Squirm (1976)

Squirm

Written and Directed by Jeff Lieberman

Tagline: “This was the night of the CRAWLING TERROR!”

Run Time: 92 min

“There’s a lot of spaghetti here…it may take us ten, fifteen minutes to finish it. Now that’s a bigger head start then you deserve!”
– Sheriff


What can I say? This movie seemed too bad to pass by. I used to think that the most ‘non-scary’ monster I had seen were giant grasshoppers in "Beginning of the End", but I was mistaken. In "Squirm", the antagonists are worms. I repeat: worms. I don’t mean giant worms…I don’t mean worms with mutated mouth-parts capable of rending flesh from bone…I speaking of worms. The kind that birds eat. The kind that wriggle around on the sidewalk on rainy mornings (that you desperately try to avoid stepping on…yech!)

Somehow, the writers thought that a worm’s obvious lack of threatening attributes could be compensated for by simply having more of them. In other words, if 1 worm can’t kill you, then 1000 worms could. This theory may hold true for other small creatures, ants, spiders, birds… but worms? To overcome this plot shortcoming, the story suggests that electricity can transform the worms into aggressive carnivores. How or why this transformation occurs is never explained, it’s simply a convenient method to advance the plot.

The story itself revolves around a lovely little shit-hole town in Georgia called "Fly Creek". (How charming.) One day, without reason, there is a terrible lightning storm which transforms the common earthworms in the area into cunning, aggressive killers that begin feeding on the locals.

The actors that portray the local (red neck) population ham it up pretty good. Almost every line of dialog has a "ya’ll" or an "over yonder…". The rural Southern dialects are so over the top it becomes distracting rather than convincing, leaving the viewer wondering if this movie wasn’t really meant to be a tongue-in-cheek spoof.

Take the terrible acting, the ridiculous dialects, the shaky plot, and toss in a huge amount of writhing worms (and not just worms, I did see not a few centipedes and millipedes mixed into the mess) and you have a recipe for a terrible film. So let’s get going!

The Cast:

Don Scardino Mick (Don Scardino)

The biggest wimp, geek, knuckle-head to ever make his way to Fly Creek. A "City Boy" from New York (yeah right!), he comes down to Fly Creek to visit Geri and take a look at some antiques. Gee. Sounds like fun.

Patricia Pearcy Geri Sanders (Patricia Pearcy)

Miss "Flat-Butt", falls in love with Mick after he comes down to visit her. Only she could make a shower scene boring. Seems to have trouble keeping her ‘Southern’ accent from drifting into a pseudo-Elizabethian-Mark-Twain-hybrid dialect.

R.A. Dow Roger Grimes (R.A. Dow)

Geri’s neighbor, and worm farmer, Roger is the quintessential "local yokel". Man, where did they dig up this dude. Roger is attacked by worms and turns into a crazed ‘worm man’. I wish I was making all this up but I’m not.

Peter MacLean Sheriff (Peter MacLean)

Sleazy, sleazy, sleazy. Fly Creek’s one and only law enforcer, this guy makes my skin crawl. Not exactly a candidate for "Law Enforcement Officer of the Year", eventually gets devoured by worms while having sex in a jail cell.

Carl Dagenhart Willie Grimes (Carl Dagenhart)

Roger’s father and owner of the Grimes’s Worm Farm. Old Willie gets eaten up by worms. I just wanted you to see this guy.

Our lovely feature presentation begins with an ominous wad of scrolling exposition:
"Late in the evening of September 29, 1975, a sudden electrical storm struck a rural sea coast area of Georgia. Power lines, felled by high winds, sent hundreds of thousands of volts surging into the muddy ground, cutting off all electricity to the small, secluded town of Fly Creek. During the period that followed the storm, the citizens of Fly Creek experienced what scientists believe to be one of the most bizarre freaks of nature ever recorded.
This is the story…."

Said exposition is confirmed by a montage of storm-and-lightning scenes that immediately follow the opening scroll, followed by the spartan title credit in bold red letters. Scary stuff. The credits appear over a mixture of stock footage storm scenes and various shots of the town of Fly Creek itself (and some odd looking worms dubbed with ‘screaming’ sounds! I kid you not!). (Oddly, nearly every building has lights on, despite being told that the city had lost all power.) There is also an odd song being sung in the background, which means that there could be a "Squirm" soundtrack (now that is terrifying!)

The credits continue…and continue..and finally end. Could so many people really want to be associated with this film?

