Dir: Jeff Lieberman
Starring: Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcy, R.A Dow, Jean Sullivan, Peter Maclean, Fran Higgins
Released UK Mon 23rd Sept 2013 through Arrow Video
Arrow video are back at it again with Jeff Lieberman’s cult favourite Squirm, arriving here for the first time on Blu- Ray and DVD. A bizarre mix of backwoods weirdness and creature feature; it has enough going on to lift it above the average killer bug movie, and as is the standard now Arrow have done fans fairly proud.
When a brutal thunderstorm leaves a power line pumping thousands of volts of electricity into the earth; the small town of Fly Creek finds itself under siege from the most unlikely of predators: blood sucking earthworms! When city slicker Mick(Don Scardino) comes to visit his girlfriend Geri(Patricia Pearcy) and her family he finds himself on the wrong side of the local Sheriff, and in the middle of something unpleasantly sinister as skeletons begin to show up, and seemingly innocuous worms begin to bite. It isn’t long before hordes of squishy, grimy worms begin to devour the locals and it’s up to Mick and Geri to try and save the day.
Coming off like a muddier, grubbier version of Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ Squirm is very much a B movie and very much of its time. It doesn’t have the class of Hitchcock’s film but it is surprisingly well made and shows a degree of wit and humour that is often lacking. Director Jeff Lieberman handles the movie well, and whilst it is rather slow; choosing to build suspense and atmosphere over easy shocks, it’s an unusual curiosity that has a feel all of its own. It has a genuine affection for its back woods location and the people that populate it. At the same time he is playful with the city/country dynamic and enjoys poking fun at some of the absurdities of life in Hicksville.
Visually the film looks great; the drowned greens and browns giving it a genuine, waterlogged feel. Arrow’s blu- ray is rather stunning; supervised by Lieberman himself it is really crisp and gives the image depth and clarity. Every corner of the screen is dripping with colour, and the worms themselves look wonderfully detailed and suitably disgusting when they all writhe together.
Arrow again offer a decent package, and there are a handful of bits and bobs for fans to sink their teeth into. The best of the bunch is an interview with all round cinematic guru and writer Kim Newman. He looks at Squirm and other man vs. nature movies with his usual wit and excitement, and offers a lot of insight into where Squirm sits in the scheme of things. An interview with Lieberman and star Don Scardino is also worth a look, although Scardino seems more excited than the rather stoic director. It is all an interesting glimpse at a director who has been surprisingly low profile, and un-prolific. Squirm may not be a masterpiece, but it is handled with a dexterity and skill that suggests Lieberman should have had a more fruitful career.