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DVD Review: Squirm (1976)

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Squirm (1976)

Directed by Jeff Lieberman

DVD Review: Squirm (1976)Horror director Jeff Liebermann made his debut with this rather unusual horror movie about worms with a taste for human flesh. Squirm is set in the fictional town of Fly Creek and the movie begins with a terrible storm that sends  an electricity pylon crashing to the ground,  where the high voltage electricity goes to earth and juices up the local worm population. All this new power goes straight to the worms’ heads, gives them a nasty new attitude, and causes them
to go on a killing spree. Killer Worms! It doesn’t sound all that terrifying does it; until you discover that this species of worm have teeth. 

The two main characters in Squirm are Geri Sanders and her boyfriend Mick, played by Patricia Pearcy and Don Scardino. Geri has lived in Fly Creek all her life, but Mick is from New York. They met at an antiques show and Mick, who has taken a couple of weeks off work so that he can visit Geri, arrives at Fly Creek the morning after the storm, and one of the first things he does is to get on the wrong side of the Sherriff, who is easily the biggest jerk in town. Mick visits the local diner and orders an egg cream. When he finds a worm in the bottom of his glass, he is so shocked that he spills his drink and causes quite a commotion. Sherriff Reston happens to be in the diner, instantly pegs Mick as a troublemaker and accuses him of placing the worm there himself. 

Later the same day Mick and Geri discover a skeleton and rush to get Reston, but when they return with him the skeleton has vanished and, once again, the sheriff accuses Mick of being a troublemaker.  Geri tries to intervene and back up Mick’s story, but the Sherriff refuses to listen.

Geri and Mick have a further unfortunate encounter with the sheriff when they try and tell him that the worms are killing people. The sheriff is having lunch at the time, with a lady that is obviously not his wife. The two of them are tucking into a couple of big plates of spaghetti, so worms are probably the last thing either of them wants to think about. Reston tells Mick that he is giving him a head start and will be coming after him as soon as he has finished his meal. The guy is all talk and no action though—when it comes to his job anyway—because the next time the viewer sees him, the sheriff and his date are bunked up in one of the cells; so when the worms arrive in force he is caught, quite literally, with his pants down. Worm fodder? You bet and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

Geri’s neighbour, Roger Grimes, is also an important character in the story. Roger, who works on his father’s worm farm, is infatuated with Geri and he is not impressed to learn that she has a new beau, but he does, at least, treat his rival with a little respect. Until, that is, he gets a face full of worms. After that he turns ugly—in more ways than one—and spends the rest of the movie trying to kill Mick so that he can take Geri for himself.

The special effects in Squirm are okay for a movie from the 70s, but poor by modern standards. The scenes that show layer upon layer of writhing worms are particularly bad. The worms resemble strips of wire or plastic and instead of squirming they appear to be being tossed by some hidden mechanism beneath them. The close up shots of individual worms work very well indeed though, and it seems probable that they are close ups of real sandworms. Real sandworms do have teeth and if these are close ups of the real thing I for one wold not want to go digging for them—nasty! 

I would be surprised if viewers found anything to shock them in
Squirm. If there was any foul language I don’t remember hearing it, and the closest thing to a nude scene is when Geri tries to run a bath and nearly gets doused with worms instead. The goriest scene is probably when Mick finds the corpse of Roger’s father. Hearing a strange noise coming from the body, Mick opens up the old man’s shirt to reveal an army of worms feasting on Mr Grimes’ organs.  It’s not the sort of thing I’d enjoy seeing if I were in the middle of my lunch, but, once again, it is tame by modern standards.

Squirm DVD Review

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Squirm, with its electricity antagonized killer worms is not a particularly believable story, but the cast made a valiant effort and managed to produce an entertaining movie that may cause a few timid fishermen to think twice the next time they delve into their bait box for a worm.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Runtime: 90 mins
Certificate 18


Don Scardino
Patricia Pearcy
R.A. Dow
Peter MacLean
Jean Sullivan
Fran Higgins

William Newman
Barbara Quinn
Carl Dagenhart
Angel Sande
Carol Jean Owens
Kim Iocouvozzi
Walter Dimmick
Leslie Thorsen
Julia Klopp

Ralph Flanders
Albert Smith
Jim Shirah
Harold Mumm
W.A. Lindblad 


Geri Sanders
Roger Grimes
Sheriff Jim Reston
Naomi Sanders 
Alma Sanders

Sheriff's Date
Willie Grimes
Mrs. Klopp

1st Man at Lunch Counter
2nd Man at Lunch Counter
3rd Man at Lunch Counter
Bus Driver
Power Line Repairman

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