Ahh, that’s better, the credits are over and we see a large yellow house (ok, a huge yellow house), bathed in the early morning sunlight. We segue inside and see our skinny, red-headed heroine, Geri, taking a showing (or at least her ‘stunt double’, her body is slightly obscured by the translucent shower curtain.) It’s hard to believe that watching a woman take a shower could be so boring, yet ‘Squirm’ accomplishes that feat…

SquirmOut in the yard, the local yokel, Roger, is busy pulling up weeds, or food, or something from the yard. Geri’s mother, Naomi, whom I will refer to as ‘Maw’ from now on, pokes her head out the kitchen window and offers Roger a cool drink; an offer he accepts as soon as he is finished with "…this buunnnch." (Try to say ‘bunch’ with the corniest Southern accent you can muster.)

Inside the palatial house, Geri and Maw are cleaning up in the kitchen. Maw complains that since the power is out the food will "spawwlll" in the heat. (It’s impossible to ‘type’ out these horrendous, hammed-up, Southern drawls that the ‘characters’ use in this film. It’s excruciating to listen to.)

Ahh, now we get to the meat of the movie, so to speak. It turns out that Geri has met a city-boy at the antique fair (!), Mick. (Oddly credited with no last name, simply ‘Mick’, while the other characters have 2 names…yup, that’s what I think about while watching movies like this.) When Geri mentions that Mick is coming down to spend a few days "in the country" (who the hell would want to spend 5 days in Fly Creek?), Maw drops the plate she was drying, and it smashes on the tile floor.

Geri, suddenly with a dust pan in her hand (nice editing), bends down to help clean up the porcelain remains. Maw doesn’t want to give Geri the impression that she doesn’t approve of Mick’s visit, so she blames her jumpiness of the previous night’s thunder (?). It’s just that Maw doesn’t want Geri to get her feelings hurt if Mick doesn’t show up like he said he would. (What? You mean he was just saying he wanted to visit her in Fly Creek just to get laid? Say it isn’t so!) In actuality, it’s not discussed exactly why Mick is coming for a visit (Note From Future: Mick’s there to look at some of Geri’s antiques. (Yawn.))

Maw walks to the door and looks out in consternation. You see, she can’t stop thinking about the storm, she goes on to say that there is "something evil about it"…Well, this is completely ludicrous. The storm, no matter how big it was, simply knocked down a power-line thus pissing off a bunch of worms. It’s not like some malevolent force sent the worms as a plague upon the good people of Fly Creek…the so called ‘monsters’ in this movie were created by bad luck, not by an evil power.

Anyway, down comes Geri’s sister, Alma. Geri wonders if Roger could borrow his truck so she can "cut through the woods and meet Mick on route 41…". Alma, who looks like she and a broom once took a trip through a Brendel transporter from "The Fly", responds with "I don’t know, ask Roger." Such insightful dialog! Auteur! Auteur! This movie is such a joy to watch!

SquirmAt this junction, in walks Roger, apparently finished working with that last ‘buunnnncchhh’. He exchanges some witless dialog with Alma (Alma: "Where’d you’d get that shirt…out robbing corpses again?" Roger:"How’s your pimples?" Yes, this all makes no sense.), while Maw sits down to do some knitting. Geri coyly asks Roger to borrow his truck to pick up somebody "on route 41", but carefully avoids mentioning that it’s a man she’s picking up, so as to not stir up Roger’s jealousy.

Well, Alma lets the cat out of the bag and mentions that this mystery guest is in fact a man named Mick. Now that the secret is out, Geri abashedly asks Roger again if she can borrow his truck. He reluctantly gives her the keys, warning her to be careful with the "shipment" (a worm shipment, that is. He’s a worm farmer, dontcha know!). Geri takes the keys and makes a quick exit from this embarrassing moment. (Not like this scene successfully portrayed a sense of embarrassment, except for the awful acting and those ridiculous accents that they are using.)

SquirmCut to Mick on the bus to Fly Creek. Unfortunately for the travelers there is a fallen tree blocking the flooded road. (Wow! A fallen tree and a flooded road! How will Mick ever get to Fly Creek now!?) The bus driver has no choice but to turn around and head back to Poolerville (or something..I don’t remember the name and I’m sure as hell not going to go back and watch that scene again just to find out!) Mick jumps out of his seat and says that he’ll just get off here. He pulls his luggage out of the overhead racks: a suitcase, fishing poles, and a tennis racket (??!!), and gets off the bus. (While disembarking, Mick unwittingly smacks nearly everybody in the head with his fishing pole, because, well, it’s funny.) The bus driver points out that Fly Creek is about 5 miles ("mahhlls") straight ahead, but Mick could take a short-cut through the woods, in which case it’s only a half-mile journey. (That’s quite a short cut! Why didn’t they just build the road in that direction?)

