Monday, 23 May 2011

Race With the Devil (1975)

There are many things us Brits are good at, and there are quite a few of those things that we even mange to make look cool and sexy, like Italy based gold bullion heists and Mini Coppers, for example. One thing us Brits aren’t good at, and we definitely don’t’ make either sexy or cool, is caravanning. For one thing, British caravans are rather like badly decorated sardine tins, sardine tins who’s interior design sensibilities invariably ground somewhere around 1987, this is immediately a problem. Also, we don’t have the weather for it, when caravanning in the UK the average person is wearing three pairs of socks, stout Wellington boots and as many jumpers as they can fit under their cagoule. Non of these factors make for sexy or, indeed, cool.

When I was a child caravanning holidays were very much the done thing. I can’t even begin to recall the amount of time I must have spent as youngster in what we laughingly refer to as the height of British summer listening to the rain hammer against the tin lid of some ghastly, probably infested rented tin can on wheels whilst being forced to play family card games until the weather lets up enough that we can go back outside and visit some crumbling castle or a craft fair. British caravanning is monumentally dull. The only notable thing that ever happened to me whilst staying in a caravan was I fell off a small craggy outcrop whilst chasing a goat. I was warned repeatedly, this was entirely my own fault. But the point remains; again, neither sexy or cool.

But none of these problems are problems for Race With the Devil’s the Marshes and the Stewarts, they are both sexy and cool in their brand spanking new $36,000 R.V, although they do however, have minor issues with angry Satanists so I suppose things even out.

Roger and Kelly Marsh (Peter Fonda and Lara Parker) and Frank and Alice Stewart Warren Oates and Loretta Swit) haven’t had a vacation in years, they’ve been far too busy racing dirt bikes and making a ton of money. To rectify this all work situation they decide to pack up their bikes on the back of Frank’s fancy R.V. and head off to Colorado for a well earned holiday.

So, without a care in the world the two couples, and a small dog named Ginger, head out cross country for what should be splendid jaunt with all the luxuries the 70s had available. Now, this may come as a surprise to you, but the Untied States of America is massive! In Britain if you want to travel from one county to the next it takes about 5 minutes, but in the US you had just better settle in for the duration because it takes a small eternity on account of being so massive.(It may be obvious at this point that my temporal and spatial awareness skills aren’t the best). The Marshes and the Stewarts, however, fully aware that their country is a billion miles wide, are well prepared for the fact that soon they will have to settle for the night before continue on their merry way to Colorado (approximately 137 light-years away). Unfortunately, and to their later detriment, the group decide to stub the local trailer park with all its colourful charm and instead opt to park up in a secluded area and set up camp with their lovely awning.

We now come to another reason I love the 70s. In the 70s there was never not a reason to have cocktails; pre-dinner cocktails, after dinner cocktails, just got up in the morning cocktails, ‘it must be five minutes since we had cocktails’ cocktails, at any given moment in the 70s the cocktail shaker could be miraculously produced from nowhere and any variety of alcoholic beverages could be shaken about. I actually believe that there is a law somewhere that states you can not be in charge of a cocktail shaker unless the cuffs of your trousers measure in excess of 12inches. In testament to this phenomenon, before the R.V. even fully comes to a halt, Frank’s out of his luxuriously upholstered driving seat and mixing Martinis. Respect, Mr. S. Now, while I may admire the ‘anytime, any place, anywhere’ spirit, it is partly this behaviour, and ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan’s inability to keep her ‘hot lips’ shut, that’s about to cause all manner Satan related problems that they probably could have done without on their lovely, glamorous holidays.

Still quaffing Martinis Frank and Roger settle comfortably under their smashing awning (probably an incentive bonus for purchasing the deluxe R.V. package, and also something else that we manage to make look a bit rubbish and we huddle underneath it for shelter and some semblance of warmth, but they make look sexy and cool) and take in the night air. Unfortunately though, what Frank and Roger don’t know is that this particular secluded spot is also the secluded spot of choice for the local neighbourhood Satanist chapter and it isn’t long before the boys spot some funny goings on around a fire in the middle distance that they feel compelled to investigate, with binoculars.

