Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Lair of the White Worm

The Lair of the White Worm is the definition of a cult movie. Mainly because it involves lots of cults. But, what most people don't know--or could care less about--is that the movie is loosely based on the last novel Bram Stoker ever wrote. And, as we all know, it's often the last thing published that's the best work. Apparently, this book was so well received that a famous reviewer of the time wrote, “Much like the worm/snake of the title, my refuse bin did also rise to swallow this novel. Yet, I held fast! As news of Stoker’s passing was still fresh in the air, his burial the next day even. It was in this mindset that I battled the urge to deposit Stoker’s novel there, refusing to be denied the pleasure of tossing it onto his casket as they lower him into the ground. For, as we know, a rose by any other name smells better than this book.” Those are some strong words of praise from ol’ England. The real question is: What do the nanobots think? Why leave such things to humans when science has proven, time and time again, that humans are weird.  

  • Employing at least three different fonts in your movie’s title. = -3pts
  • Holy Smoke. Hugh Grant! = +5pts
  • Holy Smoke II. Peter Capaldi!! = +10pts 
  • Nothing says terror like a cave big enough to fly a plane into. Scotland: The Congo of the British Isles. = +2pts (Wait, this is England? Tell it to stop looking like Scotland.)
  • Capaldi demonstrates the uncanny archeological ability to discover a funky ancient skull in his backyard. Underneath the clothesline. Where his girlfriend/wife is currently drying her clothes. Do people in Scotland never leave their yards or bother using job appropriate equipment? Or is it all haggis and knives? = +5pts
  • Not being able to tell the difference between a cow skull and a dinosaur skull. = -3pts
  • Building your house on top of the ruins of a burned down convent. = -2pts
  • Hey, Capaldi, why’s your lady working on the clothesline with an Allen wrench? We’re pretty sure you can’t farm with that tool. But then again that toothbrush is for teeth cleaning, not polishing the skulls of ancient beasts. They have a brush for that. But you guys go ahead and do whatever with whatever. = -2pts
  • Was your big indie music idea to combine The Pouges with Disco? Too late. = +10pts
  • Where not sure if the lead singer to the Pogues/Abba fusion band is singing about his drunken escapades, his penis, or foreshadowing the White Worm of the title. = +5pts (For letting his thick brogue add an air of mystery.)
  • Colorful and intricate Chinese dragons puppets making an appearance at a party = Fun, whimsical, majestic. Poorly constructed albino worms with loosely attached foam rubber teeth and lopsided eyes making a run at Hugh Grant. = Sad, nauseating, making us not want to go to a party in Scotland ever. = -4pts (Surely, surely, the worm in the finale will look better. Surely.)
  • Explaining how to defeat the big evil in a song. = +5pts
  • Muddling that explanation by having a Scottish man with an impenetrable accent mangle all the key points. = -5pts
  • If our lives depended on your answer to the question of what would be inside of a puppet worm cut in half during a Scottish worm rave/party, what would you guess? If your answer wasn’t "French maid," then we would all be dead. = +4pts
  • Hugh Grant has never been this posh. = +2pts (For showing us he always had it in him.)
  • Is there a better signal of your poshness than soliciting your local archeologist to dig up some old chastity belts because all your servants are whores? Yes, we can think of about a million. = -8pts
  • Hugh Grant just tried to convince us that the lowly earth worm wasn’t always the harmless creature that we view it as today. Just because you didn’t crack up while reading that line, doesn’t mean we believe you. = -1pt
  • Calling it the Downton Worm. = (In 1988, 0pts; In 2014, +14pts) net: +14pts
  • Romantic midnight exposition in a lonely wood. You got this, Capaldi! = -3pts
  • Nothing sets the mood for that first move quite like a woman telling you about how her parents disappeared in that same wood, and about how her boyfriend died on a “water bike.” = +9pts (One of those deaths sounds suspicious. The other sounds like a key plot point to be unearthed later.)
  • Sucking poison from the leg of a castoff of an episode of Benny Hill. = -3pts
  • In case you were curious about the posh lady who likes to suck poison out of a stranger’s leg, she gives Jesus a little spray after stealing the cow/dinosaur/demon skull. She’s a fan of fluids. = +4pts
  • Hugh Grant and horses have one thing in common… They both love to eat raw carrots. = +6pts
  • In case you were never given a good enough reason to avoid the bodily fluids of strangers. Here’s one. = -20pts (Stop at 1:20. You know, for spoilers sake.)
  • Being so posh that any attempt at sincerity only comes out sounding condescending and irritated. = -2pts
  • Those nuns made a great call laying the foundation for their convent right over that immaculate fresco of a white snake/worm wrapped around a red cross. That’ll keep those chastity belts nice and locked! = +5pts
  • “Are you into any sort of banging?” = +3pts (Do you even need to ask?)