To further stress the ‘hero out of his element’ tone, Mike asks the bus driver if there is a restroom in the area. The bus driver gives him a look which says ‘stupid city boy’ and drives off in disgust. You see, any self-respecting country boy would just ‘whip it out’ while in the woods if he had to take a leak. Mick, being from the city, would never think of pissing anywhere else but in a restroom. Har dee har!

SquirmMore hilarity ensues as we see Mick trudging through the woods, burdened with all of his useless city "stuff". Mike somehow manages to fall into a chest deep hole filled with water (?), and looks up to see Geri laughing at his misfortune. Mick hauls himself up out of the hole and pleasantries are exchanged. After walking for a while, I guess, they reach Roger’s truck that Geri borrowed in order to pick him up. Needless to say, the truck looks like a losing entry from the "Junk Yard Challenge" show. When Mick asks who owns the truck, Geri tells him about Robert, their neighbor, and the worm farm he owns. (Hmmm…a worm farm right next to Geri’s house…I wonder if that is going to be a factor in this movie?)

On the way home, Geri mentions that they have to stop in town to buy some ice because the electricity is still out. (Mick: "I like a good thunderstorm…it makes you feel…helpless.") Downtown Fly Creek appears to be a real shit hole. Just thought I’d mention that. (Ok, the film was filmed in Port Wentworth, Georgia, so please, if you live there, don’t send me hate mail. I never meant to deride the fine township of Port Wentworth, but if you allow a film titled "Squirm" to be filmed in your town, then you’re kind of asking for it.)

Instead of waiting in the truck, like any sane city person would do, he decides to pop into the local diner and get a feel for the local folk. Inside the diner is the sleazy, and I mean sleazy, Sheriff. (Credited simply as ‘Sheriff’. How imaginative.) The Sheriff is sitting, drinking coffee, and pinching the waitresses ass whenever she walks by. (How did they brew coffee without electricity?)

Sitting at the bar, Mick listens to the Sheriff and the Waitress discuss the damage from the storm. It appears that one of the huge power-line towers was toppled during the storm and is still ‘hot’, thus running massive amounts of electricity into the ground. (You would think the power company would have shut down power to that section of the grid, but what do I know?)

When a lull in the conversation comes around, Mick spins around on his stool a couple of times (??) and orders "an egg cream and a glass of water." (Ok! Ok, already! I get it! He’s a ‘fish out of water’…Enough!) When the waitress expresses her ignorance in the ways of making an "egg cream", Mick explains the process (basically chocolate syrup and soda water "with a shot of milk to give it a head"..gag) and she proceeds to whip one up for him.

SquirmMick receives his beverage and takes a sip. He immediately throws down the glass in disgust and nearly jumps from his seat. Wriggling in the spilled chocolate milk is a worm. (It’s actually a centipede, but oh well.) We cut to a close up shot of some entirely different type of ‘worm’ complete with a dubbed ‘screaming’ sound. (Screaming worms??? Give me a freakin’ break!)

Now, before Mick takes a drink you can plainly see the worm laying on the bottom of the glass, so in reality, he wouldn’t have noticed there was a worm in his drink until he drank his way all the way to the bottom. Then again, in reality worms don’t scream and kill people.

Anyway, the waitress accuses Mick of being a "comedian" (which I can say he definitely is not) and insists that he put the worm there himself (?). The commotion has now come to the attention of the Sheriff (man, I wish they had given that character a name…), who saunters over to find out what this city boy is doing down in good ol’ Fly Creek. Mick manages to weasel his way out of the diner without causing anymore trouble, but he certainly has been targeted by the Sheriff for further harassment. (Oh boy. I can’t wait.)

With a potentially explosive situation now defused, we cut to see Mick and Geri have made it home without further trouble. Geri introduces Mick to Alma and Maw, but he can’t shake anybody’s hands because he’s carrying the big block of ice that Geri bought. (My sides! Stop! Ho! Ho!) After Mick puts away the ice, Geri remembers that they have an appointment at "the Beardsley place" to look at some antiques. Running late, Geri and Mick rush off to said location, but not before Mick plants a big kiss on her mouth; a kiss not entirely unwanted by Geri. (Yech)

As Mick and Geri are driving away in the family station wagon (one of those hideous 1970’s station wagon’s with the fake wood side paneling…), Roger runs up and starts chewing out Geri for ruining his truck load of worms. Not understanding what Roger’s so upset about, they park the car and run over to see what all the fuss is about.

Roger is standing beside his junker truck with the cargo doors open, revealing the horrible truth: all of his worms are missing! Standing beside the truck is Roger’s irate father, Willie, who’s pissed off because he lost over 100,000 worms, costing him nearly $300! (I do declare!) Roger explains the situation using some Classic Lines, but Geri and Mick insist that they had nothing to do with the missing worms. (Mick says that he certainly didn’t let them out, but Roger is not satisfied and inquires: "If younn didn’t, den who did?" (Please, please, shoot me now.)

