Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Horror Of...The Lair of the White Worm (1988)



Even though it is Spring, it's still an ideal time for some HORROR. And what better than a story that gets us out and walking in nature? A story about an altogether unnatural bit of nature? A story with sex and violence and a bit of Doctor Who to it?

So while I could go about in these ever warming temps and look for some snakes, let's look for a serpent of a different scale all the way back in 1988. Yes. It is time to delve into the rather strange tale of The Lair of the White Worm.


This is the tame part of this scene in the movie.
The Lair of the White Worm (which I'll be abbreviating from here on out) is an entertaining outing by the somewhat well known director Ken Russell. I'll be honest. I don't really know much of anything about the fellow. He has a certain style and taste, and it isn't something I seem interested in. So beyond the fact he's using a few actors that he's worked with in other film...eh. Not much else to say about him. He has some curious choices as a director and does seem to enjoy delving (and provoking) when it comes to sex and religion.

And that does mean there are aspects of this movie that aren't for everyone in the audience. The movie makes heavy use of sexual imagery. Also violence. And rape. So, yeah, fair warning. It can create some odd and surreal scenes, but they are most definitely not for all audiences. And when he manages to weave religion into there...It won't be for everyone.


But we are delving into a world of worms. Worms? Well as terminology goes. We have snakes and serpents, and that leads into dragons and worms. Worms, or wyrms, is the Germanic and Celtic term for dragons and serpents. Dragons, from Draco, is the Greek and Latin term. Obviously, for most of us dragon is the go to terminology. Still, in this movie. They are worms.

 Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain.
The dragon is ever a classic piece of storytelling. It's use varies around the world. But for this movie we are focused on the variety made use of in tales from Europe and the British Isles. There it has often been the eater of virgins, the hoarder of treasure, and the symbol of... Well, sometimes it's a symbol of a family, or a respected people, or a hated people. In Arthurian legend there is a dream of a great red dragon and a great white dragon in conflict. The red dragon was Briton. The white dragon was the Saxons.

And speaking of dreaded white dragons. The White Worm! The name of this movie is derived from a story of the same name, written by Bram Stoker. Have to honest and say that I have not been particularly drawn to this story. There seem to be at least some consensus that it's not a particularly good tale. But if you disagree, feel free to counter.

The tale is of a struggle over control of the Caswall Estate. There's a mysterious Ms. March (Who becomes Marsh in this movie.) who serves a giant white worm living in caverns under her home. And in the end the beast is destroyed in it's lair with dynamite, while the heroes face off against the creatures more mortal servants.

Stoker and Russell's works share a number of similarities. But the movie does seem to be a more entertaining take. The larger structure and certain archetypes remain, but a surreal and campy approach make for a more welcome way to spend your time.

Both the Stoker tale and this movie make use of existing folklore in the United Kingdom. Particularly, the story of the Lambton Worm. This worm was said to have been caught by the young Lord Lambton while he was out fishing on Sunday morning (which is a bad thing). He caught the worm when it was small, and ended up throwing it down a well. Time passes, and the beastie grows massive. And the day comes when the lord, older and more sober must finally face and slay the monster it has become. This is the background of the movie as well. At least it's the tale the locals tell of the worm.

Also a song about the Lambton Worm ends up making it's way into the film, and is treated as a song about the film's horror. The D'Ampton Worm.

Let's get to know our worm, and his mean protagonistic opponents.



The film's cast fills the movie with a fun sensibility. You have an interesting assortment.

"Have we met before?"

Angus Flint is the main character of sorts. He's a Scottish archaeology student who's in the area studying some Roman ruins outside the local Bed and Breakfast. He ends up finding an altogether unexpected zoological find. A massive serpent skull. From there things start to go mental.

Flint is played by Peter Capaldi. Now he's famous for being the Doctor on Doctor Who. But he also can be found in The Thick Of It, In The Loop, and Neverwhere. He's always an enjoyable actor to find in any show or movie.

And always dashing,

Having Capaldi,a Doctor Who actor, here is so apt. The movie gives us a monster, an isolated spot in England, quasi-vampires, and Capaldi as a science character trying to suss things out. You could easily pretend this was a weird 70's episode of the show.

"Clara! ...You changed your...sweater?"

