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"Squirm" is set in rural Fly Creek, Georgia in the aftermath of a
violent storm. Power lines are knocked down by the storm and are
feeding electricity into the wet ground. This drives the worms crazy,
and for some reason, to crave flesh. The day after the storm, a young
man from NYC, Mick, arrives by bus to visit his new girlfriend, Gerry,
a resident of Fly Creek. As strange events begin to unfold, the young
couple turn detective and try to solve the mystery. They find a corpse,
lose a corpse, frustrate Gerry's jealous neighbor, and try the patience
of the local sheriff more than once. Will they be able to crack the
case in time to save the town?! Tune in to see.
Director Jeff Lieberman did not direct many films , but he does a great job with this one. The pacing is great, and the cinematography is some of the best work done on a horror film during the 1970's. He includes plenty of humor and suspense, the required ingredients in these films. The lead actors also do a great job. Don Scardino, as Mick, looks like a young Horatio Caine trying figure out what is going on in this small town. He comes off as likable and heroic in an amateurish fashion. Patricia Pearcy plays Gerry, the perfect young southern belle. She's well mannered, attractive and has a subtle sexuality that you don't usually see in horror films. Though not a great acting performance, she seems comfortable in the role. She and Scardino seem to have real chemistry, which is refreshing to see in a low budget creature feature. The rest of the cast is hit and miss. Gerry's family, her love lorn neighbor, and the local sheriff are perfect. The rest of the cast seems to have no acting experience whatsoever.
This is a fun movie to watch late at night. The low budget limits this film's potential, but the cast, as well as the excellent direction, make this a must see.
The song that plays over the opening and closing credits is perfect. It sets exactly the right tone for the film.
Fly Creek is a small southern town best known for it's "antiques" and
the Grimes Worm Farm. During one particularly hot summer, while Mick
(Don Scardino) is on his way on a bus to meet new girlfriend Geri
Sanders (Patricia Pearcy), they're hit by a whopper of a thunderstorm.
Fly Creek's roads are flooded and they've lost power due to a downed
power line that is still sparking. And that leads to a big problem.
Because when the film's worms are stimulated by electricity, they come
out of the ground, ready to bite, and there are millions of them!
As is obvious from the premise, Squirm is a nature-gone-wild film, a subgenre of horror that was particularly active in the 70s. It's a pretty good example of the genre, and the film is successful more often than not, as long as you don't start to question the plot too much. Overall, it's a 7 out of 10 for me. I almost gave it an 8, but the ending is a bit too clichéd, so I knocked off a point. I've only seen one of director/writer Jeff Lieberman's other films so far--Blue Sunshine (1976)--and that also had points taken off for a less-than-satisfying ending.
Squirm is at its best when it's wallowing in small redneck town weirdness. The Sheriff (Peter MacLean) is frighteningly unresponsive, a bit pleasantly campy, and he's also a paranoid troublemaker. The Grimes family, Willie (Carl Dagenhart) and Roger (R.A. Dow), are demented and creepy. The Sanders family seems oddly dysfunctional, and Geri's sister, Alma (Fran Higgins), demonstrates that Juliette Lewis wasn't the first Juliette Lewis. When all of this stuff is combined with Squirm's initial slow-burning horror aspects--including a relatively subtle amount of worms and a well-placed (both literally and in terms of the script) skeleton--it is good, almost sublimely so.
But things begin to go slightly awry when we get to the big extravaganza near the end. The characters have either died off or Lieberman simply abandons them. Having a lot of characters die off by the end is understandable and even laudable in a film like this, but it's too bad we couldn't have seen them longer and had more emotional investment in them. Simply abandoning characters isn't as excusable. Of course the attacking worm quotient increases as the film continues, and this is handled well physically (I can't imagine having to be a worm wrangler), but plot points surrounding the worms become sketchier and almost contradictory at times. That saps too much tension out of the ending, and instead we're primarily engaged by physical effects for their own sake, plus a wonderfully campy change in personality from Roger.
Squirm is definitely worth seeing for anyone with a taste for lower-budget 1970s horror, and at times is quite a gem. Just don't set your expectations too high (but really, who would for a film like this?)
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 ****
Squirm is a film that I first saw on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and I
absolutely love that episode. It was just a terrific and hilarious one
that will always give me a good laugh. Now believe it or not, I later
found this film in the 5 dollar bin at Wal Mart and figured, why not?
