Don Scardino stars as a guy named Mick who heads out to Fly Creek from New York to meet up with his girlfriend Geri as played by Patricia Pearcy. All seems well until the two start discovering skeletons and come into contact with carnivorous worms that like to burrow into the flesh of living things, particularly humans. Released in 1976, Squirm also stars R.A. Dow, Jean Sullivan and Peter MacLean among others.
When it comes to horror featuring the natural world at work, there have been many and almost anything is fair game when it comes to the genre. Rabbits, rats, insects, reptiles and more have all had their turn at terrifying audiences on the big screen and when it came time for writer/director Jeff Lieberman to do the same, what better subject than worms. They might seem innocuous, at least to those familiar with them, but in Fly Creek, they enjoy the taste of flesh and when someone encounters a large, writhing mess of the things, one cannot help but be horrified. For the first half of the movie, Lieberman builds things up slowly but surely and as it moves into its second half, there is some truly palpable suspense as the inhabitants of the town start to die by worm, not knowing how to keep them away or how to fend them off. They are, for lack of a better word, disgusting, especially when the camera zooms in upon them with their little gaping jaws and tiny, minuscule fangs. Great special effects to say the least though, at times, it does look like spaghetti.
Scardino does a decent job of being the caring boyfriend, a man who gets thrust into a weird situation in a strange backwoods town. Pearcy’s character seems to be the most normal of the bunch, though one can forgive the sheriff for being a little overprotective of the people he knows and cares about from the likes of strangers. As sensible as Geri seems, it does beg the question of just how it is that she met Scardino and why it is he lives in New York and she still lives in Fly Creek. Additionally, while it might be a horror movie and logic sometimes has to be put aside in order to enjoy films of this particular genre, wondering where the worms came from, especially in that amount is an answer that never manifests.
Though worms may seem like a strange choice of monster for the film, it definitely works, at least in the way they were portrayed here. By themselves, they look harmless enough, but here as the unstoppable, flesh-eating creatures that only come out in the dark, they are indeed something to be feared. Suffice it to say, once it gets going and silly premise or not, Squirm will keep a person on the edge of their seat.
3 out of 5