With the continuing nostalgia for most-things Eighties, one can only hope that some of the more unusual cult films of that era will be rediscovered in this New Year. A director certainly ready for rediscovery is British filmmaker Ken Russell (The Who's Tommy, Altered States, and many others). While well-known by film aficionados, I suspect that there are a number of college students who would appreciate his eccentric, sexually charged storytelling--college is where I first came across his literary-based films. While studying British Luterature I came across Gothic (1986) about the night that prompted Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and, later, The Lair of the White Worm (1988).
Lambton Worm. Written and directed by Russell, Lair stars then-TV starlets Amanda Donohoe (L.A. Law) and Catherine Oxenberg (Dynasty), as well as a very young Hugh Grant (About A Boy, Bridget Jones Diary). Of more modern interest might be the co-starring turn by a young Scot named Peter Capaldi, who was just recently been selected to play BBC TV icon Dr. Who.
I hadn't watched Lair in its entirety in almost 20 years, so was excited to come across it on Netflix a few nights ago. I am even more pleased to share that it has aged fairly well. Being an update (of sorts) of an even older story probably helped, as did Russell's tongue in-cheek approach to what he considered his "horror film." For many reasons, his experimental horror film was ahead of its time (and ours). Russell's clearly anti-Christian bent would be hard pressed in our more conservative culture (regardless of what talking heads say about "left wing media") to secure financial backing in our more modern cinema. Russell always was one to push the boundaries of acceptable content (Whore, anyone?) and the use of psychedelic visuals (the background on the poster to the right does appear n the film) and depictions of crazed pagan nude dancing and simulated sex would be late-night SyFy horror in lesser-skilled hands.
|Peter Capaldi, the new Doctor Who, as Scottish archaeology student Angus Flint.|
|Lady Marsh (Amanda Donohoe) get's freaky during a hallucination.|