SquirmFor some reason, old man Willie puts the blame on his son Roger, and chews him out for letting the worms out. (I don’t know what’s happening here. It’s not like these characters are a group of Mensa members.) Roger gets his ass chewed out for a while for lending the truck to Geri while Mick and Geri watch in embarrassed silence. (It’s gonna take Willie nearly a whole week to replace the worms. How does somebody replace 100,000 worms anyway?) After chewing out Roger (blowing his lines a couple times in the process), Willie stomps off leaving Roger to mull over what’s happened. Geri apologizes again before she and Mick pile back into the station wagon (blue with fake wood panel, ack!) and drive off.

Upon reaching the Beardsley manor (a rusty tin-roofed shack, of course, because you know, nobody in Georgia has a house) they find that Beardsley is not at home. Not wanting to miss out this golden opportunity to see the renowned Beardsley Antique Collection, Geri looks around back while Mick peers into the front windows. Suddenly, a scream from Geri sends Mick scurrying around the house to see what the trouble is.

Mick and Geri a startled to find a skeleton laying half-submerged in the goopy Georgia mud. Mick probes the bones with his finger (yuch! C’mon dude!) as he and Geri try to figure out who it is. (Duh!) They eventually come to the conclusion that the best course of action would be to fetch the Sheriff.

Cut to see the Sheriff pulling up to the Beardsley place. Geri and Mick lead him "out back" and show him where the skeleton is laying. <Gasp!> The skeleton is gone! The Sheriff immediately suspects that Mick is playing another ‘game’. (Really though, why the hell would Mick want to do something like that?) The Sheriff tells Mick to get the hell out of Fly Creek (can they do that?). Fortunately for Mick and Geri, the Sheriff decides to let them off with a warning since "it’s too hot" (!!). As the Sheriff turns to leave he gives Mick one final incomprehensible warning: "Now, if I see you even one more time…you won’t even be able to call a city lawyer…because the all the phones are dead!" (??) OK. If you say so.

SquirmNext scene. Moving right along now. Looks like Mick and Geri have tracked down Roger at the local watering hole. Mick apologizes about the whole worm ‘incident’ by solemnly saying he’s "sorry about those worms." Fair enough. In an effort to mend some fences, Geri and Mick invite Roger along for a fishing trip. Roger enthusiastically heads off to the bait shop in order to "get some stuff and things."

While Roger is at the bait shop, Mick and Geri go out to the truck to try and figure out what happened to the worms. (C’mon, would Mick really give a crap about what happened to a bunch of damned worms?) Mick opens the back doors and pokes around inside only to reveal a skeleton! (The same skeleton from the Beardsley place.) Along comes old man Grimes with some boxes, so Mick covers the skeleton back up and hides on the other side of the truck. Grimes tosses the boxes into the back of the truck and stomps off again.

So, does Willie Grimes know about the skeleton? Is he the one who moved it there? Do you care?

Geri suggests telling the Sheriff, but Mick poo-poo’s that plan by saying "Tell him what?" (Huh?)

Anyway, the opt to go fishing with Roger instead. Aha! The fishing trip is only a ploy to keep Roger occupied until Mick can make his way back to the Grimes house to investigate. (Or something. Don’t ask.) Out on the boat, Mick takes on some bug spray (because he’s a city boy) while he comments on the stench of the water. Geri explains that it’s low-tide…and she doesn’t even understand how the fish could live in the rank water. Roger, with his rapier wit, retorts, "Maybe they come from New York!" Get it? You don’t? Me neither.

SquirmMick takes out a box of worms and offers Roger the honor of setting them on the hooks since he’s a "professional." Roger demurs, noting that he hates worms…in fact, he finds them disgusting! Ok, whatever. Geri finally takes charge and hooks her own worm. Not to be outdone, Mick grabs a chubby night-crawler from the box and is promptly bitten! In fact, the thing takes a good chunk of his arm and gives him a nasty wound. (How did a worm manage to do that?) Roger, calmly watching the whole nasty episode, mentions that he’s seen worms bite like that before…allow me to quote Roger’s terrifying tale (please imagine this dialog spoken in an wayyyy over the top Southern dialect:

When I was little, my daddy just started the worm farm, experimentin’ with ways of gettin’ em out of the ground. Tried electricity. Took my train transformer and hooked it up. Then he wet down the ground, and set back, and waited til it get dark…They come out of the ground all right! Like roaches up a drain pipe! And pretty near cut off all my thumb.