And did I mention he's Scottish? Doctor Who will fail us all if we never see, like this movie, Capaldi In A Kilt. Kilt? Come on!

And The Proclaimers should be playing!


"Caw blimey...ladies."
The movie also offers us a young and very very British Lord James D'Ampton. His family is tied to the tale of the D'Ampton worm. It's said his ancestor slew the beast. What will the current lord do?

D'Ampton is played by Hugh Grant. Grant is a Go To when you want someone who is very very British. Sadly he hasn't really done a lot of horror. But he has played the Doctor, like Capaldi. In his case it was in the comedy special The Curse of Fatal Death. I do also have to suggest seeing him in The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

In this movie he is the very very British lord. Charming. Rich. Titled. And, a military man. He's largely following in the family line. He also has an odd dream/vision where the female characters of the movie dress as flight attendants and have a cat fight...Did I mention this movie has sexual issues.

"I'll drink to that."


Then we get to Ladyy Sylvia Marsh. She's the owner of the Temple House, which lies between the Bed and Breakfast and D'Ampton Manor. A curious and libertine person, she is our deadly feminine foe. A creature of the D'Ampton worm (It's name is Dionin, her god.). She's the priestess that oversees the creature, and feeds (sacrifices to) it. She also has impeccable fashion sense.

The character is great fun. A villain that is matter of fact, while also tongue in cheek. She has a job to do, and she has long enjoyed it. She has been in residence in the area since before even the D'Ampton family.

I guess snakes also mark their territory.



She's played by the always engaging Amanda Donohoe. She's one of the film's actors who has a history with the writer/director.

Her character is the most dangerous force in the movie. When it comes to the leading cause of death in the movie she either directly acting, or moving the pieces around, most of the time.

Her character is a vampire, of sorts. Much like Doctor Who and it's various vamps, the movie gives us characters with fangs, that feast on humans, and turn people with a bite...sometimes. Sometimes it just paralyzes them, so they can be given up to the worm. Sometimes they become a hissing fiend.

Ceremonial paint, or actual form. I have no idea.
Donohoe has fun camping up her character, with her overtly sexual ways and agenda to seduce and kill those that she needs to. A good menacing baddie is fun. And one that relishes their role in the world can be quite entertaining.

And in the role Marsh/Donohoe give us a character that is vamping it all up. She also is feeding us most of the altogether unsubtle allusions to sex.

Marsh seems to have been around since the Romans controlled the region, leading her cult in it's worship. And through the centuries she's continued in her role, keeping the old ways alive (And the old god.).


"If this was Midsomer, we wouldn't have snake monster." "If
this was Midsomer, we''d have more dead bodies."
Our other main characters are Eve Trent and Mary Trent, played by Catherine Oxenberg and Sammi Davis. The pair are sisters who run the local bed and breakfast. The year before their parents vanished. What they don't know is that they are victims of Lady Marsh, who now makes use of them in her machinations.


And we should give a shout out to our other character in the movie. Constable Erny. He's played by a very good character actor, Paul Brooke (Phantom of the Opera - multiple, Return of the Jedi, Blackadder, Campion, Marple). He's the local police force. He first meets Marsh's return (She likes to slither off when winter comes.). He helps search for the Trent parents. And he is a victim of Marsh when he becomes a problem. Then he becomes a problem for the rest.

But it leads to this fight.

"You canna best a piper!"


As the story progresses, D'Ampton comes to realize that some dangerous force is at work. In part this is thanks to visions he has that, literally, connect the dots for him. Then he and Flint try various means to drive off and defeat the creature, and it's worshipers. Snake charm music. Bagpipes. Swords. Smoke. Finally, a grenade. But will it be enough to extinguish this millennia old blight?

All the while Marsh, and her ilk, are snaking it up. Punning. Moving like a charmed snake when the right music is played. Hanging out in sunbeds (Cause snakes love heat.).Going all fangs and red eyes. No local constable, boy scout, or local virgin is safe from their plotting. After so long, is this the end for Marsh?

For me, the way it ends offers up the interesting possibility of a sequel. A one final battle for Lord D'Ampton against the Horror the White Worm has brought his lands. (But that never came to be.) Watch the movie and see what you think.


