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Bert I. Gordon
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At the beginning of the film, we learn from one of the characters that earthworms can be called to the surface with electricity, but somehow it turns them into vicious flesh-eaters. Sure enough, a storm that night causes some power lines to break and touch the ground, drawing millions of man-eating worms out of the earth, and into town where they quickly start munching on the locals. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The 1970's saw a number of nature-strikes-back horror films, like Frogs (1972), Grizzly (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977), Day of the Animals (1977), and Prophecy (1979), but none that were quite as well-made and effectively frightening as this low-budget horror masterpiece!
Freak storm blows down power lines in a small Georgia town, and the resulting surge of voltage through the soil drives hordes of sand worms into a flesh-eating frenzy!
The debut film of director Jeff Lieberman, who would go on to make other great B thrillers like Blue Sunshine (1977) and Just Before Dawn (1981), Squirm is still one of his best. Lieberman wrote the story, which is clever and suspenseful, as it seems to enjoy its campy elements. The plot builds from a mysterious nature to a dark, claustrophobic climax. There's a number of memorably tense moments, such as the shower sequence and the infamous row boat sequence. Lieberman well uses the backwoods and swamps of coastal Georgia to convey a realistic setting and feverish summer atmosphere. Robert Prince's musical score is excellent, with some truly eerie and haunting themes that are perfect in conjunction with some of the dark sequences. The film also contains some of the early creations of a young Rick Baker, who does some awesome makeup effects that provide for more than one memorably creepy moment.
The cast of unknowns is quite good. Scardino is perfect as the out-of-towner hero who comes to visit his lady friend. Pearcy is attractive and genuine in her role as Scardino's southern girlfriend. R.A. Dow, Jean Sullivian, and Fran Higgins all make for perfect small-town characters.
Squirm is an undervalued film indeed. It's simply an unforgettable skin-crawler that never fails to entertain and thrill. It's above-average on all levels for a B horror film and is truly one of the best low-budget flicks of its time!
**** out of ****
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