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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.
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 ****
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 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.
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.
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.
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/*****).
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.
"Squirm" is a lame and laughable trash movie about carnivorous worms. The silly story associated to the poor performances and annoying accent makes this film terrible to see and hear; however it is cult for many viewers. But the gorgeous Patricia Pearcy makes it worthwhile watching. My vote is four.
Title (Brazil): "A Noite do Terror Rastejante" ("The Night of the Terror Crawly")