Now, there are many things that I believe in; equality and freedom of speech, for instance, but mostly, mostly I believe that people who spy on people through binoculars generally deserve what they get (except for Jimmy Stewart, that was entirely different), I also extend this to people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to wander uninvited into people’s houses usually on the basis that houses/people in question are a bit weird, these people definitely deserve all they get.

Anyway, stumbling closer to get a better eyeful of what they assume is a convenient orgy staged for their voyeuristic pleasure, the boys get more than they bargained for when what they actually witness is a Satanic rite that culminates in the ritual murder of a young girl, but they did get to see boobies so the spectacle wasn’t entirely wasted for them. Just as the boys are realising that their best course of action is to sneak quietly away and alert the appropriate authorities, ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan marches into the fray and ruins the covert perving by yelling at the boys to come in for their tea, or something. Thanks to Hot Lips the Satanists now know that their evil privacy has been invaded by half-drunk tourists and unsurprisingly they’re non to happy about it.

At this point they decide that it is their best interests to make a run for it and they speed out of the secluded overnight spot dragging their awning behind them. Also at this point, in case you are interested, I decided to have a light supper of cheese and crackers, yum. And thus the vacationing quartet find themselves pursued relentlessly up and down Texan motorways by enraged cultists and the eponymous ‘the ‘race with the devil’ begins.

From here on in the film essentially becomes a classic car chase flick as the hapless couples spend the rest of the movie trying desperately to get to the safety of Amarillo but at every step of their journey they are dogged by the satanic version of the Anthill Mob, unhelpful law enforcement officers, weird trailer park residents wearing so much polyester they certainly must be a fire hazard and sinister gas station attendants and librarians. I think it’s fair to say that the film only really finds its feet when the action sequences begin, shotguns are fired out of windows at high speed, cars are driven for miles on two wheels, stuff explodes, Satanists career off bridges and Peter Fonda consistently sports some the of finest 70s shirts mankind has ever witnessed.

Race With the Devil is so 70s it made my nose bleed. (This isn’t actually true. The only time I have ever spontaneously bled due to over stimulation is when I thought I saw Alan Moore whilst in a beer garden in Northampton, I had also just hit myself in the face with my mobile phone so these two factors may not even be related. For the record we never did get any clarification as to whether it was in fact Mr. Moore, I like to think it was). While Race With the Devil is undeniably a raucous romp round the back roads of 70s horror, I like to think of it more as a morality tale warning us of what would have really happened to Scooby Doo’s gang when they go meddling into the affairs of evil doers in masks.

Things I learned from Race With the Devil

Satanists are persistent little buggers and apparently make up a good fraction of the state of Texas.

Everyone, in fact, knows the way to Amarillo and if you do happen to be in doubt you can always ask a roadwork’s labourer.

Libraries are awesome. Any given library anywhere will always have a comprehensive collection of books on satanic practices for your perusal.

Satanists are also excellent stunt drivers and could easily make living in the movies if the Devil thing doesn’t work out.

Cheese and 70s Satanists before bed make for messed up dreams.

Monday, 16 May 2011

1986: A Very Personal Horror Story

My brother: the pride of 1986

Many notable events occurred in 1986. Halley’s Comet put in an appearance, and became the first comet to be observed in detail by a spaceship. Mexico hosted the football World Cup and saw Diego Maradona’s infamous (and rather cheaty) ‘Hand of God’ bring victory for Argentina. We put our Hands Across America, (not me personally sadly, I was busy starting Big School), to fight hunger. And, most importantly, my little brother was born! Kurt came into this world on 16th May 1986 at 15.05 weighing in at a mighty, and rather alarming, 9lb 3oz, and he has plagued and delighted my life ever since.

