Go

Squirm

Year: 1976
Production Co: American International Pictures
Director: Jeff Lieberman
Writer: Jeff Lieberman
Cast: Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcy, R A Dow

I was mildly aware of this film after seeing the video store cover hundreds of times way back when, but what really made me want to see it was hearing Rick Baker talk about it on the King Kong Blu-ray.

Dino De Laurentiis and John Guillermin dithered for so long about offering him the job (figuring they were relying more on Carlo Rambaldi's full sized Kong model) Baker he eventually gave them an ultimatum – he'd been offered another film (this one) so they had to put up or shut up.

Somehow he wound up working on both anyway but believe me, this is no King Kong . The guy playing the hero, Mick, (Don Scardino, who reminded me of a cross between David Keith and Ron Howard) is the only one with any acting talent whatsoever, everyone else putting on a ridiculous backwoods Southern accent.

Seemingly inspired by the 50s atomic age monster movies but with an 80s video nasty sensibility, the set-up is that a huge electrical storm has downed the power lines near the backwater of Fly Creek, Georgia.

The result is not only that the worms that live underground are all driven to the surface, they're – natch – hungry for human flesh. It's an update on the horror movie idea behind The Blob, of being overwhelmed, suffocated and eaten by some huge, slimy, disgusting mass of matter.

City boy Mick is coming to town to see his girlfriend, Geri (Patricia Pearcy) and meet her sister and mother for the first time, but he picks the wrong day. As Geri borrows slack jawed yokel worm farmer Roger's (R A Dow) truck to go and collect him, the proverbial has already hit the fan with at least one victim claimed.

After finding a body and trying to convince the sheriff (who might as well be wearing a T shirt that reads 'slimy bastard who won't believe the hero until it's too late') that something's awry, Mick and Geri have to take matters into their own hands and try to figure out what's going on.

For a while it's just a detective thriller with the odd scary scene. The real exploitation vibe doesn't emerge until the climax, when worms besiege Geri's house and threaten her family, and where they've already attacked Roger and seem to have driven him insane in his desire for the heroine.

It's in the final scenes where the effects people get to cut loose, heaving what looks like a literal semi-trailer load of glycera bloodworms through the set of the lower floor of a house, having an unfortunate cast member open a closet door to have a wall of them fall out, etc.

It's cheap, tacky and poorly acted, and makes the fatal flaw common to the era of thinking it's a serious horror movie. If writer/director Jeff Lieberman had made it a bit more self-aware of how ridiculous the premise is and leaned into it he might have made another Evil Dead .

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