Action / Horror


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by AngryChair 10 / 10

Nature strikes back in a big way!

The 1970's saw a number of nature-strikes-back horror films, like Frogs (1972), Grizzly (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977), Day of the Animals (1977), and Prophecy (1979), but none that were quite as well-made and effectively frightening as this low-budget horror masterpiece!

Freak storm blows down power lines in a small Georgia town, and the resulting surge of voltage through the soil drives hordes of sand worms into a flesh-eating frenzy!

The debut film of director Jeff Lieberman, who would go on to make other great B thrillers like Blue Sunshine (1977) and Just Before Dawn (1981), Squirm is still one of his best. Lieberman wrote the story, which is clever and suspenseful, as it seems to enjoy its campy elements. The plot builds from a mysterious nature to a dark, claustrophobic climax. There's a number of memorably tense moments, such as the shower sequence and the infamous row boat sequence. Lieberman well uses the backwoods and swamps of coastal Georgia to convey a realistic setting and feverish summer atmosphere. Robert Prince's musical score is excellent, with some truly eerie and haunting themes that are perfect in conjunction with some of the dark sequences. The film also contains some of the early creations of a young Rick Baker, who does some awesome makeup effects that provide for more than one memorably creepy moment.

The cast of unknowns is quite good. Scardino is perfect as the out-of-towner hero who comes to visit his lady friend. Pearcy is attractive and genuine in her role as Scardino's southern girlfriend. R.A. Dow, Jean Sullivian, and Fran Higgins all make for perfect small-town characters.

Squirm is an undervalued film indeed. It's simply an unforgettable skin-crawler that never fails to entertain and thrill. It's above-average on all levels for a B horror film and is truly one of the best low-budget flicks of its time!

**** out of ****

Reviewed by Douglas P. Mosurak ([email protected]) 5 / 10

Hey, there's a worm in my egg cream!

You wouldn't know it from the description, but SQUIRM manages to be scary, fun, gross, and engaging all at once. Scare shots are timed to a tee and both the conflict of the film and the characters involved in it are executed with as much style and excellent timing as could be expected for a film about killer worms. The scene where worms burrow into Roger's face, and the one where the bathtub is quickly filling up with worms are really effective. Your local video store probably sold off this one years ago along with other slow-renting titles to make room for hundreds of copies of "Sleepless in Seattle," though, so if you see a copy and are looking for a good scare, pick it up.

Reviewed by Brandt Sponseller 7 / 10

Best when we're mired in rednecks

Fly Creek is a small southern town best known for it's "antiques" and the Grimes Worm Farm. During one particularly hot summer, while Mick (Don Scardino) is on his way on a bus to meet new girlfriend Geri Sanders (Patricia Pearcy), they're hit by a whopper of a thunderstorm. Fly Creek's roads are flooded and they've lost power due to a downed power line that is still sparking. And that leads to a big problem. Because when the film's worms are stimulated by electricity, they come out of the ground, ready to bite, and there are millions of them!

As is obvious from the premise, Squirm is a nature-gone-wild film, a subgenre of horror that was particularly active in the 70s. It's a pretty good example of the genre, and the film is successful more often than not, as long as you don't start to question the plot too much. Overall, it's a 7 out of 10 for me. I almost gave it an 8, but the ending is a bit too cliched, so I knocked off a point. I've only seen one of director/writer Jeff Lieberman's other films so far--Blue Sunshine (1976)--and that also had points taken off for a less-than-satisfying ending.

Squirm is at its best when it's wallowing in small redneck town weirdness. The Sheriff (Peter MacLean) is frighteningly unresponsive, a bit pleasantly campy, and he's also a paranoid troublemaker. The Grimes family, Willie (Carl Dagenhart) and Roger (R.A. Dow), are demented and creepy. The Sanders family seems oddly dysfunctional, and Geri's sister, Alma (Fran Higgins), demonstrates that Juliette Lewis wasn't the first Juliette Lewis. When all of this stuff is combined with Squirm's initial slow-burning horror aspects--including a relatively subtle amount of worms and a well-placed (both literally and in terms of the script) skeleton--it is good, almost sublimely so.

But things begin to go slightly awry when we get to the big extravaganza near the end. The characters have either died off or Lieberman simply abandons them. Having a lot of characters die off by the end is understandable and even laudable in a film like this, but it's too bad we couldn't have seen them longer and had more emotional investment in them. Simply abandoning characters isn't as excusable. Of course the attacking worm quotient increases as the film continues, and this is handled well physically (I can't imagine having to be a worm wrangler), but plot points surrounding the worms become sketchier and almost contradictory at times. That saps too much tension out of the ending, and instead we're primarily engaged by physical effects for their own sake, plus a wonderfully campy change in personality from Roger.

Squirm is definitely worth seeing for anyone with a taste for lower-budget 1970s horror, and at times is quite a gem. Just don't set your expectations too high (but really, who would for a film like this?)

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