Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#291. Squirm (1976)

Directed By: Jeff Lieberman

Starring: Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcy, R.A Dow

Tag line: "The Night is Crawling with Killers"

Trivia: Kim Basinger was at one point considered for the female lead in this film

Before watching Squirm, a '70's horror flick in which man-eating worms attack a small town, I hadn't really thought all that much about earthworms, but did harbor a few preconceptions about them. First off, I always thought they were a little gross. Second, I didn't see any reason in the world to be afraid of them. After seeing this film, I have to admit I've changed my mind: earthworms are extremely gross.

But frightening? Nah...not in the least.

A severe storm has battered the Georgia coastline, and particularly hard hit was the small community of Fly Creek. Every road into and out of town remains impassable, and all electrical power has been knocked out. But that's the least of Fly Creek's worries. A few miles away, a downed power line is pumping thousands of volts of electricity into the wet soil, causing the underground worm population to go ballistic. Mick (Don Scardino), a native New Yorker, has just arrived in town to spend the weekend with his girlfriend, Geri (Patricia Pearcy). As the two are investigating the mysterious disappearance of a local antiques dealer, they uncover, instead, a shocking bit of information: the entire community is about to be overrun by carnivorous worms.

Considering it's a film about monster worms, Squirm gets off to a great start. For one, I was completely caught up in the mystery of what happened to poor old Mr. Beardsley, the antiques dealer who seemingly vanished into thin air. Sure, Mick and Geri find a skeleton lying on his property, but who's to say it's his? The way the two go about trying to determine the skeleton's identity is intriguing, to say the least. Along with the mystery, there's also a particularly solid special effects sequence, courtesy of award-winning make-up artist Rick Baker. As Geri is out on a boat, fishing with her dim-witted neighbor, Roger (R.A. Dow), Roger makes an aggressive pass at her. In trying to get away, Geri pushes Roger, causing him to fall face-first into the pile of worms they were using as bait. Suddenly, Roger lets out a scream, and when he stands up, we see why: the worms are burrowing into his face! It's truly an awesome sight, and also manages to crank the tension up a few notches when Roger, worms and all, runs off into the woods and disappears (for the time-being, anyway). Needless to say, at this point in the film, I was totally into Squirm, and couldn't wait to see what happened once the worms launched their attack on Fly Creek. If it's half as cool as that scene on the boat, I reasoned, then I was in for a treat.

Unfortunately, it isn't “half as cool”. It isn't even a tenth as awesome. In fact, the whole Worm Armageddon is downright lame, and all the build-up to it, handled so well for an hour and 15 minutes, falls apart in the closing scenes. Most disappointing of all were the attacking hordes of earthworms, which looked more like large piles of rubber bands being pushed along the floor. At the outset, Squirm left a lot to the audience's imagination. For example, we never actually see the worms attach themselves to Roger's face; we're only privy to the aftermath. By going for broke in the closing moments and attempting to show tens of thousands of worms taking their frustrations out on the innocent Fly Creekians (Fly Creekites?), Squirm opts for the visible over the vague, resulting in a series of scenes that fall flat on their face. Considering how absorbing the movie had been up to that point, this finale is a real let-down.

Poor ending aside, Squirm is an effective film for most of its running time; well executed, well paced, and truly entertaining. It's definitely worth a watch, and even if Squirm won't keep you up at night looking for worms underneath your bed, it will, at the very least, put you off your spaghetti dinner.


Anonymous said...

Your last line Doctor Shock, "It will put you off on spaghetti dinner" is making me rent this. Can't wait.

I assume you will continue with horror reviews on DVDInfatuation even though PM podcast is done, which I am really really really (10 really's) sad about. -Cayden

Dave Becker said...

@Cayden: Thanks for the comment.

I do plan to continue posting horror reviews on the blog, and will do so according to the schedule I laid out during one of the podcasts. So no worries there!

Also, I share your sadness at the end of Planet Macabre. Thanks so much for listening. It's you (and all the other listeners) who made the show so much fun to record!

Take care, and have a good day.

Anonymous said...

Mr Shockman y did shetty let that bozo run the last episode that dude makes the listen painful? Is shetty coming back and what happen with the sudden conclusion? BTW this horror movie sounds good. Guy Donovan

Dave Becker said...

@Guy: Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment.

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the last episode of Planet Macabre (which is doubly sad seeing as it WAS the last episode), but we very much appreciate you being a loyal listener for the past six months. It has been a source of inspiration for myself, and all the hosts, to have so many wonderful fans.

Billchete has stated he has no immediate plans to return to podcasting, but I'm sure he'll be back at some point in time. He's too much of a a natural at it to stay away for long!

Thanks again for taking the time to comment, and for listening.

Anonymous said...

that gregamortis is a nitwit wanted to leave this so all the fans of planet macabre no that i do not support the deceision to move us to the creepture feature podcast we love you planet macabre dont throw in the towel

Anonymous said...

I just finalized Pod 14, it was hard to deal with GregaMortis as host. He is fine as a co-host but it gets really aggravating listening to him for 150 minutes. My wife and I dumped the Creepture Pod along time ago because of it. I will not be making my way over there if he is to host every show.

To you Dr. Shock I thank you for providing us with the DVD oldies. I will miss them and the Pod in general.

Tom and Jackie

Dave Becker said...

Thanks to all for the comments.

Obviously, we'll have to agree to disagree regarding Gregamortis. Over the past few months, his enthusiasm for the horror genre has been a source of inspiration. I will gladly continue on the Creepture Feature Horror Show, and I do hope the wonderful listeners of Planet Macabre will join me there as well.

That aside, I thank you all so very much for the compliments regarding Planet Macabre. It has been my distinct pleasure to co-host that show, and the kindness I've received from the listeners has been overwhelming. I will always be grateful for it.

@Tom and Jackie: I'm happy you enjoyed my classic picks. Please visit the blog from time to time, as I would love to continue hearing from you.

Thanks again, and my best to everyone.

Anonymous said...

why oh why doctor dude * i found planetcast during no. 3 the best of the year and been a faithful fan since * u and the billchete dude are strong voices and make great arguments yay or nay on each horror movie * i am sure you are all friends but i would advise dont scurry over to the creepcast you will hurt your horror cred you established * there is a reason creepcast is horrible that is all i am going to say *** trent d.

Anonymous said...

stuned at te suden end uf planet macabre horor pod cast: my fam is huge fans uf te show: te pod casts under yous mus be happy now they will mov up the laddor to a hi er rank: will miss te show mor then you will no: : : adelwen:germany

Dave Becker said...

Thanks to both Trent and Adelwen for the kind words. It is a sad time, but I appreciate the support you have both shown for the show. Thanks also for listening. It's been a blast!

Anonymous said...

FUG that sucks Doctor that it came to a close without a farewell blast.

I will miss the Podcast and all the horror movies recommended each episode.

Horror Nut (PA, US of A)

Dave Becker said...

@Horror Nut: Thanks for the comment, and the kind words regarding Planet Macabre. All of us hosts appreciate the support we've received from the show's fans over these past 6 months, and want you all to know we're just as upset it won't be continuing.

Thanks again (it's always nice to chat with a fellow Pennsylvanian!).

Anonymous said...

completed 14 at work today and what a busted final episode with that southurn hick at the helm, a ruined sorry ending. actually pissed me off having to listen to him hearing reviewz. i guess its off to this week in horror podcast now that the dominate macabre has folded.

sar briego

p.s. who the hell in there rite mind would wait for this bigger and badder website with that hick at the helm.

Sirkll said...

I remember watching the ads for this when it first came out. Even at 10 I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to see a killer earthworm movie. Those things are nasty!