At the conclusion of this riveting tale, Roger shows him his left-thumb which is missing the end joint. (You mean to tell me worms bit off the end of his thumb? Gimme a break!)

It suddenly dawns on Mick that this would be a good opportunity to slip away and do some sleuthing, so he says he wants to go to shore and put some antiseptic on the worm bite and to also "take a nap." (!) Geri, not particularly enthusiastic over the idea of spending the afternoon fishing with Roger, reluctantly agrees to the plan as Roger rows Mick to shore. Mike gets out of the boat, cradling his wounded arm (it’s a freakin worm bite, you big wussy!), while Roger cheerfully paddles off with a none-too-excited Geri.

Safely out of sight, Mick scampers back to the Grimes place to investigate. Seeing that the coast is clear, Mick hops into the back of the worm truck, closes the doors, and flicks on his lighter to take a closer look at the remains.

For some unexplained reason, Mick first pops off the bottom jaw from the skull (!), and then twists off the skull itself (!!). What information he could possibly glean from this act of corpse desecration is beyond me.

Having found what he needs, (Ok, I get it. I think he’s taking the skull to the Sheriff for proof. Maybe.) Mick jumps out of the truck and is startled by Alma. (Um, who just happened to be poking around the Grime’s worm truck?) Mick tries to hide the skull under his shirt (!), but this clever ruse is quickly discovered by the alert Alma who says that "Roger isn’t going to dig" the fact that Mick took the skull from his truck. (Huh? Did I miss something here?) Anyway, Mick, with Alma tagging along, scurry off to find the Sheriff.

I’m not even half way through the movie yet.

That’s a little depressing.

But not as depressing as having to watch Roger the Worm Farmer putting the moves on Geri "Flat Butt" Sanders.

Yes, as Geri half-heartedly fishes in the mucky water, Roger cuddles up behind her and unloads his heart to Geri. What they don’t notice is that the worms have crawled out of the bait box and are making their way across the boat and over to their feet. (Is this suppose to be ‘scary’?) Roger, in an effort to swoon Geri, even has a surprise ("soo-prize!") for her. Having distracted Geri with talk of a "soo-prise", Roger tries to kiss Geri, an advance that she quickly rejects. The now hot and frustrated Roger roughly grabs her and says that if Mick comes near her again he’ll "bust his liver loose!" (Sounds painful!)

We see that the worms are still crawling towards them (boy! Scary!), and now a strange noise is played on the soundtrack to indicate that the ‘worms are coming’ or something. Roger now forces a kiss on Geri (I really didn’t need to see that), but is quickly thrown down to the floor of the boat by the enraged red-head. Roger lands with a thud, lets out a scream of pain, and…and…we cut to see…

Mick and Alma pounding on the door to the local dentist office. The dentist’s office is closed because of the power outage, so Mick forces open a window and breaks in. ("Wow! Just like in New York!" shouts Alma with glee.) After Mick enters, in climbs Alma as well, giving us a much unwanted view of her patch-work covered rear end. Here, you can enjoy it too:

Squirm

Just sharing the full "Squirm" experience with you

After looking through the dentist’s file for, oh, 7 seconds, Mick finds the X-rays that match the teeth in the skull: Aaron Beardsley.

Yippee.

Oh yeah, Mick sets the skull on a tray and a centipede crawls out of the eye socket. Oooooo! Scary!!!!!

(Cut to a quick shot of a live power line sweeping back and forth across the forest floor. So…the power company still hasn’t cut off the power to the downed lines? Isn’t that like the first thing they do? Stupid movie.)

Now we see that Mick and Alma are making their back home. Walking along the side of the road, Mick cradles the skull in his shirt…yeah…don’t want to draw any attention to yourself.

Squirm

You’all don’t pay no mind to us…

As they reach the front yard, Geri bursts out of the house crying hysterically. She tries to tell Mick about Roger but sees the skull and runs back inside. Mick hands the skull to Alma and calms Geri enough so she can tell the story. As it so happens, Geri tells Mick that "the worms attacked Roger" and then he went screaming into the forest. (Um, since you guys were out fishing in in the river when it happened, I guess you were kind enough to row him back to shore so he could run into the woods?) Mick reassures Geri that she did the right thing by not chasing after Roger, noting that "If Roger can see, he’ll make it home too." (Huh? If he can see? What?)

At this point, in comes Alma and wants to know what they’re going to do with Beardsley’s skull. Geri freaks out when she realizes whose skull it is ("He was a beautiful person!"…oh brother!) All the commotion brings in Maw, forcing Alma to hide the skull behind her back. (Is this supposed to be funny?)