This movie was just so laughable, why not watch it and make up my own
sarcasm. Well, when I watched the uncut version, actually I have to in
some ways admit that this wasn't the worst film ever made, worthy of
MST3K sarcasm, but I would say that the problems are minor and the film
just needs a band-aid, lol. The music and southern accents are just a
Mick is coming to Fly Creek for a good country vacation and meeting an old friend, Geri. There was a nasty storm the night before and electricity hit the ground hard causing the worms to turn into killers. Mick and Geri, along with her creepy neighbor who is a mixture of Steve Young and Alvin the Chipmunk have to learn how to deal with it. But the worms are going to destroy the town and hopefully tone down the southern accents.
Squirm isn't necessarily a bad movie, well, I think it's one of those movies that it's so bad that it's actually good. Just the way the actors present a lot of the lines are a little distracting and get a good unintentional laugh like "Yer gonna be da worm face!" was said a little oddly. This is a great Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode I would recommend, but as a film, it's worth a look if you're into a cheesy drive in flick type of movie, otherwise, don't expect too much.
You wouldn't know it from the description, but SQUIRM manages to be scary, fun, gross, and engaging all at once. Scare shots are timed to a tee and both the conflict of the film and the characters involved in it are executed with as much style and excellent timing as could be expected for a film about killer worms. The scene where worms burrow into Roger's face, and the one where the bathtub is quickly filling up with worms are really effective. Your local video store probably sold off this one years ago along with other slow-renting titles to make room for hundreds of copies of "Sleepless in Seattle," though, so if you see a copy and are looking for a good scare, pick it up.
Against FOOD OF THE GODS, DOGS, KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS, the irrepressible
SLUGS and other nature-gone-berserk flicks, SQUIRM stands
The worms are the thing here, but their existence does not short-change the film's acting, storyline and characterizations. Director Jeff Lieberman, a fellow of immense cinematic intelligence (BLUE SUNSHINE, JUST BEFORE DAWN), has crafted a smart, stylish little thriller that delivers on its promise.
Rick Baker's worms are very impressive and Lieberman knows when to reveal them and when to keep them -- literally -- in the dark.
The set-up is simple. Following a filthy, dirty storm, downed powerlines send bolts of electricity into the earth. Shocked worms turn rabid and begin to menace "us".
The film is exceptionally well photographed and acted, the rural setting works beautifully, and the climax packs a punch.
Solid filmmaking all 'round.
A vicious storm downs a power line near a very small Georgia town. It
(somehow) drives all the worms crazy and turns them into vicious man-eaters!
The town is cut off from civilization and the worms attack...
The plot is just silly (flesh-eating WORMS? Come on!) but the film never takes itself TOO seriously. A lot of the dialogue is very tongue in cheek, and there are LOTS of close-ups of screaming worms (news to me--I didn't know worms could scream). So it's really hard to take any of this seriously.
The acting is all pretty bad (even Jean Sullivan the one "name" in the cast) and the plot moves in fits and starts. And it does take a while to really get going. But when the attacks happen things really get going. There are some pretty good, if disgusting, special effects (one VERY disturbing scene shows worms burrowing into a guys FACE) and seeing literally MOUNTAINS of worms squirming around is kind of queasy.
It you take this film literally you're gonna hate it. But if you accept it for the low-budget, slightly campy film it is you'll probably have a fairly good time. Worth seeing at least once for the gruesome special effects.
I saw the PG rated one on cable which (I heard) is one minute shorter than the R rated one. Purportedly all that's missing is some minor nudity (some of which was in the PG one) and some swearing. All the gore is still there.
Reading some of the negative reviews for Squirm, I can't help but wonder
some people tend to prejudge it just because its "one of those 70's bug
flicks". I saw this movie at the theater when it was first released, and
watching it now on video, it still holds up today as a very well made
The set locations were perfect for giving that "small town down south" feeling. And, though the acting by some of the locals left something to be desired, I thought the main characters did a very good job, especially considering the type of movie this was. The music score was terrific and gave the film some great moments. The photography was very good, and probably one of the best using low-light scenes with only candles. And the special effects hold up very well by today's standards.
O.K., I'll point out a few negatives. Some of the dialog is hilariously bad, and tends to stereotype "southerners". Of course, as with most of these types of films, the science doesn't hold up, but thats why its called "science FICTION".
In closing, I can highly recommend this movie to any fan of sci-fi-nature-strikes-back and horror movies. But please, watch it with an open mind- you'll enjoy it better.
