Squirm (1976)

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Squirm (1976)
Cast: Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcy, R. A Dow, Jean Sullivan
Director: Jeff Lieberman
Nutshell: Freak storm turns creepy crawlies into flesh craving monsters…eek!

“above average…builds to good shock sequences” Maltin

“far better and more interesting than the obvious shlock appeal its plot would suggest” Time Out

“You won’t be disappointed” Splatter Movies

“very creepy and atmospheric, Squirm is an underrated trash classic ” Uncut

“ludicrous but fun cinema” Creature Features

“ugly movie ” Video Movies Guide

 

Squirm begins as flashes of lightning repeatedly illuminate the angry sky as buckets of rain lash down upon flea bitten Fly Creek, Georgia. The old timers swear they never seen nothing like it since they can remember. The horrendous rainstorm causes serious havoc with the electricity supply, snapping power cables and sending massive surges of voltage into the drenched earth. The layer of earth below the surface is thus electrified causing millions of earthworms and all sorts of other creepy crawlies to go AWOL and turn into mass of man-eating muck.

A ditzy southern belle eagerly awaits her city boyfriend hoping to take the budding relationship to the next level by having him visit their home in Georgia and meeting the family consisting of dementia ridden mother and pot-head sister Alma. As is normal for films of this nature, the city boy (Don Scardino) is met with cold suspicion and disdain by gnarled, scowling locals and treated as a pariah. None the less, good-natured Scardino bears up to the abuse due to his inexplicable infatuation with a woman who looks like she could be his mother. We are shown the occasional worm footage as the film meanders for the fist 40 minutes introducing various dull characters and potential worm fodder. We also discover that the redhead has an avid admirer in local garden hand Roger who becomes dangerously possessive when city boy Scardino shows up. The ageing siren is certainly flattered by the attention and revels in the fact that she is such the wanted queen bee while jealous uglier sister doesn’t even come close. Just as her ego reaches bursting point weird things start to happen.

The redhead is in the middle of some serious flirting with George that gets a little out of hand and she sends him flying to the floor of their tiny boat where he is set upon by bloodthirsty worms that proceed to drill holes through his face in a most impressive display of primitive special effects. Poor George is seen tugging at the vile worms boring into his skin, tunnelling into his face as he runs into the forest screaming for mercy. The red head escapes and joins her city boyfriend but unknown to them, nightfall brings untold horror in the form of wave upon, wave of worms – literally hundreds of thousands of them all craving human flesh to feast upon.

After a ponderous 45 minutes or so, the film finally starts to get moving with the superb worm face attack scene after which the pace doesn’t slacken too much. The worm effects are fairly convincing with literally truck loads of crawlies being summoned to head the films cast. The film is apparently based on a true incident when a freak storm caused damage resulting in massive surges of power being driven into the earth which then tickled the subterranean creepy crawly inhabitants to go crazy and start arriving by the million to the surface. The bit about them turning into flesh eating monsters might be taking wee liberties with the truth for the sake of entertainment! So, we’re told, (and we fully accept) that this is a true story.

Don Scardino plays the likeable city geek fairly well and repeated almost the same persona he played in He Knows You’re Alone a few years later. Patricia Pearcy is an effective and suitably drab lusting redhead that prefers to have two boyfriends rather than just a boring solitary one. The mother’s character is also a frustrated, lusting old bat that can barely keep her desire under wraps. Alma, the pothead manages to maintain her calm in Dullsville, Georgia by smoking herself silly.

The film manages to get by on mainly the rather impressive worm footage and their sheer numbers as well as the weird loopiness of the characters the film focuses on. Far from being a monster movie classic the film does have its moments and manages to hold its own, if only just. Would have done for showers what Psycho did, problem is no one bothered to watch the film to begin with. On the whole Squirm is a fair B-movie effort far superior to other genre notables such as Blood Beach but no match for The Deadly Spawn. However this one is pretty good as far as killer worm movies are concerned.