If you are like me, nothing can beat a creepy crawly in a horror flick. Snakes, spiders, scorpions, ants, you name it, if it is attacking some poor dumb townsfolk, there is nothing better in my ridiculous opinion. The idea of seeing a goofy bug flick in a drive-in is pretty much the epitome of cool. Let’s take worms for example; watching a movie like the 1976 Jeff Lieberman cult classic SQUIRM would have been gosh darn near heaven for me. You never know what grotesque little insect will end up sneaking into your car while you stumble in not paying attention. Be careful, cuz you damn near may end up worm food by the end of this here double feature.
SQUIRM takes place in the small town of Fly Creek where a nasty lighting storm knocks down a power line creating some hungry killer worms. These little monsters burrow their way into your skin and eat you from the inside. With special make-up by the legendary Rick Baker, there is a surprisingly gruesome aspect to this “nature strikes back” flick. One of the most famous scenes includes the very unlucky actor R.A. Dow who literally drowns in a sea of the slimy mini-beasts. This gory sequence is featured on the cover of the DVD and is arguably the most popular image from the film. Let’s face it, worms are disgustingly icky and having a ton of them crawling all over you, inside and out of your skin is more than a little scary.
Originally released with an R-rating – later on a minute or so was cut to accommodate a PG – Lieberman adds a touch of humor into this horror flick that makes it all good cheesy fun. It also helps that the two leads are surprisingly likable. Both Don Scardino (who is currently a successful television director) and Patricia Pearcy bring a certain amount of late-Seventies charm on-screen. Much like KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS or FROGS, this delectable genre delicacy is loaded with clichés but it more than makes up for it for patient viewers that don’t mind waiting for a payoff. The southern charm and the sheer disgusting nature of the killer worms help create a groovy Seventies horror flick. It may take awhile to get to the good parts, but man versus nature and cult classic aficionados are in for a treat.
BEST SCENE TO GET YOUR DATE HOT AND BOTHERED!
The lead actress here is a pretty sweet looking charmer, especially with her stupidly sexy southern drawl (she was born in Tom Green County, Texas). So the fact that we get a quick tit shot is a nice change of pace for horror films that generally don’t show off the leading ladies assets. It’s too bad that her on-screen nudity was cut short for the PG version… stick to the R rated version for a little bit more nudity courtesy of the lovely Patricia Pearcy.
SCENE THAT WILL HAVE YOU LAUGH SILLY
Okay, here I praise the special make-up effects, yet it is hard not to have a nervous chuckle when good old Roger (Dow) first gets a face full of worms. They look a whole lot fake for a moment when the camera lingers on him, yet you still have to give this flick a break because it sure gets nasty when the real worms are used.
SCENE THAT WILL HAVE HER/HIM JUMPING IN YOUR ARMS!
Some of the best and most scream inducing shots in SQUIRM are the close-ups of the worms with the screaming sound effects. I’m not terribly sure about this, but I doubt that these slimy creatures are screamers. However in the context of this flick it will certainly have those who are a little terrified of worms covering their eyes in sheer disgust.
GROOVE TO THE MUSIC!
Director Jeff Lieberman is a pro at mixing music into his movies with a less is more approach. While it is not nearly as successful here as it is in his uber-creepy slasher flick JUST BEFORE DAWN, the score by Robert Prince is appropriately effective.
AN IDEAL DOUBLE BILL WITH:
I’m a fan of this particular director, partly for this but especially for the previously mentioned JUST BEFORE DAWN. This scary tale of five young adults stalked by murderous mountain men in the woods is one of the best trapped in the forest horror films ever made. The director has a talent for creating a serious tone with a mix of well-intentioned humor. Killer worms and deformed mountain men would make for a great date night at the drive-in… or is it mountain men with killer worms waiting to strike? That right there could be a totally different type of flick. Scary…!