Initially I was none too thrilled about getting a little brother, I’d have rather gotten a dog, or Mousetrap, but despite my repeated assertions that we didn’t need a baby one turned up anyway and I reluctantly became a big sister. To my eternal regret I wasn’t the greatest big sister. I spent much of Kurt’s early life either ignoring him or tormenting him. The two most notorious instances of my evilness, the ones that are rolled out at Christmas and birthdays go thusly: Once I came home late during the summer when it was still quite light at night and woke him up and told him it was morning and time for school, he got dressed and went bleary eyed into my mother’s room expecting his breakfast at about half ten at night. And worse, and most shamefully, once when I was babysitting I covered myself in tomato ketchup and lay on the floor with a massive knife on my chest, when the poor little lamb found me and ran away and hid in the airing cupboard I proceeded to follow him and rattle the knife across the slatted door. I know, I’m ghastly, and I honestly couldn’t hate myself more. For the record both of these instances occurred when I was about 17 and old enough to know better. I disgust myself. Fortunately, and clearly despite my best efforts, he grew up well balanced and healthy and has grown up into an extraordinary young man. I quite genuinely love my brother more than breathing and the one regret in my life is that I didn’t give him the attention he deserved and missed all that time with him as a child due to my own horrificness.

To any ladies reading; my brother would wish me to point out that these pictures are a couple of years old, because his sister sucks, and that he's been working out a lot.
So in honour of Kurt’s 8th birthday (he’ll always be 8 in my head) let’s sit back and remember some classic horror of 1986. It’s all for you, Kurt!!!

Aliens (1986)

Ripley’s back and this time she isn’t taking anymore of this darn nonsense, yeah, damn skippy. Hmm, turns out there’s a reason I don’t write movie taglines, scratch that off the potential new career list.

Beginning directly where Alien left off, Aliens catches up with Ellen Ripley as she wakes from her cryogenic sleep to find it is now fifty seven years later and people now live on the home planet of the alien that decimated the Nostromo. Unsurprisingly the stupid colonists soon find themselves it a whole mess of trouble and naturally it’s then left to Ripley accompanied by a troop of Space Marines (Space Marines!!! Awesome!!!) to save the day.

James Cameron takes the helm here with explodey gusto the likes of which probably only James Cameron can achieve. Debates will probably rage eternally as to whether this or Alien is the superior movie in the franchise, I have to say that my heart lies with Alien largely because I’m purist but also because Ridley Scott is a local boy. Interesting fact: Dawdon Blast Beach features as the alien planet in the opening credits of Alien 3, I used to play there as a kid.

April Fool’s Day (1986)

Muffy St. John invites her closest pals to her fancy mansion for a Spring Break weekend of fun frolics and other such stuff that 80s teenagers enjoy. Conveniently, Muffy’s friends all fit into handy stereotypes and this makes them easy to spot; jock, geek, goodtime girl, sensible girl next door, etc. As they all pile onto the boat to head Muffy’s dream house everything seems fine and dandy, but then people start messing around with knives and, just as our mother’s warned us, it ends in tears as what begins as a prank ends in propellers mushing faces. Things don’t get much better when they arrive at the holiday hideaway either as soon Muffy is wandering around acting ten shades of crazy and people start disappearing.

April Fool’s Day is a slasher genre classic with the kind of plot twists M. Night Shyamalan can only curse god he didn’t think of first (sometimes in my darker moments I think if my life had turned out the way I planned I could have been M. Night Shyamalan, starring, writing, directing in my own movies like a massive egomaniac, which would be awful and I’d have to kill myself, and then I think, no, how silly, if my life had turned out the way I planned I would have been a serious Garth Marenghi, and that would be awesome. I have a huge affection for April Fools Day, although it only just occurs to me now that if hadn’t seen it and loved it my darling brother might have had a less disturbing childhood (sorry, Kurt, I love you).

Night of the Creeps (1986)

“I got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here.”