Geri defuses the situation by pretending they were arguing over who was going to fix dinner. Maw suggests Alma should do it, and oh yeah, make an extra side dish because Roger was also invited to dinner. (Was that in the beginning? Whatever. I’m not going back to see.) Maw exits the room, but not before saying in a sultry voice that "It’s been a long time since we’ve had…two hungry men over for dinner." (Talk about squirm! Yuch!)

SquirmAs Alma stays behind to fix dinner, Mick and Geri drive over to the Grimes Worm Farm to see if Roger managed to make his way home. Nobody appears to be home, but Mick does discover the body of old man Grimes. Mick notes a ‘squishy’ sound coming from the corpse and pulls back the shirt to reveal that the entire torso is being eaten away by worms. Mike freaks out and bashes the worms with a shovel a few times before running back to the car. He shoves Geri into the passenger seat and takes off with tires squealing. (On a dirt road?)

Mick races into town and finds the Sheriff having dinner at a particularly sleazy looking Italian restaurant. (How is a restaurant still open with no electricity?) As the Sheriff and his date (the actress playing the ‘date’ is credited as "The Sheriff’s Girl". Wow! ) dine on their spaghetti dinners, Mike retells the story of how he found Grimes’s body…covered by flesh eating worms! (Talk about no social grace.)

Now the Sheriff has had enough of Mick’s BS. He raises his fork and points it at Geri and Mick saying, "There’s a lot of spaghetti here…it may take us ten, fifteen minutes to finish it. Now that’s a bigger head start then you deserve!"

Nice continuity error. From one angle there is a piece of spaghetti hanging from the fork tines, while from the other angle the fork is clean. Ahhh…the small diamonds in the rough. It’s the small ‘high-points’ like these that make writing these reviews worth it.

Mick takes the hint and drives back out to the Beardsley place. (Can we please get on with it!) I have no idea what he’s looking for. With Geri in tow, he points out a closed door on the side of the house. He turns and asks Geri what’s behind the door, to which she replies, "I think that’s where he keeps his well water." Not satisfied with that answer, Mick responds queries "Any candles?" (Candles? What the hell? And how would Geri know where Beardsley kept his candles?)

Well, Mick reaches to open the door, stops, and then goes back to the car with Geri. (Yep. You figure this all out.) Via Mick’s thorough sleuthing, or lack there of, he deduces that Roger must have taken Beardsley’s skeleton and put it in the worm truck. Of course! "That must have been the surprise he was telling me about on the boat," shouts Geri. It turns out Roger was going to sell the skeleton at an auction (!!) where he "that thing could bring a hundred dollars…He was talking about going into the business!" (Huh? Um, isn’t the skeleton, um, what’s it called: evidence! And what "business" are you talking about Geri? The skeleton selling business?)

When Geri enquires as to who killed Beardsley in the first place, Mick drops the bombshell: "The worms!" (Ahhh! So that’s why the movie is called "Squirm"!)

Back at the dinner party, the somber guests (sans Roger, of course) are gathered around the table. Maw suggests that somebody run over to the Grimes’s to see where Roger is, but Geri comes up with the excuse that he "probably had to work late at the worm farm." (What? Was there a dead-line he had to make?). Satisfied with that, Maw and the others sit down and half-heartedly begin to eat dinner.

OK. Why are they keeping all this a secret from their mother? Why the deception? Who cares?

SquirmJust as they begin to eat, a gigantic tree topples over and crushes the dining room where they were sitting. (!!!) The shot showing the exterior of the house shows the tree falling onto an obviously bogus addition to a real house. Also, the sloping roof of the, ahem, dining room in now way matches the completely flat roof shown in the interior scenes. Just so you know.

And yes, the room that was destroyed is shown from the inside where you can see that the roof is indeed made of paper!

Fortunately, nobody was injured (or maybe I should say ‘unfortunately’). While Alma escorts a shocked Maw into the living room, Geri and Mick investigate the fallen tree. Sure enough, the entire root system has been eaten away by, yes, worms. In fact, the ground underneath the tree is a teeming mass of wriggling worms and centipedes. Mick runs to get some gasoline, but just as quickly as he can get a can from the shed, the worms disappear back into the ground. (Totally impossible given the number of worms they showed in the previous shot. Completely, utterly impossible.)

Mick jumps to the conclusion that the only thing "holding them back" is the light. (Hmm, can you please explain how Roger was attacked in the middle of the day while he was fishing?) Anyway, Mick is going to run out to some abandoned sawmill and fetch some plywood in order to board up the house. Mick vetoes Geri’s plans of accompanying him, instead suggesting that she stay at home and take care of Maw who looks "like she’s going to crack." (I can understand any actor appearing in the film being in danger of a nervous break down.)