Definitely not MST3K material.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This exceptional killer worm flick marked the auspicious and impressive
debut of great, shamefully unsung B-horror picture writer/director Jeff
Lieberman, who followed up this slimy winner with the outstanding
homicidal hippie acidhead landmark "Blue Sunshine" and the wickedly
subversive, gender role reversal wackos-in-the-woods "Deliverance"
variant "Just Before Dawn," plus also blessed us with the nifty 80's
direct-to-video item "Remote Control" and the recent funky hoot
"Satan's Little Helper." This skin-crawling delight rates highly as the
best, creepiest and most deftly executed of the many revolt-of-nature
fright films that were hugely popular and fashionable throughout the
A whole lot of wriggling worms, juiced into a lethal, carnivorous, mankind-devouring frenzied mass by an electric cable downed in a fierce rain storm, nosh on the sleazy, boorish, hideously unfriendly local yokels which populate a drab little Georgia backwoods armpit hamlet. The premise sounds pretty awful, but Lieberman's hardy, adroit direction, wittily well-observed script, occasional dollops of wry black humor that sardonically poke fun at the plot's inherent absurdity (skeptical good-for-nothing sheriff Peter MacLean first hears about the vicious invertebrates while ravenously eating a teeming plate of spaghetti, a truly inspired spoof of the famous "Psycho" shower sequence has worms instead of water seeping out of the shower head), and a welcome dearth of pompous, heavy-handed moralizing which tends to mar several similar nature-runs-amuck eco-scare tales (e.g., the horrendously portentous "Frogs") make a world of difference, thereby converting the unpromising plot into a most pleasant surprise indeed. Moreover, the worm attack set pieces are disgustingly convincing and thus quite jolting (the horrific highlight occurs when vile redneck degenerate R.A. Dow has his face feasted on by the grody flesh-eating buggers), the refreshingly unmacho, but still resourceful Don ("He Knows You're Alone") Scardino as the bright, bookish, hopelessly out-of-his-element college educated New York city boy hero and ravishing redhead Patricia ("Cockfighter") Pearcy as Scardino's sweet, smart, fetching Southern belle girlfriend give nicely appealing performances, Joseph Mangine's crisp, evocative cinematography vividly captures a tangibly grungy and uninviting shabby small stickville town gone to seed atmosphere, Rick Baker's stand-out, often startling special make-up effects are typically first-rate (a post chewed-up Dow, dubbed "Wormface," makes for a notably ghastly sight to behold), there's a beautifully eerie opening credits sequence (the odd, austere children's song played during the credits is positively haunting), and the all-around sound acting is up to snuff. All in all, this honey really makes the grade as a genuinely frightening and very satisfying terror treat.
In the small town of Georgia, there was a violent storm in the night
and when the power lines falls in the ground. There's millions of earth
worms are coming out of the ground. In the next day, Mick (Don
Scardino) is a young man from New York City. Who's meeting his lovely
girlfriend Geri (Patricia Pearcy), her mother (The late Jean Sullivan)
and her sister (Fran Higgins). Which Mick is staying for a couple of
days, but when he goes sight-seeing with his girlfriend. They found
skeleton and when they told their story to the local sheriff (Peter
MacLean). Who's doesn't believe a word of their story. When Mick gets
bitten from a worm, he believes that it might has something to do the
skeleton they found. But once it's turns night, there's millions of
earth worms are coming out of the night and attack the civilians of
this small town. Which now Mick and his girlfriend's family are trying
to stay alive until the next morning comes.
Written and Directed by Jeff Lieberman (Blue Sunshine, Just Before Dawn, Remote Control) made an decent entertainment horror movie that is intentionally silly at times but it also has some good shock sequences. Lieberman actually takes his time to get the know the characters well enough before they killed or actually by these disgusting worms in the movie. Sure, there's problems in his script. But the cast is good (especially Scardino) and it has good gross make-up effects by Six Time Oscar-Winner:Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, Hellboy, Planet of the Apes "2001"). Some people find this movie so awful that is was actually shown in "Mystery Science Theater 3000". Sure, the movie is actually much more sillier today but i think it's genuinely well made for its time and seeing the character of Roger (D.A. Grimes), who was attacked by worms twice is a bit too much. But it does some good shock values and i did have the occasional jump scare in my chair. Horror fans will enjoy more than the others. It's worth a look. (*** ½/*****).
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