“What's the bad news?”

“They're dead.”

In 1959, an alien experiment crashes to earth right near Corman University. While this strange intergalactic catastrophe is going on, frat boy John and his lovely girlfriend Pam are indulging in some, what I believe in popular parlance would term ‘making out’ when they hear the news that escaped axe wielding maniac is loose and headed right for them, bloody typical. Their night goes from bad to worse when aforementioned axe wielding maniac murders lovely Pam and John gets himself infected with an alien parasite. Worst date ever. Fast forwarding in time to the modern day, Chris Romero and J.C. Hooper are two hapless geeks pledging a fraternity who accidentally manage to thaw the cryogenically frozen corpse of the original victim and proceed to infect the campus with alien parasites that transform their hosts into killer zombies.

Seriously, what’s not to love about that set up?

Night of the Creeps is a movie that loves horror movies; everything about it loves horror movies. With more references to horror movies and icons than you can shake a xenomorph at, Night of the Creeps was once a neglected classic but thankfully it seems finally getting the recognition it deserves. And it’s got Tom Atkins in it. I love Tom Atkins.

Friday The 13th 6: Jason Lives (1986)

Because mental Tommy Jarvis can’t leave things well enough alone, Jason is resurrected as an unstoppable zombie killing machine. Well, nice one, Tommy. Naturally, much like an undead homing pigeon, Jason immediately marches off back to the place he knows best, Crystal Lake, and the obligatory massacre commences.

I find Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives to be hysterical. Part of this amusement comes the fact that I invariably give a running commentary throughout that mainly consists of ‘for fucks sake, Tommy’ while I hold my head in my hands in exasperation. I find Tommy so moronic in this film and it makes me laugh. Forest Green also makes laugh. Forest Green! Most futile attempt at rebranding ever!

Obviously not the best in the series, but it has a place in my heart nonetheless.

Edited to prove my love for Jason Lives to Matthew: I have the tour t-shirt and everything

Critters (1986)

‘The battle began in another galaxy. It's about to end in the Brown’s backyard.’

When a bunch of furry miscreants known as the Crites escape from a prison asteroid head straight for earth in a stolen spaceship, all hell breaks loose for the people of a small Kansas town. Armed only with the local drunk and his space bounty hunter pals (I think space bounty hunters may just trump space marines as coolest job ever) a family fights for survival against the razor toothed, quick quipping balls of furry doom.

My brother watched Critters over and over and over when he was small. This meant I had to watch Critters over and over and over again. For a long time this ruined Critters for me. I knew every word of dialogue; it was ingrained in my brain for so long I began to think I’d been born with that knowledge. Fortunately I got over that I can now appreciate Critters for the glorious B movie, monsterfest that it is. While it may not be Gremlins, I still love it, and not just because it will always remind me of my brother.

1986, eh? What a year!! It gave us so much; this list could easily have been twice as long, easily. But of all the great things 1986 produced I love my brother the most, he is my favourite 1986er without doubt and the one I’m most grateful for. Yup, he's even better than Highlander.

Happy birthday, Kurt! I love you. xxx

Monday, 9 May 2011

Special Announcements or Confessions of a Maladroit Redhead

You have may have noticed that I haven’t been around the ole internet as often as usual, certainly not as often as I would like. I haven’t been posting as much and have been neglecting on your delicious blogs terribly, particularly when comes to making comments, for which there is no excuse. I’m appalled at myself, I really am. Partly this is because of my own stupidity. In an embarrassingly tragic turn of events I recently managed to spill vinegar onto my, already a bit rubbish, laptop. That’s right, vinegar. It made an alarming fizzing noise, and while it still kind of works it’s a bit crap. Frankly it was already a bit crap due to minor dropping incident last year, there must be a loose connection somewhere and it’s really difficult to keep the screen from flickering horrendously without contorting yourself into ridiculous positions and loosing sensation in your fingers from bracing the screen, the vinegar has clearly only exacerbated this problem. I shouldn’t be allowed technology.

