The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

35mm film, Technicolor, 1.85:1

An American/British horror film directed by Ken Russell.

Plot Summary

An archaeology student working on the site of an ancient convent in Derbyshire discovers a strange skull which seems to be that of the d'Hampton worm, a giant snake of local mythology and comes to believe that the creature is real and still living in nearby . Lady Sylvia, the immortal priestess of the snake god Dionin, steals the skull and prepares to sacrifice a young woman to her god.


* = uncredited

Directed by: Ken Russell
© Vestron Pictures Inc. MCMLXXXVIII [1988]
Vestron Pictures present a Ken Russell film. White Lair *
Executive Producers: William J. Quigley and Dan Ireland
Produced by: Ken Russell
Line Producer: Ronaldo Vasconcellos
Screenplay by: Ken Russell
Adapted from the Novel by: Bram Stoker
Director of Photography: Dick Bush
Editor: Peter Davies
Music Composed by: Stanislas Syrewicz
Sound Mixer: Ray Beckett
Costume Designer: Michael Jeffery
Chief Make-up Artist: Pam Meager
Hairdresser: Karen Edwards
Special Make-Up & Creature Effects by: Image Animation
Designer: Geoff Portass
Special Effects Supervisor: Alan Whibley
Art Director: John Ralph
Filmed on location in England [Gaddesden Place, Hertfordshire; Knebworth House, Hertfordshire; Peak District National Park, Derbyshire] and at Cannon Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire
Casting Director: Gail Stevens

Amanda Donohoe (Lady Sylvia Marsh)
Hugh Grant (Lord James D'Ampton)
Catherine Oxenberg (Eve Trent)
Peter Capaldi (Angus Flint)
Sammi Davis as Mary Trent
Stratford Johns (Peters)
Paul Brooke (P.C. Erny)
Imogen Claire (Dorothy Trent)
Chris Pitt (Kevin)
Gina McKee (Nurse Gladwell)
Christopher Gable (Joe Trent)
Lloyd Peters (Jesus Christ)
Miranda Coe, Linzi Drew, Caron Anne Kelly, Fiona O'Connor, Caroline Pope, Elisha Scott, Tina Shaw (maids/nuns)
Paul Easom, James Hicks, David Kiernan, Matthew King, Ross Murray, Andy Norman, Bob Smith (soldiers/witchdoctors
Jackie Russell (snakewoman)

Alternative Titles

Der Biss der Schlangenfrau – West Germany
A Fehér féreg búvóhelye – Hungary
La guarida del gusano blanco – Spain
Jardim do Mal
– Portugal
Legenden om den vita ormen
– Sweden
A Maldição da Serpente
– Brazil
Le Repaire du ver blanc
– France

Extracts included in
Bride of Monster Mania (2000)
A British Picture (1989)



  • Interzone no.29 (May/June 1989) p.26 – review (by Nick Lowe)
  • Interzone no.206 (October 2006) p.52 – review (by Nick Lowe)
  • Première July 1989 p.23 – review (by Thierry Decourcelle)
  • Strange Adventures vol.2 no.7 (no.19 August 1990) pp.16-18 – illustrated article (Film folk by Kevin Lyons)
  • Studio July 1989 p.24 – review (by Catherine Wimphen)


  • Aurum Encyclopaedia of Film: Horror (2nd edition) p.435 – credits, review
  • Cinematic Vampires by John L. Flynn pp.285-286
  • Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914-2008 by Bruce G. Hallenbeck pp.163-166; 222 – illustrated review; credits
  • Educational Institutions in Horror Film: A History of Mad Professors, Student Bodies, and Final Exams by Andrew L. Grunzke pp.25
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.5, 280, 13
  • The Films of the Eighties by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.315
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films IV by Donald C. Willis p.279
  • Horror Films of the 1980s by John Kenneth Muir pp.672-674 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review