"What could I represent,
viewers at home?"
The movie is not a subtle efforts. I joked to myself at the start of the film that a long shot of a large cave opening was an accidental metaphor for the vagina. Then I watched more and more of this film. From the vision of the destruction of nunnery to the dildo/sacrificial weapon of Lady Marsh...This movie isn't trying to be subtle in the least. They even play Snakes and Ladders (It's the original name of the game Chutes and Ladders) in the movie.



Freud once said (Or so it's claimed.) that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. This movie is an attempt to refute that idea.

You either enjoy the mix of the giant snake in the ground trying to get out (More symbolism!), the campy villain, very British and Scottish leads, surreal and ridiculous imagery, and some troubling sexual imagery, or you don't. I can only assume this movie is not uniquely divisive in the director's cinematic retinue.

But if you are in the mood for such a mix, this is definitely a fun horror outing.


***

Doctors in Review:


5th: "Oh, dear. That was awkward. I know that a snake god can be tricky to deal with..."

7th: "Yes. And vampirish creatures are tricky. But you just need a little belief in your companions, and a cracking game of chess."

11th: "It's all cool. Vampires are cool...Especially fish vampires...until you have to wipe out their species..."

5th and 7th: "You've got to lighten up."

11th:"Or what?"

7th: "We'll make you watch a Patrick Troughton horror movie."


Trailers In Short - Heroes Coming Back Edition, Part DC

Okay. Let's close out this look at our heroic tales with some DC Comics? We will stick with live action. Haven't even had a chance yet to watch Batman Versus Robin. But I do have some worries about taking this angle for doing the "Court of the Owls" storyline. ...We can get into that another time.


Still, it is fun to keep up on the DC series on now. Sadly, I am a little behind on viewing and reviewing. I do want to get caught up this week on Gotham and Flash, in some manner, so let's see where they are? (Also I'd like to do something for Constantine, to Remember/Hope For The Best For It.) And I want to get into iZombie, to get a sense of it. And Arrow's current season to.

I better hurry up in my homework, as we have additional shows making their way soon to TV, as we'll see.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Trailers In Short - Heroes Coming Back Edition

Back to the trailers!

And cue the triumphant hero music. For it is time to get back into the hero groove. And it's a time for that. The Empire of old needs some Rebellion. The Machines need to be Terminated. It's time for Max to get Mad again. And...Daredevil, Ant-Man, Fantastic Four, and the Rest.

Plus we should get into DC's Live Action Universe.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Suppose it's time to admit something horrible. I found the first teaser that was released for this movie to be a little meh. It was a series of shots that went by quickly with no sense of what anything meant. There were sights I knew, like updated Stormtroopers and X-Wings. And the Millennium Falcon did a quick pass. It was nice, particularly as the Williams music kicked in. But it was blur of "What?" I still didn't know what to expect.

And now we get this one. Let's be honest it is a rush of more images of things we don't really understand. But it's longer shots and more reveals of how this universe looks, is being filmed, and how the characters may actual connect to one another. And that makes me happy. I feel like I'm starting to figure out the movie.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Taxes in a Time of Taxes


It's April 15th, and depending where you are, you still have time to file your taxes here in the United States. (Either on your computer or by dropping it off at an open post office.) And not to worry if you've somehow forgotten about tax seasons end. You can still file tomorrow. As long as you don't owe you shouldn't have to worry about penalties, otherwise...

But it is our annual process. We balance out the books. We had the government withhold some of our income, and it now learns how much of that it should keep to pay into supporting our society, and how much it should return to us. Unless you didn't do withholding on your wages, and then you get to pay in now. (But really it is a matter of taste. You can either put the money at the start, or you can plan a year ahead and save the money to pay in. Whatever works best for you.) W-4's matter.


Sadly people have a visceral hate for our system to handle the funding of our country. Love the armed forces, fixed roads, border protection. Hate actually having to pay for these things. Hating on the IRS is an easy way to get some cheers. It's an honest reaction. But it's not altogether a rational one. It can be tragically irrational.

So...This what you do when you owe money?
A collection of accountants and bureaucrats, that some how get painted as evil for doing vital work, The IRS is given a function. Make sure people pay in what we as a society agree to do. Sure not everyone does pay in...But we all need to make changes to get billionaires, corporations, and ministries to get with it. (How is it that the powerful who skip out on taxes aren't painted as the villains?)