In other better news, I am now also writing for The Awesome Cryptozoology Club. I just did a post about my beloved Megalodons and intend to get up to some other cool beastie related stuff in the near future (The Lambton Worm may even make it over). As starting new things is a bit scary, I would dearly love it if some of you would add us to your blog lists, it would be great and reassuring to see some familiar faces over there.

Foot Watch 2011

You will doubtless all know by now, because I keep boring you at length about it, about my creepy right foot and its stupid tumours. Latest news is that it still sucks, however, we have now named the tumours, because I’ve heard if you name evil it takes away its power. Zak and Skylar, as they are now known, are currently throbbing away malevolently in my stationary foot, plotting and laughing at me. I fear that they are making me do things while I’m asleep. However, and keep your voices down here because I don’t want them to get wind of it and mount a counter attack, I am currently waiting for an appointment for the first in course of cortisone injections that is apparently going to shrink them. Ssshhh. It’s taking ages to book because they need to be sonogram guided right into Zak and Skylar, can’t say I’m in a great rush as it’s going to be horrifically painful and quite frankly rubbish. Of course all of this could be avoided if I’d just man up and go and have the damned op to cut them out, but no, apparently I would rather go and sit there and take the repeated agonising pain of great big needles in the foot, like a massive idiot. Unless I’m not a massive idiot and they are fiendishly making me too scared to have the op so they don’t get cut out and lose dominion…no, probably not, I’m just a massive idiot.

In other news, while I have been lounging around resting Zak and Skylar, I have watched a crap load of films. For reasons best known to my worrying subconscious, I’ve been more than a little obsessed with 70s Satanists of late and that has taken up a lot of my time. For aiding and abetting me in this endeavour I need to thank the glorious Matthew from Carfax Abbey and WoV from The Wizard of Vestron for their wonderful movie suggestions. You guys are awesome.

On a related note, can anyone explain to me why I can’t for love or money get a copy of Crowhaven Farm anywhere? It’s ridiculous. I’m becoming more and more obsessed with it by second and it continues to allude me to a spectacular degree.

Not related at all, but it amused me, I watched a film with Ron Perlman in it (not very surprising, I know) in which it eventually transpired he was the killer, a killer who through the course of the movie not only brutally killed a load of people but also systematically tormented and manipulated an already mentally unstable teenage boy into thinking he did it. Why, would Ron do such a thing, you may ask, well, apparently for no other reason than I could ultimately discern than he was mad at Sweden. Yup, mad at Sweden. I love you, Ronnie P!

I would also like to give a big thank you to the ever wonderful Doctor Cyclops from Doctor Cyclops Horror for honouring me with the Versatile Blogger award. I can’t tell you how amazingly flattering it is and how much it buoys my spirit to be singled out like this. I think I’ve already covered the seven things about myself, and more than anyone would ever want to know, in this post so I will not bore you with more. With regard to passing it on to you amazing folks, this is where I struggle. I know many of you already have this lovely award, and, more significantly, you are all so magnificent and make my day everyday in so many different ways with each of your posts I couldn’t possibly pick so few, so I feel that I can only say to you all, if you don’t have this award, please, please accept it with love and respect from me now. I think you are all amazing, and Zak and Skylar think so too, it’s one of the few things we agree on.

Lastly, kitten update: Bebe Gunns and Opie Golightly remain impossibly gorgeous, but are consistently full of mischief and have developed a strange new interest in free running up and down our walls and doors for hours on end. Not climbing walls, actually wall of death style laps of the house. Cats are weird. Here’s a gratuitous picture of them being adorable and quiet for once.


