Scottish archaelogist Angus Flint discovers an odd skull amid the ruins of a convent which he is excavating. Angus learns of the D’Ampton Worm, a huge dragon/snake which an earlier D’Ampton killed by cutting it in half.
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The first act setup lacks energy and interest, and the film's final scene/twist is typical 'gotcha' cliffhanging mumbo jumbo. However, the rest of the film is a quite clever and fun midnight film. Donohoe makes for an interesting villain, and the comedic gags surrounding her as the snake goddess and snake-charming element are often funny. Dig the psychedelic trip-outs too; an often trademark of the director.
Beguiling, but daft, this has the makings of a decent English horror combining a sense of sexual menace and the unease that the English countryside can conjure. Unfortunately, either through budgetary constraints or directorial caprice, the film veers off into a half-assed spoof with some risible moments - the dream on the plane - which have a certain charm, but not worthy of a major filmic talent playing around.
Ken Russell is a cheeky, devilish, naughty bugger to be sure. Counts as one of his more restrained cinematic outings in which he reigns in his usual explosions of decadent, psychedelic imagery to one or two sequences. Amanda Donohoe is amazing as an evil, lascivious, snake queen as she slithers about causing mischief and mayhem. It was probably great fun to make and it is definitely great fun to watch repeatedly.
3.5 stars. Pretty half-assed for a Ken Russell film (he made this so that he could get financing for another film), and it's painfully obvious there was potential for an even wilder adaptation, but nevertheless very fun, silly (with even sillier special effects), and bizarre. Grant and Capaldi are hilarious!