Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Squirm (1976)

Well, I'm back (again!). My computer's not perfect but it'll have to do since I don't have the money to get a new one. Since I've been, for the most part, MIA for 2009 I've decided to turn over a new leaf. Yep, a new leaf of reviewing quality pictures, pictures that might actually win an award or two. What the fuck am I doing wasting my time writing about garbage anyway? Fuck that bullshit. Unfortunately, I turned over that leaf and all I could find was bloodsucking sandworms. Those "quality" pictures will have to wait I guess.

Whatever man, I'll watch Squirm a thousand times before I sit through "quality" entertainment like Crash or American Beauty again. This picture, Squirm, is a perfect model by which all creature features should be judged. Made in 1976, directed by Jeff Lieberman and featuring some early terrific work by Rick Baker, Squirm is the story of a small Georgian town (Fly Creek) assaulted by an unstoppable army of sandworms. Some fantastic camera work allows us to see these horrific bloodsuckers, and their dirty little maws, up close and personal. A truly frightening experience. Lieberman is one of those directors that helmed a couple masterpieces (this and Just Before Dawn) before vanishing for good. Just Before Dawn is the finest fat guy(s?) with a machete movie you'll ever see. According to wikipedia, Squirm was given the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 treatment back in 1999 which is fucking bullshit. I dare you to watch this thing sober and talk over it. Trust me, I tried it sober and shit-faced. Sober, this is some riveting shit. It just goes to show that the 3000 crew wouldn't know a good (or should I say bad?) movie if it fucked them in the ass. *

Anywho, this thing takes place in a small rural town. It begins with a violent storm that downs some powerlines which, for some unexplained reason, are left sending thousands of volts directly into the earth (for the entire picture!). Not being much of a worm expert, I simply had to accept the fact that electricity forces worms to the surface and you can only imagine that they wouldn't be too happy about it. This picture is a slow burn though, so first things first. Characters. We've got the pretty red headed southern belle, Geri (Patricia Pearcy), who lives with her mother and sister in an isolated farm house outside of the town proper. On his way to visit Geri (just as the storm hits) is the big city boy, Mick (Don Scardino). Mick's character is in the Matthew Broderick vein, the sort of character who comes across as a smart ass even when doing something as innocent as ordering an "egg cream" (city speak for chocolate soda apparently) at the local diner. Roger is the local bumpkin, a jealous good ol', slightly retarded, son of a bitch that does odd jobs around Geri's homestead when not slaveing away at his father's worm farm. Yeah, he and his pa run a worm farm, but Roger can't stand the fucking things. He's got bigger things on his mind, like wooing Geri which, let's face it, would most likely result in rape. I loved the Sheriff who wouldn't believe in killer worms even if the things bit him on the pecker. I'm pretty sure they do. This is the kind of scum bag that hits on a girl stranded in town by the weather, treats her to a spaghetti dinner at Fly Creek's #1 restaraunt italiano, probably gets her drunk, and then basically forces her to spend the night at his place so he can bang the shit out of her and ultimately become worm food post coitus. Good guy.

I also liked the antique dealer. He was played by a skeleton.

I guess my mantra is "they just don't make 'em like this anymore". I'd like that to be my epithet. This picture has several terrific moments. The fishing trip with Roger, Mick, and Geri has to be near the top. Mick, thinking Roger responsible for his Pops death (they found his worm filled torso a little earlier), abandons Geri, so she can keep an eye on Roger while he goes off to investigate. Finally alone with the object of his obsession, Roger attempts a little rape only to spurned, not only by Geri but also by his fucking fish bait! Roger stops being Roger and becomes known as Worm-face from this point on. Worm-face is the greatest character in the history of motion pictures and I'm not kidding. Somehow, those worms get into his brain and drive him insane, so not only do we have a billion bloodsucking worms to contend with, we've got a crazy retarded man with wormy pock marks, the greatest use of pock marks since Bava's Black Sunday. When Worm-face tosses Mitch into a ditch and screams after him "now you get to be da worm-face" I knew I was in the presence of greatness.

Shit man, Rick Baker is the guy that created the werewolf in An American Werewolf in London. In this thing, he creates an ocean of worms that take over the first floor of one of those giant plantation type homes, you know, the kind with the pillars. It's fucking genius. Sure, they don't really look like worms (more like mobile spaghetti), but they still creeped me the fuck out. This is not the type of picture where there's an easy solution. Basically, try your best to live. There's some bullshit about how the worms disappear when the light hits them so I guess try to avoid the night is the moral of the story. You could try climbing a tree (they do) but these are the type of worms that can eat through roots and cause a tree to fall on the house (which they do). And then, to top it all off, you have to contend with worm-face who is now a full on human worm hybrid that slithers, slinks, inches (what the fuck do worms do anyway??) towards our fleeing heroes.

I feel like I've missed a shit load here. If you enjoyed Slugs I think you'll like this one even better. I mean, Slugs is great and all but it left me feeling a little depressed after it was over. This picture has the superior effects and yet you still end up feeling a little dirty after it's over and I don't mean dirty in a bad sort of way. Other than the Mick character, everything is so god damned authentic. Geri is a pretty hot ginger girl (side-al breast at one point) but she's about the only eye candy in this thing. Everyone else is just poor. And white. I couldn't help wondering how Mick could even come to know Geri. Here's an annoying, intelligent New Yorker traveling to the back woods of Georgia to hook up with some broad he met god knows where. I don't for a second believe she attended college, so that's right out. This was before internet hook ups were in vogue, so that's out. It's the one element of the story I couldn't wrap my head around. The worms on the other hand....

*I actually like these guys but they really misjudged this picture. This is me playing for both teams, so to speak.


Sam said...

Glad you're back!
And glad it's not all hard feelings for MST3K, who gave us the classic Pumaman and Space Mutiny episodes.

F-Stop said...

Lovely review for what sounds like a kickass shit movie.

Except for the threat of Worm-Face, wouldn't people have been OK by just staying inside? Worms don't seem the calculating to me. Did anyone try this and what was the results?

brian said...

Well, I think I referred to them as an army of sorts in my review and did mention how they have teeth. Also, didn't I say how they knocked a tree down into the house and took over the first floor? Nothing about this picture is "shit"!

elmo said...

Dang! I was hoping to get this from you on Sunday...

Hated Feast III by the way. What a mess.

brian said...

I agree about Feast III. It was fucking abysmal. What was with all the weird camera stuff? The only good part was the song over the end credits. Dug the robot.

brian said...

Elmo, did you watch this yet?

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