Fighting for America by moving profits overseas, and living
the good life (while having it's workforce live on Medicaid
and Food Snap).

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April Foolin'

Here. Let me end your trust in
humanity.
As we look to April, we get our annual tradition of April Fools Day.

Here's a little history for those interested in origins and international traditions you may not know of.

Tradition and all. Still doesn't stop pranking annoying. Sure there is the occasional brilliant piece of work, a masterwork in social experimentation. But most of the time it is just a matter of confusing everyone. And when news media gets in the game...they help no one.




So John Oliver has a good idea. A No-Pranking Pledge.



"Hey. You're being a dick right now. Stop being a dick."



Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday the 13th on Double Friday the 13th - Episode 12 - Faith Healer

It has been a couple of Friday's the 13th since we last delved into this series. I had hoped to do it in February, but Time bested me. Then I saw that March also had it's own Friday the 13th.

"Double Friday the 13th!!! What does it mean?!"


It means we finally get back into this show of shows. (Sure it's some days late. But Double Friday the 13th means the rules are out. BWAHAHAHAHA!)


"Faith Healer"

And as an episode to come back to, this is a good one. It's a strong first season episode.

You know, St Patrick's Day is...Nevermind...


Well. It seems to have been a while since I've posted. I know I planned to slow down, but damn.

I was going to do a Friday the 13th post last month, but...eh. Still there will be one shortly.

Still, did want to look at St Patrick's Day anew this year. Afterall, it is a Catholic holiday tied to a story about a guy driving snakes off an island. And what do people do? It doesn't seem to follow.

Sure. There is no indication that snakes have ever been indigenous to Ireland. And it's all a metaphor for driving out the old religion (which naturally must be evil).

But it's all an Irish celebration. And what do places like the U.S. do? Party. Get drunk. Wear green. Do questionable impersonations of Irish caricatures. (Really, If the Irish weren't considered white for the last century, this would all be offensive.)

I mean just look at how the very Catholic Irish revere their tradition...




Oh, and Sainted Patrick...

Photo by Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

,,,Oh, nevermind. Ireland is a silly place anyway.


Still, the whole snake side of things is too much fun to just let go. ...And it did make me think up a horror movie that would be fun to watch in this time of year. So look forward to the tale of a snake...which isn't really a snake...

But, hey, no snakes in Ireland either.


Coming soon. Lair of the White Worm.


Monday, December 29, 2014

The Horror Of...Christmastime, The Hogfather, All In One Post

Terry Pratchett's Discworld is a beloved world for many fans of fantasy and comedy. Pratchett has produced an imaginative reality that plays on literature, folklore, history, and social commentary.

Did I mention the great A'Tuin?



The Discworld is a wonderfully impossible place, where the nonsensical is keeping old disc on the old turtles back.

And the Hogfather takes us to the winter time, and a special holiday at the center of the lives of many of the world's inhabitants. While some are celebrating, others are plotting the end of the season, and the forces that keep it alive.

The Wizards. The Assassins. Death. All are pushed into motion. But it may take some people from the sidelines to set things


So here are all the parts of the review in one spot.

________


Part 1

A start to the tale. An intro to the world. Assassins called to duty. The tooth fairy must die.

Those are the Hogfather's hogs, or Gozer's coming to town.

Part 2

The Hogfather falters. Death takes a break, and a second job. And things get more and more Dicoworldy.

"What do you mean this is my only scene!"

Part 3

Susan enters the story. Susan doesn't want to get involved. ...Susan gets involved.

"Really, grandfather? Cosplaying?"

Part 4

Susan gets a clue. Susan goes to war. The Hogfather dies. Long live the Hogfather. And more.

Yeah, You know all you've done? Piss. Susan. Off.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Horror Of...Christmastime, Gremlins (1984)


As we stay in this holiday season, let's stay with so of this seasons classics of horror. And as I noted with A Christmas Carol, 1984 was a year with a number of Christmas based horror. Unfortunately I will have to leave a favorite of mine, Night of the Comet, for another day. But we have time for a more well known film, and a classic for many.


Gremlins

Let's hit it!