Well, I’m happy because I got to watch another Nature Hates You movie. I’ve seen it before but only on Mystery Science Theater 3000. This was 1976’s schlock-fest Squirm. Oh Squirm, you’re so cheesy but I love you so much. The short summary of the movie is that it’s about electricity driving worms crazy and making them crave human flesh. But this movie is so much goofier than that. Also, it’s kind of gross.
The movie starts my absolutely favorite way, with a scrolling introduction that’s only slightly shorter than the one for Star Wars: A New Hope, about how one time something really freaky happened in Georgia.
Are you ready for some killer worms? HUH? ARE YOU!?
Basically, a big storm knocks down an electrical tower at Fly Creek, Georgia. I know, I’m totally surprised too that a place named Fly Creek even has electricity. All the electricity makes the worms go crazy and crave flesh. This movie features more closeups of worms than any other movie.
Whenever there’s a closeup, the worms roar. For some reason. Because worms by themselves aren’t quite gross enough, they have to make noise too.
Meanwhile, skinny, pasty, Geri is planning on meeting a city-slicker suitor that she met at an antique show.
The final point of this love-triangle is Roger, the possible result of an attempt to crossbreed a human with a chipmunk.
Geri catches Roger spying on her. This part was lopped out of the MST3K version, probably due to pronounced creepiness. After catching Roger spying, Geri asks to borrow his truck so she can pick up Mick. Uhm, if I caught someone spying on me I wouldn’t ask them any favors, amIrite?
Geri takes Mick to pick up some ice and the slick northerner gets into a confrontation with the smarmy southern sheriff at a lunch counter.
He finds a worm in his egg cream and somehow, the crates of worms in the back of the truck are all emptied. Oh yeah, Roger’s dad is Willie, the owner of the bait and worm emporium in Fly Creek.
Geri and Mick have an appointment with Mr. Beardsley, one of the town’s antiques dealers. Apparently, the town has a thriving antique business with tourists. Unfortunately, you never see this. It’s just referenced in dialogue while the town continues to look like a place you’d go to get murdered. They can’t find Mr. Beardsley at his house but they do find a skeleton.
They try to tell the sheriff but when they go back to show him, the skeleton is GONE. Dunh dunh dunnnnh! I guess the worms put it on their little worm backs and squirmed away with it. Or something.
I should note that while one his way to meet Geri, Mick fell into the swamp and his clothes got soaked. By this point, he has yet to change his clothes. I can’t help wondering how badly he would smell and how badly he’d be chaffing by now.
Mick finally does change his clothes, into Geri’s dead dad’s clothes. He probably got them from a chiffarobe or something. For some reason, he changes in front of Geri’s sister, Alma. They also smoke a joint together. This scene was also cut out of the MST3K version. That kind of makes me sad. Alma is eight-levels of awkward and, according to Mike and the ‘bots, looks like she should be playing with the New York Dolls. But there’s something endearing about her and I wish we’d seen more of her character. It’s like she knows that there’s a world beyond rummaging through dead people’s stuff in Fly Creek. So what if the Pringles guy is on the seat of her pants?
Anyway, Geri and Mick convince Roger to go fishing with them.
Mick gets bitten on his tissue-papery skin by a worm so he leaves his girlfriend alone on a boat with the maniac obsessed with her. Yeah, this isn’t going to end well. After trying to kiss Geri, Roger is attacked by worms and becomes…da worm-face!
I’ll admit, a good portion of this movie focuses on gross-out horror. And that’s pretty gross and pretty impressive. Squirm features some early makeup work by none-other than Rick Baker.
Roger runs off while Mick and Alma do some sleuthing. Mick finds the skeleton in Roger’s truck and takes the skull to the dentist to identify it. It turns out that the skeleton is Mr. Beardsley. Also, that Roger had a surprise for Geri (Pronounced “zooprize” by Roger)–he wanted to quit the worm business and was going to sell the skeleton for $100. Yikes, this really is the deep south.
Mick and Alma also discover that Willie has succumbed to the worms.
Mick realizes that the worms are scared of light. But dark is coming! He goes to an abandoned rice factory to get some plywood to board up the house but is attacked by Roger. At this point, Roger shrieks my favorite line in the movie, “You gonna be da worm-face!”
Turns out he wasn’t quite dead. Predictably, Mick is knocked out after a piece of plywood falls on him. Roger scampers to Geri’s house and attacks her. Mick finally makes his way back and discovers that the house is full of pools and pools of worms. I didn’t screen-cap this because, honestly, it’s really gross. I can’t deny it, the sound effects add to the skin-crawling creepiness of these scenes. It’s as if you can really hear the worms writhing around.
Mick finally ends up saving the girl, by getting Geri climb a tree. He gets into a moderate fight with Roger and lightly pushes him down the stairs, to his wormy death. Alma manages to save herself by hiding in a trunk.
People often ask me why I watch movies like this. I generally prefer these kinds of movies over the universally beloved ones. I’ve never seen The Godfather and I just saw Avatar today.
I just really love a movie with more heart than budget, I guess is what I’m trying to say. While this movie isn’t really scary, it is pretty gross and kind of creepy. It’s fun. And, for extra fun, I’ve included the short that they showed with this episode on MST3K. It’s called “A Case of Spring Fever” and it has Satan’s handwriting all over it. Enjoy!