  • Snakes and ladders! Everybody’s favorite pagan board game of ritual sacrifice! = +4pts
  • Playing a harmonica to a posh British lady wearing lingerie and thigh-high latex boots. = -6pts
  • That leading to a sponge bath with posh British lady. = +6pts
  • That leading to being bitten on your junk with posh lady’s giant serpent fangs. = -10pts (For not knowing when to cash in your chips.)
  • Exposition interrupting doorbell. = +4pts
  • Sexy music playing during scene of vaguely pedophiliac snake woman drowning what we hope is (at least) a teenager with her thigh-high boots. = 0pts (Score pending until age of dead boy/man in bathtub can be verified.)
  • Sitting down for drinks with someone in a room in which an underage sex crime clearly must have just taken place. = -4pts
  • Hugh Grant’s greatest acting achievement to date has been suppressing an almost pathological poshness in some of his subsequent movies. = +10pts (There is literally nothing he can do in this film without sounding like he's talking through an exquisite bowel movement.)
  • Mis-using a Rosebud reference. = -1pts
  • Using old-timey Méliès-like movie about music, worms, and women to communicate vital exposition. = +8pts
  • Walking into a painting of a cave clearly painted by a 10-year old… and finding your own private jet! = +8pts
  • Confusing (musical) score alert! Arrival of sexy three-note Lethal Weapon style sax can mean any one of the following things: Sexy-time, molestation, poisoning, board games, baths, catfights,  female wrestling, tanning, spelunking, sodomy, arrival of a bagpipe
  • This scene. = +45pts (In 1988 , +30pts; in 2014, +15pts)
  • Suggesting that the entrance to the legendary cave of the Downton Worm is a great place for a picnic. = +4pts (Matthew’s ideas clearly worked!)
  • You haven’t heard “women’s lib” spoken so smugly until you’ve heard Hugh Grant say it. = -5pts
  • Peter Capaldi’s rants against superstitious brits would be more effective if he delivered them in English and not Scottish. = +2pts (For ensuring the death of many by being incomprehensible.)
  • Helping a fashionista stuck in a tree. = -3pts
  • Tanning completely naked in any tanning bed built prior to yesterday. = -4pts (That's like putting  down-payment on cancer.)
  • Dionin artifact: horn or petrified penis? = No score, just an informal poll!
  • Toplessly fellating a bloody spear that has been used to impale nuns in their vaginas. = -25pts
  • Stating that the central conflict of your movie between pagan religions and that other pagan religion, Christianity, and playing loosey-goosey with both. = 0pts (A draw.)
  • Finding out from your creepy butler that your grandfather boned tons of Turkish belly dancers in search of the perfect “Turkish snake charming tune.” = +8pts
  • Sneaking up on your mother while she watches a video of another woman making out with a live snake… = -2pts
  • …since, everyone knows that doing so will cause her to bite you and lead to visions of Dionin cultists rapping/stabbing you to death with their sharp Dionin penises. = - 10pts (There’s a reason mom and dad have a lock on the door, kids!)
  • Cutting your friend’s mother in half with the family worm fighting sword on the unconfirmed hunch that she is a snake-person. = -3pts
  • Is there a greater weapon against an army of snake people than a bagpipe? Yes, actually there are. There are many. Many that don’t rely on the lung capacity of your average Scotsman. We couldn’t help but think that if a single person had visited a NYC subway during this time and seen a boom box, this movie would have been MUCH shorter.  = -4pts
  • Out-mystiqueing Mystique. = +3pts
  • Dionin codpiece. = -3pts (Seriously, all those buried metal chastity belts make a lot of sense now.)
  • Nope. It doesn't. = -3pts
  • Oh, Dionin!! Great sarlacc of Earth! Please accept this naked blue pederast in lieu of the blond virgin you were promised! = +10pts
  • Having your final scare hinge on what is essentially a clerical error. = -5pts
Total Score: +57pts

During the rigorous five minute internet research we did prior to scoring this film, we learned that Stoker's novel appropriated the legend of the "Lambton" Worm. However, after multiple viewings, with the nanobots detailed calculations supporting our claims, we can, in fact, confirm that said worm in question is repeatedly referred to as the "Downton" Worm. Clearly once Hugh Grant was cast in this movie, poor old Lambton wasn't a posh enough location for a pagan worm/serpent, thus a change to Downton became necessary. And welcomed! IMDB categorizes this film as a horror/comedy, actually as a comedy/horror. And there are certainly enough laugh out loud moments (doorbells!), as well as a bit of horror (molestation and stabby raping). But we'll go ahead and do Stoker a solid and allow this film to retain it cultish sheen. What it lacks the over-the-top gore or horror, of say, a Sam Raimi movie, it definitely makes up for in uncomfortable Re-Animator-like views on sex, which is just as good a reason as any to let it sit in that category with those films. Even if we wouldn't exactly put it on the top shelf. Or the second.

Score Technician: Sean McConnell

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