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Local Horror: The Lambton Worm

Us folks from the North East of England are notoriously a chatty bunch, we’re natural storytellers, spinners of yarns and voyagers on flights of fancy. You can wile away hours in any given North Eastern pub simply by striking up a conversation with a local resident (for best results seek an elder patron) and allowing yourself to regaled with the most fantastical tall tales and enthralling anecdotes. I myself have done this often, and have frequently heard a story so amazing that I have been compelled to tell the purveyor of wonder that I will be forced to steal that particular tale and tell it myself, and such is the glory of the oral tradition.

Yes, us Northeasterners love a story and I think it’s fairly safe to say that The Lambton Worm is a tale that has a special place in our hearts and is probably the most famous of the fables from our region. The legend of The Lambton Worm has been told and retold evolving from oral tradition through the written word and even into song and pantomime form. So, whisht, lads, haad yor gobs an' aa'll tell ye aall an aaful story…..

Young whippersnapper, and heir to Lambton Hall, John Lambton, decided one particular fine Sunday morn that his time would be far better employed on a fishing trip rather than by going to church like a good lad. So, while all the other townsfolk were dutifully attending mass in Brugeford Chapel, John was parked by the River Wear dangling his rod in its murky depths (that sounds entirely more filthy than is really necessary, I apologise).

For a long time John sat without so much as a nibble, but then, all of a sudden, his line was jolted with a terrific force. Naturally assuming that he’d landed the catch of the century, John excitedly set about reeling in the tremendous beast, but the task proved harder than he could have imagined. But steadfast, John refused to give up his prize without a fight and bracing himself against the riverbank he laboured for a seeming eternity until, finally, just as the sheer exertion was threatening to claim him, his line popped free from the water and he landed his magnificent catch on the bank by his feet. Somewhat amazed, young John peered down at creature his efforts had lain before him and saw to his surprise that it wasn’t even nearly the mighty fish he had been expecting. At his feet lay a black wormlike animal, and it was small, astonishingly small for something that had presented him with so much trouble to land. While John contemplated his catch the creature slithered and coiled in the mud beside him and venturing a closer examination John could see that its jaws were indeed mighty, and, he noted, lined with rows of razor sharp teeth that, although small, looked fearsome and deadly.

Just as John was preparing to throw the disappointing, and decidedly unpleasant, brute back into the river he became aware of a presence behind him and turned to find an old man eyeing the creature and crossing himself furiously. When John asked him what was wrong the old man said that he must not throw the creature back t the river, that it would bode badly for young John, but at all costs he must keep the beast and not return it to the river. Obediently, if a little startled, John duly picked up the black worm and cast it into his basket, but as he turned back to question the man further he found he was alone on the riverbank and the old fellow was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly a feeling of deep unease overwhelmed John and the more he looked at the worm the more he knew he must be free of it. The old man’s warning had unnerved him enough not to consider risking returning it to the river, but as he walked home he spotted an old well and seized the opportunity to rid himself of his slithery burden.

For years all was quiet and John Lambton never gave a thought to peculiar creature he had caught that day. But, unbeknownst to our hero all the while the worm was wallowing in the murk of the well, becoming strong and growing, growing and growing Years later while John was off fighting in the crusades villagers began to notice that there was something very wrong with the well. It became apparent that the water was poisoned and unusable and at night eerie vapours were seen rising nefariously from the mouth of the well. As is natural in these situations, the villagers sagely decided that the well had clearly been claimed by an evil force and was now cursed as a result.

Surprisingly it turned out the villagers were absolutely right as early one morning it was discovered that the full grown worm had crawled from its gloomy home and had lain waste to the surrounding farms savagely feeding on all livestock it could find leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. To their horror they also saw that the creature heavy and bloated from its night’s feast had coiled its massive bulk about a rocky outcrop close to the river of its terrible birth.

News swiftly spread through the village and surrounding areas and filled the region with fear and dread. For a while the beast remained still and silent, some of the very brave even dared to creep closer to catch a glimpse of the razor toothed terror, but this relative peace was not to last and all too soon the creature became ravenous once more and embarked upon another bloody rampage devouring everything that lay in its path. The villagers were terrified, but something had to be done, some brave souls banded together to attempt to slay the beast but all who tried were immediately torn to shreds by the worm’s savage teeth or brutally crushed in its mighty coils.

