Director / screenwriter: Jeff Lieberman
1976 – American
R.A. Dow as “Worm Face”
Other key personal
Cinematographer: Joseph Mangine
Producer: George Manasse
“I’m not a tourist, I’m a Libra”
If you’re going to be eating some cheese then you might as well pile it high and Squirm loads it six night crawlers thick. This is one wild and far out movie and making it all the madder is that it is shot with a natural, near dead pan tone. The most absurd actions are taken with alarming regularity by the films populace and none of them seem to realize. It’s farce masquerading as schlock horror, and all with a Georgia twang.
The movies hero is a kid coming to look up his girlfriend after he’s spent the year getting educated in New York City, or so the story goes. There’s no way this rube ever got half way to Atlanta and it’s too bad that there’s no one to call him on it. Sadly, pathetically, his cosmopolitan stylings, consisting of ordering an egg cream shake and talking about big city crime, leave all the townsfolk gee-ing and gaw-ing. Then, as in all backward town horror movies, this aw-shucks attitude quickly turns into near deadly hostility.
Like a backwoods version of Batman Mick sniffs out something is amiss with the local worm population. If that makes him out as the smartest person in the town then his subsequent actions speaks of just how slow a worm farming community in Fly Creek Georgia can be. After getting off on the wrong foot with the suave-hillbilly sheriff he decides that it’s best for him to investigate the strange happenings. And his technique is what might be called unorthodox – he sneaks around suspected murders shacks only to get caught by his girlfriends sister (and she’s stoned all the time), steals evidence and destroys crime scenes, breaks into a doctors office (because he’s just not around), leaves his girlfriend with a half-wit who’s obviously hot for her (and yes, he does attack her. Surprise, surprise.), and finally leaves his girlfriend and her family vulnerable to attack while he goes hiking for some plywood.
In one memorable scene Mick staggers through the forest carrying a torch to guide his way and keep the light fearing worms at bay. The moment he arrives at the house he discards the bright torch and mounts the rescue instead with a flimsy candle, apt to go out with the slightest gust. I can’t fathom why he would do such a thing, I am thankful that this ended his sexy shirtless chest shot.
“He cut his finger on a hook.”
Focusing on the films brain trust paints a misleading picture, dopey as Mick is an evolutionary step up the ladder from the towns inhabitants. The worm wrangler ends up eaten by his worms, the sheriff takes his date for a romantic rendezvous at the towns jail and they both get eaten by worms, the mother is eaten by worms while knitting and a whole bar is wiped out by, well, by more worm. One might start to wonder if this is about a freak disaster or just nature taking her course – this town is thrown off the top of the food chain by worms because the worms are smarter. The weaker species loses and the worms win. If not convinced then consider that these people on more than one occasion end up soaking in stagnant pond water and make no rush to shower the chiggers off. They happily walk around in their wet stinking clothes, going to restaurants and antique stores! If the worms didn’t topple them then it would have been any other diseases, and the unhygienic asses deserve no better.
Consider their reaction to danger – a girl is attacked by a friend of the family, he tries to rape her and instead suffers a gruesome accident before running off into the words howling in pain and anger. The girl returns home, a short distance away, and when asked by her mother how her day went she lies for absolutely no reason! No mention that a freakshow is prowling their woods and that he’s mad and violent. Even groundhogs wiggle their noses for one another. This girl keeps her mother in the dark, figuratively and literally, until it leads right to her death. This whole backwater is better off as worm food.
“You gonna be the worm face!”
Squirm though is not about fish-out-of-water heroes or the plight of one fetid town, it is the tragic story of a man and what he become. That man is Worm Face! Worm Face was perhaps the worst worm wrangler ever to work in Fly Creek, or anywhere else in Georgia for that matter. His incompetence began at an early age when he managed to have his thumb bitten off by a worm! While this should have been considered a sign from up above that he had taken up the wrong trade , this being Fly Creek people don’t catch on all that quick. Sure enough his lack of worm wrangling ability would again cost him dearly – a nasty pack of worms would wait for him to fall face first into a pile them so they could burrow into his face! On that day village idiot Roger died and the terrible Worm Face was born! Worm Face quickly proves no better at anything at all and manages to get eaten by worms, or nearly so. Three worn related accidents is enough to push any bumpkin over the edge and so Worm Face begins acting like a worm, inching along the floor to bite at his enemy, and sure enough, until having his face squished in with a flashlight.
The worms then just go away when the utility coot fixes the downed power lines – the end.
Spring heeled Jack says:
Squirm is a very weird movie. The people find themselves in the most ludicrous predicaments and think sideways on everything. I don’t even want to get into the worms – the more I think about it the more I suspect they were out for revenge or maybe just prestige of climbing out of the muck and higher on the food chain (cleverly represented by human faces), their killings seemed so targeted, brilliantly and stupidly targeted. Squirm makes you think about worm motivations, worm tactics and worm people – and in the end that is really the best summation.
This is a true story?
The movie claims all this took place in Fly Creek Georgia, sept 29 1974. It was in all the papers, don’t you remember?
Any spaghetti eating scenes?
In a movie full of worms you know it had to happen.
How’s my thumb?
Roger shocks his fishing buddies with his thumb stump and his old story of worm bites gone bad. Too bad we’ve already seen his fully intact thumb in a half dozen scenes prior .