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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Lair of the White Worm
The Lair of the White Worm
Artisan // R // August 19, 2003
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jason Bovberg | posted September 8, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

Let's get this out of the way right now—I can't think of any reason for this DVD to exist. Lair of the White Worm has already been released in a more-than-acceptable special edition, back in 1999, that contained a pretty good anamorphic-widescreen image and a very entertaining, egocentric commentary from director Ken Russell. Inexplicably, this release, also from Artisan, drops all the original edition's (admittedly modest) special features and even presents slightly less impressive image quality. This is definitely a skippable DVD.

That being said, Lair of the White Worm is one of the strangest films you're likely to see, so I encourage you to seek out the original Artisan/Pioneer release. What a weird, psychedelic horrorshow this is! Based incredibly loosely on a story by Bram Stoker, White Worm is filled with monster vampire worms, surreal nightmare imagery, and a very naked Amanda Donohoe (LA Law, Liar Liar) as Lady Sylvia Marsh, chewing up the scenery with terrific verve. There's also everyman James D'Ampton (Hugh Grant), discovering an outrageous archeological secret in the wilds of Scotland, largely in the form of an unusual fossil.

No encapsulation of plot can do justice to this wild ride. I suggest you simply plop in the DVD—that is, the previous release—and let it wash over you like a fever nightmare. It helps to have the benefit of some kind of perception-altering substance swimming through your system, and I suspect Ken Russell might even agree with that advice. You'll laugh throughout the entire film, but at some base level, it will also disturb. I mean, it's got a vampiress whose bite falls below the belt. Yikes.

HOW'S IT LOOK?

Artisan presents Lair of the White Worm in an okay anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation. It's watchable, but it has all the flaws that the previous release had, and even a few more. This is a very grainy image with smeary colors and a general softness. Blacks are deep but perhaps too deep. And the print itself is marred by dirt and specks.

HOW'S IT SOUND?

The DVD's Dolby Digital 2.0 track is a pretty flat presentation, in tune with the image quality. Dialog is fairly clear, if lacking in the high end. At the very high end, the track tends toward distortion and harshness. Surround activity is nonexistent.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE?

Nothing at all—a big letdown, considering the previous release contained an excellent, unintentionally hilarious commentary by Ken Russell.

WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?

Avoid this release at all costs and instead seek out the original Artisan/Pioneer release.

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