Well, Alma decides to take a shower. (The thought of a shower scene featuring Alma is enough to give me a nervous breakdown.) When she turns on the faucet, the expected flow of water is nowhere to be seen. Assuming that the pipes are clogged (guess what they’re clogged with…), Alma angrily returns to the living room where her freaked out mother is staring up into a hole in the ceiling. (Go figure.)

Meanwhile, Mick is returning from the sawmill on foot, lugging a bunch of old plywood on his back. Out of nowhere (literally) out jumps Roger and shoves Mick down into a hole (where do all these holes come from?) Mick staggers up but immediately collapses from the pain of a sprained ankle. Looking up, he sees that Roger is now, well, how shall I say, he has worms hanging out of his face and he’s all green . Yup. Worms will do that to you sometimes.

SquirmRoger is somehow infected or infested or something with the worms and is out of his head. (Well, even more so now.) Before stalking off to deal with Geri, Roger points down to Mick and says, "You’re gonna be spoiled now! You’re gonna be the worm face!" (Sometimes I feel like I’m missing something.) Roger picks up a piece of plywood and throws it down on Mick, knocking him unconscious (?). Whatever.

Back home, night has fallen. (That was fast.) Oh yeah, Alma left the ‘water’ on and the bathtub is filled to the rim with worms that have forced themselves up through the pipes. (How exactly did the worms get into the water system?) Alma, hearing the ‘squishy’ noises coming from upstairs exclaims "I can’t wait to wash my face!" and scurries up to wash. When Alma turns the door knob, the door bursts open from the pressure of the mass of worms that have filled the entire bath room! Man, this is supposed to be scary, but c’mon, how many worms can there be?

Mick, meanwhile, has managed to free himself from the sheet of plywood and is attempting to get to his feet. (It’s also noticeably brighter again. Strange how that happens in bad movies.) Mick pulls out his handy dandy lighter and sees that worms are crawling out from the sides of the hole now that evening has fallen. (Well, fallen here, back at the house in the previous scene it was already pitch black outside.)

Mick takes off his shirt, wraps it around a fallen branch, and lights it with his lighter, scrambles up the side of the hole, and runs back to the house. (Just so you know, when Mick waves the ersatz torch at the worms, they creep back into the earth. This effect is realized by simply playing the original ‘creeping out of the earth’ footage in reverse.)

While Mick has been struggling in the hole, the Sheriff has just finished, er, ‘getting busy’ with his date. Their locale of choice for making love is none other than the town jail (this guy’s a real Romeo). As they bathe in the after-glow of love, we cut to a shot of a worm’s POV. No really. A worm’s POV as it’s crawling along the hallway of the Sheriff’s office. Man. This is exciting stuff.

SquirmWell, it turns out that while the Sheriff and his ‘girl’ have been lost in the embrace of Eros, thousands, scratch that, millions of worms have made their way into the office and are now pushing their way through the bars of the jail cell. At this point, there are so many worms that the film makers no longer used real worms. Instead, they’ve opted for some sort of length of pink rubber, which of course is the same length and color for every worm, making the ‘mass’ of worms look just like what it really is: a big pile of pink rubber worms.

As they two lovers cuddle in the jail-cell bed, the Sheriff’s girl begins to giggle and say, ‘C’mon now…stop doing that!’ I hope you can see where all of this is going…the Sheriff says "Doing what?" blah blah. As if worms could somehow coordinate an ‘attack’, the girl screams and the worms shoot into the cell en mass. Scratch the Sheriff and his ‘Girl’.

Yes, the viewer must endure another "Worm POV" scene at the diner. A bunch of teens are sitting around eating and drinking by candle light since there is still no power. One girl hears something ‘weird’ and her boyfriend takes a candle and illuminates the floor with it. Sure enough, the floor is a mass of wriggly pink plastic worms which somehow manage to kill everybody, even those that have jumped up on top of the bar counter. Who cares. Let’s just get this over with.

Oh goodie! Back at Geri and Alma’s house, we see that night has fallen (again). As Geri makes her rounds with the candle (they still haven’t told Maw about the whole ‘worm thing’ that’s going on…), she notices that a few ambitious worms have forced their under the front door. (What she didn’t see was Worm-Roger peering through the window behind her.)

What is with Worm-Roger? Why don’t the worms eat him? Have they vested him with some sort of supernatural worm-immunity? The whole ‘Worm-Roger’ idea is so stupid and distracting it makes me, well, squirm.

SquirmOk, nearly done here. Geri asks her mom if she’s closed all the doors. Sure she has, except Maw left the back door open to "get some fresh air". (Doh!) Geri goes to close it and is grabbed by Worm-Roger who has surreptitiously made his way into the house via the unsecured back door. Worm-Roger stifles Geri’s cries with his hand and extinguishes the candles because the light hurts him. Because he a Worm-Guy now. Or something. I guess.

