THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
Squirm holds a unique place in movie history. Unless I'm missing something, it's the only horror movie ever to try making worms scary. I'm not talking about giant worms, just regular, ordinary, dig-'em-up-in-your-backyard worms. Perhaps needless to say, the film doesn't exactly succeed on that count. This is not something that will have you screaming in terror. In fairness, though, it appropriately scores well enough on the squirm-meter, using the slimy little things to produce some decent cringe-worthy fun. Squirm is available on October 28 in a collector's edition Blu-Ray from Scream Factory.
The story takes place in the small town of Fly Creek, Georgia, where the women, in particular, have incredibly thick accents. (It's a wonder none of them say, “Well, I do declare...”) Young Geri Sanders (Patricia Pearcy) is thrilled when boyfriend Mick (Don Scardino) comes down South to visit her. Unfortunately, a massive storm has knocked over some power lines, sending electricity surging through the wet soil and driving all the worms up from the ground. Now crazed from the jolts, they begin terrorizing the town, munching on the flesh of anyone they come in contact with (and, in one well-known scene, ruining Mick's chocolate egg cream, to his ongoing distress). There are at least several hundred thousand of them, meaning that Fly Creek's residents are all in grave danger. Only Geri and Mick understand what's happening, and they have to battle the town sheriff (Peter MacLean) to get something done about it.
Squirm is a curious movie because, seen today, it works on two completely different levels. On one hand, parts of it are cheesy as can be. The performances are often humorously stiff. The makeup effects, used to make it appear that worms are burrowing into people's skin, are something much less than convincing. Use of worm closeups, with a joint human scream/horse neigh sound effect dubbed over top, is hilariously goofy. You can definitely watch Squirm and laugh at what now appears to be old-fashioned grindhouse silliness.
But here's the catch: worms are kind of gross, and the movie has a couple of legitimately icky shock scenes. It looks like the production created millions of rubber worms for shots of them pouring out of someone's closet, carpeting a house's living room, and swallowing up one or two unlucky victims. It's impressive. There's no denying that such moments, no pun intended, get under your skin and give you the heebie-jeebies.
Is Squirm a great movie? No. Is it worth watching? Absolutely. Whether it's good or bad at any given moment, the film is always highly amusing. Scream Factory's Blu-Ray looks really good, considering the movie's low-budget, grainy origin. This is a fun release of a uniquely oddball picture.
Squirm hits Blu-Ray on October 28, and comes with a few nifty bonus goodies. Writer/director Jeff Lieberman provides a full-length audio commentary, and there's a still gallery of behind-the-scenes photos. The original theatrical trailer and a TV spot are here, as well.
“Eureka!” is a short segment in which Lieberman revisits his childhood home to explain where the inspiration for Squirm came from. It involves a childhood science experiment, which he recreates on camera. “Digging In” is a retrospective look at the movie, featuring interviews with Lieberman and Don Scardino. They tell all kinds of stories about making this quirky movie and achieving the signature grossout moments.
For more information on this title, please visit the Scream Factory website.
Squirm is rated R for language, nudity/sexuality, and gore. The running time is 1 hour and 32 minutes.
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