Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blu-ray Review: SQUIRM (1976) [Scream Factory]

Squirm (1976)

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The Movie

The mid-1970s was a very fertile time for animal attack movies. Films like GRIZZLY, DAY OF THE ANIMALS, THE SWARM, etc were dropping into theaters, but I imagine that even nature-amuck-hungry audiences weren’t prepared for something like Director Jeff Lieberman’s film, SQUIRM. That’s not to imply that the film is mind-blowing - because it’s not - but to say that what SQUIRM lacks in sensibility, it more than makes up for in its sheer “What the Fuck” nature.

SQUIRM takes place in a small town named Fly Creek (how’s that for a name?), where an unusually bad storm causes power lines to drop and send waves of electricity into the ground. Unfortunately, for the town’s residents, a loss of power isn’t the only nuisance that results from the accident; hordes of earthworms have also surfaced from the ground and proceed to wreak havoc.

Yup, SQUIM is a killer worm movie… And these aren’t the oversized nuclear mutations of 1950s sci-fi films; these are your standard worms. And they are everywhere.

Is it scary? No, unless the viewer suffers from Helminthophobia (fear of worms or worm-like objects), then SQUIRM isn’t particularly frightening. However, it is wholly entertaining in a way that most of Lieberman’s films are. Sure, some of the charm is from the audacious premise and special effects (rubber worms, anyone?), but honestly, all goofiness aside, SQUIRM is entertaining not because it’s “so bad it’s good,” but because it takes itself so seriously that it’s hard to dismiss.

Sure, the performances aren’t award-worthy, and there’s a lot about it that doesn’t make sense, but the movie flies by at a brisk 93 minutes, and not one of them is boring. The music is also wonderfully over-dramatic, and it somehow makes the absurdity of the scenario that much more tolerable.

Viewers who are looking for scares, gore, or realism should probably look elsewhere. However, for those who are inclined to enjoy monster movies, or bizarre 1970s cinema, SQUIRM is definitely worth watching. Fans of movies like SLUGS, THE NEST, RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR, and the like will be in for a real treat.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

SQUIRM comes home from Scream Factory in one of their "Collector's Edition" Blu-ray releases. The new artwork looks great, and a slipcover is included in the first pressing for those who are inclined to clamor for that sort of thing. As usual, original poster art is also included on the reverse of the sleeve.

Video Quality (4/5)

The 1080p AVC-Encoded transfer included here is very good. This is definitely the best that SQUIRM has ever looked on home video, and aside from seeing it on a pristine 35mm print in a theater, I imagine this is the best it will ever look.

Audio Quality (4/5)

As is customary, Scream Factory retains the original Mono sound mix for the film; presented here in a new DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. This isn't the kind of movie that is going to show off your new home theater setup, but it sounds very good and faithfully reproduces what the film probably sounded like in theaters.

Extra Features (4/5)

Considering that SQUIRM is one of Scream Factory's "Collector's Edition" discs, it should go without saying that there are some great extras included here.
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jeff Lieberman: A very insightful commentary with Lieberman. The Director waxes about the production, the choices that were made, and the differences in the PG-rated theatrical cut and the Unrated cut on the disc. He also talks quite a bit about how the film was meant to be a goof, but many people (including Myster Science Theater 3000) didn't get the joke.
  • (New) Digging In: The Making of Squirm (~33 min): A retrospective making-of piece on the film. As usual, there is a lot of information included here, and it is quite good.
  • (New) Eureka! with Jeff Lieberman (~7 min): A tour of the film's locations with Director Jeff Lieberman.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Radio Spot
  • Still Gallery

Final Thoughts

SQUIRM isn't a cinematic masterpiece, but it's an enjoyable, often goofy film. Scream Factory's new Blu-ray release looks and sounds great, and it features several bonus features that will no doubt please fans of the film (and probably even entertain casual viewers).


Blu-ray Score


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