creature feature

Shaun vs. Squirm (1976)

squirm.19265

Come and listen to a story about a man named Mick
Following his girlfriend to a town full of hicks
Then one day a storm knocked down some power lines
And up through the ground came a bubblin worms.

*cough* …sorry.

Directed by Jeff Liberman

Starring Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcey and R.A. Dow

The Story

After a big storm knocks down the local power lines, the electricity surge brings hundreds of thousands of flesh-eating worms out of the ground and since they’re up they might as well stop into town for a bite to eat.

The Trailer

Trivia

-The type of worms used the film are called Glycera worms.  Producers orders such huge amounts of worms that all New England’s supply of fishing worms was wiped out that year.

-For some reason the worms were given the screams of pigs from slaughterhouses.

-Big stars that almost were in the film:  Kim Basinger, Sylvester Stallone and Martin Sheen.

-Most of the cast was played by the locals of Port Wentworth, GA.

-Squirm was a popular late-night feature on SuperStation TBS in the 1980s after Atlanta Braves baseball games. Braves announcer Skip Caray famously “promoted” the movie by sarcastically offering Braves fans an autographed baseball if they actually stayed up to watch it, then sent in a review of it. TBS received over 1000 reviews in response.

The Review

On his way to meet his girlfriend, Geri (Pearsey), in the middle of Hicksville, city boy Mick (Scardino) has to get off the bus and hoof it since the storm knocked some trees down onto the road.  He doesn’t get a very warm reception from anyone in town for being an outsider from the city.  He especially gets the cold shoulder from Roger (Dow), a longtime admirer of Geri.  It just so happens that Rogers’ father is a worm farmer.  I’m sure that information will help out later.

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Who’s up for some spaghetti by candlelight?

Geri and Mick visit the local antiques dealer as most kids would together in the ‘70s.  The dealer doesn’t answer the door so they snoop around and find a skeleton in the nearby garden.  It goes missing by the time they get the sheriff but they run into it again in the back of Roger’s truck. 

Roger takes them out on a boat ride and later reveals, after Mick gets bitten by a worm, that his father uses electricity to get the worms to come out of the ground and snatch them.  Only problem is they’re all pissed off and bitey when they come out. He shows that half his thumb was bitten off by the worms.  It gets worse later on when he tries to make a pass at her and she returns the favour by knocking him onto the floor that was covered in worms, which then burrow into his face.

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Know what you call laying there dead with worms all over you? Real acting.

The kids drag the skeleton back into town and break into the local dentist’s office to examine the dental records…?  They figure he’s murdered, being expert CSIs and all, but weren’t sure how he became a skeleton.  OH YOU’LL FIND OUT SOON!  Anyway, worms explode out from every hole and orifice they can fit through trying to find something to chew on.

I think we can agree that the movie is probably a little on the silly side.  The whole situation in this film jumps over the border of ridiculous and into the realm of being ludicrous!  This movie has gone plaid!  The movie doesn’t bring anything to the table other than the fact that you’ll witness killer worms.  While that situation certainly perks up this B-movie fan’s ears, I need a lot more than that to enjoy the movie.

So are the worms scary?  Like in my previous killer creature review, Slugs, they’re only scary if you really don’t like worms or creepy crawlies.  The production team certainly found a repulsive type of worm to showcase and use a liberal dose of close-ups to push hard that these things are ugly.  And numerous.  There really is a crap load of these things on screen. They also scream and squeal like pigs.  I was constantly laughing whenever I heard their high-pitch screeches.  I guess they had to sound like something but come on!  To top off how incredulous these things are, they manage to knock down a tree into a local’s home.  These are the original worms of hell!

squirm

This is your brain on worms!

The film downs showcase a few good bloody scenes.  Since the worms are apparently carnivorous, they burrow into peoples bodies.  Poor Roger gets a bunch of them writing underneath the skin of his face; his dad gets them through his chest.  The sheriff and his lady friend get swallowed up by a mass of worms.  Nothing too crazy but enough to stop me from nodding off for at least a few minutes.

A movie featuring killer worms written by Alan Smithee that was later featured on MST3K certainly doesn’t scream “good.”  The final act was mildly interesting but unless you absolutely have you see a killer worm movie, you can just pass it by and instead watch Night of the Creeps or Slither for that killer worm itch you apparently have.  Go see a doctor.

The Score (aka TL, DR)

Story:  3 – Electricity pisses off worms and they eat people.  Got it.

Blood: 4 – Maybe being generous here for the “worms in the face” scene, but I’m a kind God.

Nudity: 3 – A brief shower scene with Patricia Pearcy showing what her mama gave her.

Overall: 3 – If your first instinct after reading what the movie is about is to move on to something else, trust your instinct. 

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