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Squirm is another of exploitation studio American International Pictures “nature gone amok” films that were popular in the mid 70s along with Frogs and The Food Of The Goods. It’s story begins when a freak storm hits the rural, coastal town of Fly Creek, Georgia and it knocks down electrical power lines sending thousands of volts into the ground, driving the local worm population into a maddened frenzy. And since the local worm population consists mostly of “pinworms and blood worms”…which explains the gruesome fangs our featured worms have to pick their prey clean, right down to the skeletons. This is not good for the local human population, most of whom make their living selling said worms for bait. Looks like the tide has turned! And if that’s not bad enough, pretty Georgia peach, Geri (Patricia Pearcy) and new boyfriend Mick (Don Scardino) not only have an avalanche of murderous worms to contend with, but the jealous attentions of simpleton, handyman Roger (R.A. Dow) who is also driven crazy by a face full of angry blood worms. This is going to be a very bad day for Geri, Mick and the citizens of Fly Creek.
Written and Directed by Jeff Lieberman, who also made the trippy Blue Sunshine, Squirm is a pedestrian paced horror that takes a really long time to get going, but does provide quite a few creepy moments simply due to the nature of it’s slimy villains. The body count in this low budget thriller is fairly low with most of the deaths happening off-screen, though there are a few gruesome moments courtesy of make-up FX master Rick Baker. Lieberman does gives us a number of skin-crawling moments though, with tidal waves of worms and having the slimy critters come pouring out of shower heads at the least opportune moments. If those scenes won’t get you creeped out, the numerous close-ups of fanged shrieking bloodworms certainly will. Throw in some nice 70s nostalgia and the film does provide some entertainment though, it’s low budget, slow pace and anti-climactic ending keep it from really being the B-Movie treat it’s premise promises.
The acting is fairly wooden across the board with everyone, including pretty lead Pearcy speaking in a slow, monotone, Southern drawl. Actor Peter MacLean overacts a bit as the local jerk of a sheriff, but it’s not enough to score points in the camp department, though some moments from R.A. Dow’s ‘Roger’ do…especially when he’s acting with a face full of worms. And as for the worms, they clearly are the most effective performers and elicit quite a few “Ewwwww’s” when they appear, especially in large flowing numbers.
Overall, Squirm is a moderately creepy and amusing “nature run amok” flick with a few gruesome moments and plenty of slimy worms to get us through it’s slowly paced 90 minutes. It is a cult classic and it’s waves of carnivorous worms do stick with you, but it’s not quite the gross-out treat it could have been with a bit larger budget and a director who could instill a little more life into the proceedings. Certainly worth a nostalgic look and definitely works within an evening of like features, but a little disappointing if you were expecting more. You might find the MST3K version far more entertaining!
2 and 1/2 fanged blood worms… ewwwww!.