film’s heroes resort to snake-charming with a bagpipe, followed by releasing a mongoose and throwing a hand grenade, both having been hidden in Angus’s (Peter Capaldi) sporran.

If you’re in the mood for some Ken Russell bizarre hallucinations/dream sequences, gratuitous nudity, and what-the-f***ery, The Lair of the White Worm should be just the ticket. At the time of this writing, The Lair of the White Worm is available to stream on Amazon Prime and a variety of other free-with-ads or PPV services, as well as on physical media as a Blu-ray from Vestron Video and Lionsgate.

Every two weeks, Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1980s podcast will cover another horror film from the 1980s. The next episode’s film, chosen by Chad, will be Neon Maniacs (1986). Here on Decades of Horror 1980s, we do love films with “maniac” in the title. 

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Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.