In 1988 Ken Russell scripted and directed a story based on a novel by Bram Stoker with a twist on the Saint George and the Dragon legen. The setting of this modern horror yarn is the English countryside where Angus Flint, played by Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, Doctor Who), is excavating an old monastery in the backyard of a bed and breakfast owned by sisters Eve and Mary Trent, played by Catherine Oxenberg (Dynasty) and Sammi Davis (Homefront).
An ancient skull is discovered among the ruins, a hidden dark secret that was buried for hundreds of years. Soon a mysterious woman named Lady Sylvia Marsh shows up, uninvited, to reclaim the skull. Amanda Donohoe (Castaway, L.A. Law) performs the role of Marsh with great euphoria. Throughout the film she is usually seen in tight leather and other fetish clothing. She’s also not the cliché vampire type that usually operates at night, but something that is much different.
The film also features Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill) as the dashing Prince James D’Ampton, who claims that one of his ancestors slayed the beast from the film’s title. He begins working with Flint to uncover the secret of the White Worm. Meanwhile, Marsh is kidnapping and killing people left and right, including luring a young boy to her mansion.
When a hypnotic tune is played, it sends Marsh into sort of a trance, dancing like a serpent at a market bazaar. Later, music is used by D’Ampton as a weapon to lure Marsh out of a house as they attempt to rescue the kidnapped Eve. When the music starts, Marsh rises up from the basket in snake-like trance, clad in a tight black sequined leather outfit. She then continues to slither along the hall.
The film only raked in a little over $1 million on a budget of $2,500,000 and was met with mostly negative reviews. However, it has garnered a bit of a cult following in the time since its original release. Vestron Pictures distributed the film in theaters and on VHS home video, while later DVD releases came under different labels.
To date there has yet to be an official Blu-ray release, but there is an unofficial bootlegged fan edit high definition treatment available. Hopefully it will see a release on Blu-ray via someone like Shout! Factory in the near future.
Finally, here’s the theatrical trailer for the film.