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Blu-Ray : Highly Recommended
Release Date: May 14th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1988

The Lair of the White Worm - Walmart Exclusive SteelBook

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Bryan Kluger
Ken Russell gave birth to snake women and Hugh Grant in The Lair of the White Worm. 40 years later, there's nothing quite like this film that crossed the boundaries of British cinema and inspired future filmmakers to explore the strange, weird, and B-movie sensory of today. The 1080p HD image looks crisp and the DTS-HD 2.0 audio track sounds great. The extras are a blast to watch and listen to. Even though there is nothing new about this release except its Steelbook packaging, this horror-comedy is Highly Recommended!

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Walmart exclusive Blu-ray SteelBook
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
Original English 2.0 Stereo Audio (DTS)
English SDH
Release Date:
May 14th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


The British have always fancied themselves as purveyors of different types of comedy and horror. Still, perhaps they weren't ready for pioneer filmmaker Ken Russell. In the 1970s and '80s, Russell's unique ability to push the bounds of storytelling in his films has stuck with fans and critics alike, and his movies are now regarded as some of the best and most absurdly fun in cinema inspiring generations of new filmmakers. Those absurd moments of comedy and horror spit their venom everywhere in his 1988 memorable flick The Lair of the White Worm which has a very young Doctor Who and A-List star of romantic comedies - Peter Capaldi and Hugh Grant respectively trying to evade serpents and devilish women.

Russell was never shy about showcasing taboo subjects in his movies, something that turned audiences and critics away at times. It wasn't until much later that audiences really began to see the genius in his work, even though his career spans multiple documentaries, musicals, horror, and Oscar-winning productions. Films like The Devils, Tommy with The Who, and Altered States cemented Russell as somewhat of a household name. But at a certain point in his career, her got in bed with Vestron Video and made the Frankenstein tale Gothic. The film did so well that the studios gave Russell more money to create numerous pictures which led to The Lair of the White Worm, loosely based on the Bram Stoker book of the same name.

The British filmmaker wanted to direct his own version of Dracula, but he couldn't get it off the ground, which is why one of his friends recommended he read the book The Lair of the White Worm, resulting in the film we're enjoying today. This movie is an amalgamation of what makes Ken Russell great and edgy. Its comedy bits, on-the-nose scares, and boundary-pushing images allow this piece of art to stand on its own. Taking its cues from the Stoker novel and adding a local legendary tale about a Loch-Ness Monster type of creature - a young archaeologist unearths a large serpent skull at a bed and breakfast run by two young women. This discovery, along with a pocket watch, has the young archaeologists thinking twice about whether this serpent creature is real. As the film plays out, a mysterious woman enters the chat who spits venom on crosses and bites people, thrusting the notion that she is in direct contact with this ancient serpent god. Meanwhile, a houseful of people are being bitten, sliced open, or worse - killed.

With these horror and comedy elements, Russell goes to the moon and back with his shock and awe style of filmmaking. At one point, the characters are dancing, drinking, and singing to a funny rock band on stage, then at the next moment joking about the large skull that was found. Then in a quick flash, a demonic woman spits venom on Jesus hanging on the cross leading to a vision of hell where nuns are praying to Christ being crucified while he's being eaten by a sharp-toothed snake and the nuns are being brutally raped by Roman soldiers with gallons of blood splashing everywhere. Then it's back to the cast playing a serpent version of Chutes and Ladders in lingerie. This is exactly what B-grade Horror/Comedy cinema is all about, but Russell's flamboyant style allows for these unsavory images to be accepted on a wider range due to its tongue-in-cheek nature. This is something he excelled at, even in Tommy and The Devils. And with The Lair of the White Worm, even fanged fellatio is expertly filmed bringing big laughs.

Peter Capaldi and Hugh Grant are a joy to watch in this film. Grant doesn't seem to have aged a day from 1988 through 2008. But it's Amanda Donohoe as the demonic woman who molds this film into a cohesive brand of comedy and horror with her excellent performance. She's sexy, scary, and quite charming as she lures victims into her grasp with her body language, comforting anyone who crosses her path and striking when they least expect it with vigor. The Lair of the White Worm is a wonderfully funny horror movie with a style and gravitas commanding the screen that doesn't usually see the light of day in modern films. Everyone has Ken Russell to thank for this, especially when his 2001: A Space Odyssey metaphors kick into high gear where Hugh Grant dreams of lesbians on a plane making out on the floor and a red pen slowly rises as he watches them wrestle. This is Grade-B cinema at its finest.


Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray 

The Lair of the White Worm slithers its way to Blu-ray in the form of a Steelbook release courtesy of Vestron. This is the same release from a few years ago of the same company, but Vestron's relationship with Walmart has the boutique company re-releasing Stellbooks left and right. It was the White Worm's turn. The sole disc is housed inside a beautiful Steelbook with an insert of a digital code. The artwork on the front features the devilish woman with her snake eyes and fangs with an amazing blue, purple, green, and yellow color palette. The backside features the climax of the movie with the same artistic coloring. Hopefully, future releases will come with collectible booklets. It feels empty without them in Steelbooks. 

Video Review


The Lair of the White Worm comes with a 1080p HD transfer on Blu-ray and is the exact transfer from 2017 through Vestron. This one is just in the form of Steelbook packaging. That video presentation from 2017 was top-notch though for a low-budget film made in England.

The color palette has breathing room for the fiery pits of hell where reds, oranges, and yellows burn bright and bold. The bluish-purple serpent contrasts nicely with those warmer colors. The dark red blood always makes an impact as well. Exteriors and various castle interiors have cooler aesthetics with blues and greens that have neon vibes to them that make this movie feel like the '80s. Black levels are inky and rich and the skin tones are natural.

The detail is sharp and vivid as well, specifically in closeups where hand-made wool sweaters and mittens reveal those individual stitches. Other close-ups show facial pores, hairs, and makeup applications. Steel crosses and rings always have metallic textures that shine. The flashbacks to hell have a stylized old-fashioned detail to them that is gritty and soft. There are no major instances of aliasing, or heavy video noise, but rather a wonderful layer of the grain, keeping that filmic look intact.

Audio Review


This release has the same DTS-HD 2.0 audio track from a few years ago and has some surprisingly big sounds emitting from it. Sound effects of venom spit, snake noises, and cars driving by all sound good and never tin-canny. There's a small bit of heft there as well. The big noises come through during the concert sequence at the beginning of the movie and when Hugh Grant knocks over a drum set. The score reaches great potential during the hellish sequences too. The dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow along with the English subtitles. The standard should be 5.1 these days, but this 2.0 stereo option earns a passing grade.

Special Features


There are no new extras on this set, but the previous ones have all been imported over, including the amazing commentary from Russell and some excellent interviews with the cast and crew. These are definitely worth the time.

  • Audio Commentary #1 - Director Ken Russell delivered a fantastic commentary track before he passed back in 2011 and it's worth the price of admission. This eccentric filmmaker has wonderfully funny stories, info on the cast, and understands the movies he makes, and has a blast with talking about them.
  • Audio Commentary #2 - Ken's fourth wife comes onto the commentary track with Film HIstorian Matthew Melia as they both talk about Ken, this movie, and his career. This is fairly dry and not as fun as the track above.
  • Worm Food (HD, 27 Mins.) - Three visual effects artists discuss the fun practical effects made for the film in detail. These in-depth interviews are a blast.
  • Cutting For Ken (HD, 10 Mins.) - The editor of the film talks about Russell, the movie, and says why Russell usually edited his own movies in reality.
  • Mary, Mary (HD, 16 Mins.) - The actress Sammi Davis recalls her time spent with Russell and this film in a candid, yet funny interview.
  • Trailers From Hell (HD, 3 Mins.) - Producer Dan Ireland has a snippet about the movie for his show.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
  • Still Gallery - Photos from the set, artwork, and more.

Final Thoughts

The Lair of the White Worm is an exploitative comedy horror from England made by the late, great Ken Russell, whose flamboyant directorial style ushered in new ways to showcase stories for fans of B-movies, horror, musicals, and comedy. Almost four decades later, this brilliant and colorful movie about snakes and evil women still works. Plus High Grant and Peter Capaldi should team up again and fight the forces of darkness. The 1080p HD transfer still looks amazing and the DTS-HD 2.0 audio track sounds better than it should. The bonus features are fantastic as well. Highly Recommended!

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