Eventually the beast made its way to Lambton Hall where now only the lord resided. Fortunately the villagers were quick to react and managed to distract creature with offerings of the fattest livestock left alive. And so the ritual began that would last for seven long years, again and again the villagers would sacrifice what livestock they could muster to keep the worm in a sated slumber and prevent it from feasting on all who dwelled there.

When seven whole years had passed John Lambton finally returned from the crusades and saw the terrible fate that had befallen his village. Wracked with tremendous guilt he resolved there and then that he would destroy the evil creature himself and free his people from its servitude. To prepare himself for this dangerous task he visited the local wise woman. Aware of his culpability the wise woman confirmed for John that was indeed his duty to slay the beast, she advised his to seek the blacksmith and have a suit of armour crafted that was wrought with sharpened spearheads at every inch of its surface and then once clad in this new fearsome attire he must lie in wait for the worm at its rocky lair. Convinced by her words John nodded his acquiescence, but, just as he was about to run straight to the blacksmith, the woman’s face darkened and she seized his shoulder with a startling strength. Looking him square in the eye and with a gravity that chilled John to his very core she warned him that if should slay the beast he must then also put to death the first living thing he sees following the act and if failed that task then three times three generations of Lambtons would die badly.

Knowing she spoke the truth John ran as fast he could to the blacksmith’s forge and tasked him to craft his suit. The blacksmith worked tirelessly all through that night and by morning the armour was ready and as John emerged from the forge a crowd of villagers had gathered to cheer their hero and as he passed through them he swore to himself that he would be victorious.

For what seemed like an age John waited, but there was no sign of the worm. He waited and waited and then, just as he was giving up hope, the creature finally emerged raising its enormous, vicious head from the depths of the river a rapacious glint colouring its cold eyes. Without time to think John charged towards the water his sword held high and so began a long the violent battle between man and beast. It soon became apparent that every time the creature attempted to wrap John in its coils or crush him in its maw it was only succeeding in tearing itself up on the razors of the armour. John then knew that if he had the strength to endure the attacks for long enough then all he had to do was wait for the creature to be sufficiently weak and then he could slaughter it and put an end to its tyranny. Steeling his resolve John braced himself for the extensive battle he knew faced. And on the pair raged the sky darkening around them, until, eventually, the last of its strength spent the worm slumped onto the riverbank. Exhausted John struggled to its side and with the last ounce of energy remaining in his aching body plunged his blade right into its heart and blew three sharp blasts on his horn to signal to the servants at the hall to release a hound in order he could complete his vow. But, the joy of victory was short-lived as on hearing the blasts Jon’s father, the lord, was so overcome with delight he rushed to greet his son as he crossed into the hall’s grounds. Devastated John turned away and slew the hound, but it was too late, the vow was broken, the worm was defeated and his people free but for generations none of the Lambtons would die a good death.

Penshaw Monument; where the worm is said lie
The legend of the The Lambton Worm has even done its best to extend beyond its northern folktale status and into more mainstream culture. In 1911 Bram Stoker’s The Lair of the White Worm was published and I think its fair to say that the story borrows heavily from our humble local worm, and of course, who can forget that Ken Russell turned Stoker’s novel into his 1988 classic of the same name. I you haven’t seen Russell’s Lair of the White Worm you must, it’s mental and awesome. You can also hear a few repeated bars of the Lambton Worm song near the end within the melody Peter Capaldi’s character Angus is plays on the bagpipes to lure the acolytes.

You can listen to The Lambton Worm song here. And here are the lyrics so you can sing along at home.

One Sunday morn young Lambton Went a-fishin' in the Wear; An' catched a fish upon his huek, He thowt leuk't varry queer, But whatt'n a kind a fish it was Young Lambton couldn't tell. He waddn't fash to carry it hyem, So he hoyed it in a well.

Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, Aa'll tell ye aall and aaful story,
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, An' Aal tell ye 'bout the worm.

Noo Lambton felt inclined to gan An' fight in foreign wars. He joined a troop o' Knights that cared For neither wounds nor scars, An' off he went to Palestine Where queer things him befel, An' varry seun forgot aboot The queer worm i' the well.

Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, Aa'll tell ye aall and aaful story,
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, An' Aal tell ye 'bout the worm.

But the worm got fat an' growed an' growed, An' growed an aaful size; He'd greet big teeth, a greet big gob, An' greet big goggle eyes. An' when at neets he craaled aboot To pick up bits o'news, If he felt dry upon the road, He milked a dozen coos.

Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, Aa'll tell ye aall and aaful story,
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, An' Aal tell ye 'bout the worm.

This feorful worm wad often feed On calves an' lambs an' sheep, An' swally little bairns alive When they laid doon to sleep. An' when he'd eaten aal he cud An' he had has he's fill, He craaled away an' lapped his tail Seven times roond Pensher Hill.

Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, Aa'll tell ye aall and aaful story,
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, An' Aal tell ye 'bout the worm.

The news of this most aaful worm An' his queer gannins on Seun crossed the seas, gat to the ears Of brave an' bowld Sir John. So hyem he cam an' catched the beast An' cut 'im in three halves, An' that seun stopped he's eatin' bairns, An' sheep an' lambs and calves.

Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, Aa'll tell ye aall and aaful story,
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, An' Aal tell ye 'bout the worm.

So noo ye knaa hoo aall the folks On byeth sides of the Wear Lost lots o' sheep an' lots o' sleep An' lived in mortal feor. So let's hev one to brave Sir John That kept the bairns frae harm Saved coos an' calves by myekin' haalves O' the famis Lambton Worm

Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, Aa'll tell ye aall and aaful story
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, An' Aal tell ye 'bout the worm.

Noo lads, Aa'll haad me gob, That's aall Aa knaa aboot the story Of Sir John's clivvor job Wi' the aaful Lambton Worm!

Honestly, those are the words. Because I’m helpful like that I shall now translate for those of you unfamiliar the local dialect:

One Sunday morning young Lambton went fishing in the Wear; and caught a fish upon his hook, He thought it looked very queer, but what manner of fish it was Young Lambton couldn't tell. He could not be bothered to carry it home, so he threw it in a well.

Hush, gentlemen, hold your tongues, And I will tell you all an awful story,
Hush, gentlemen, hold your tongues, and I will tell you about the worm.

Now Lambton felt inclined to go and fight in foreign wars. He joined a troop of' Knights that cared for neither wounds nor scars, and off he went to Palestine where queer things befell him, and very soon forgot about the queer worm in the well.

Repeat chorus

But the worm got fat and grew and grew, and grew an awful size; He had great big teeth, a great big mouth, and great big goggle eyes. And when at nights he crawled about to pick up bits of news, if he felt dry upon the road, he milked a dozen cows.

Repeat chorus

This fearful worm wouldd often feed on calves and lambs and sheep, and swallowed little children alive when they laid down to sleep. And when he'd eaten all he could and he had eaten his fill, he crawled away and lapped his tail seven times round Penshaw Hill.

Repeat chorus

The news of this most awful worm and his queer goings on soon crossed the seas and got to the ears of brave and bold Sir John. So home he came and caught the beast and cut him in three halves, and that soon stopped eating children, and sheep and lambs and calves.

Repeat chorus

So now you know how all the folks on both sides of the Wear Lost lots of sheep and lots of sleep and lived in mortal fear. So let us drink to brave Sir John that kept the children from harm saved cows and calves by cutting in half the famous Lambton Worm

Repeat chorus

Now gentlemen, I’ll hold my tongue because that is all I know about the story of Sir John's clever job with the awful Lambton Worm!


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