Mick, on the other hand, is doing better. He has made his way back to the house by use of his shirt-torch. (However, we are now subjugated to scenes of Mick without his shirt on.)

Ok, moving along, Mick sneaks through the house, looking for Geri and/or Alma. He notices a ladder leading up into the attic, peeks up to have a look, and all of a sudden Worm-Roger jumps out of the darkened doorway and attacks. If I wrote that last description in a way which evoked no excitement whatsoever, then I have accurately described the scene.

For some reason, Worm-Roger has bound and gagged Geri in the attic and is now intent on whooping Mick’s ass. Mick tries to run downstairs but sees that the entire first floor of the house has been filled with worms. No kidding. The entire first floor of the house is full of worms. Wait a minute. Before you think that this scene might be ‘icky’, it’s simply a room full of those pink plastic ‘fake worms’ being churned around by something under the surface, so it’s just not particularly scary.

SquirmOk, Ok, I got sidetracked there. Mick and Worm-Roger get into a ‘choking-match’ on the stairs. Somehow Mick overpowers the much larger (and worm-infested) Roger, tossing him down the stairs and into the mass of worms. Roger struggles briefly before disappearing beneath the surface.

Now who’s gonna run the worm farm?

Finished dealing with Worm-Roger, Mick makes his way upstairs and rescues Geri from her bonds. The two knuckle-heads make their way back upstairs and climb out onto a tree limb which conveniently reaches over to a second-floor window. The branch twitches, and almost breaks, but no, Geri and Mick are still safely ensconced up in the tree. (That was a close one! Whew!).

Fade to the next day. Mick and Geri are sleeping in the tree (!) when a power-company employee walks up below them and wakes them by saying that the power is turned back on and everything is "OK". Power-company guy walks back to his truck and drives off…to somewhere.

Cut scenes. The camera pans through the house, and settles on an old steamer trunk laying on the floor. The truck shudders and shakes and out bursts a mass of flesh-eating worms! No wait. It’s Alma. She apparently survived the worm attack by hiding in the trunk. (Damn.)

Mike and Geri scurry down from the tree and back into the house. Camera fades out to medium exterior shot of the house. Pan to ground. Zoom to grass and closing credits.

Blah.

Stupid movie.

Dennis Grisbeck (May 2005)

EDIT: October 2008: This review was cleaned up (sort of) and proudly submitted as part of the B-Movie Extermination Roundtable!

Super-Soaker

Afterthoughts

Yeah, OK. This movie was pretty bad, but bad in a harmless, lazy way. The film didn’t aggressively assault the senses like, say, "Beast of Yucca Flats". Nor was it cheesily entertaining like the majority of 1950’s sci-fi films. Nope. This movie was just a lump of 1970’s crap, made by a lazy director based on a lazy script.

The worms, ah yes. OK. What was with the worms? Were the mutant worms? Or were they just pissed off from the electricity? And, oh yeah. One power line fell in the storm…so that one single power line was enough to ‘juice up’ those millions of worms all over the city? And Worm-Roger? What was that? Lazy, lazy, lazy script writing in search of cheap scares that don’t make any sense and aren’t scary in the first place.

Blah! What a crappy film. Stay far away from this one.

Read more about Squirm at

IMDB

4 comments to Squirm (1976)

  • popzombie

    This is one of my favorite bad movies. I think the flat-butt redhead is hot. MST did a did a great job on it also.

  • Finally caught this UNEDITED on Epix or one of the movie channels on the DISH Satellite network. It’s really a bad movie, but I have to admit that some of the scenes are actually well done until we get to the worms taking over the town. There’s a lot of sloppiness in the direction and in the script, but it looks as though the cast was amused enough by it.

    I, too, have a fondness in my heart for the red-headed “flat butt” and I’m disappointed by the brief amount of nudity on her part.

    Lastly, I thought that once they were upstairs, they were forced to go out on a limb because Worm-Roger somehow survived being tossed to the first floor, and that he ended up falling out of the house to be devoured by the worms outside, but it was 3am at that point, and I realized, it didn’t really matter because it was clear that “flat butt” wasn’t gonna get nekkid. LOL

  • guts3d

    The MST3K version was infinitely better! Maybe the director wanted to show first year students how NOT to make a B movie. Great review!

  • pharmd jones

    I don’t think Alma was hiding in the trunk. I think she was knocked unconscious by Roger and placed in the trunk. Notice how she’s rubbing the back of her head like she’d been struck. Also, there’s no way she could lay like that for hours comfortably. Just my opinion

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