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Squirm – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

SquirmSquirm is a film that I had never truly seen in its entirety before.  I had caught scenes of it on television at different times (Maybe not even knowing what the movie was).  It was a popular late night cable movie in the 80s and early 90s.  Also, as a big fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I know this film as one of the final episodes of the entire series (And the films are heavily edited for that as well).  The director Jeff Lieberman also directed one of my all time favorite slashers a few years after Squirm called Just Before Dawn (Which I reviewed last year).  Don Scardino is mostly known now for what he’s directed, but I’ll always remember him from another slasher film called He Knows You’re Alone (Also the feature film debut of none other than Hollywood legend, the one the only Tom Hanks).  Thanks to Scream Factory, I’m finally getting to see Squirm in its slimy entirety thanks to this new collector’s edition.

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Film 

The fishing town of Fly Creek is rocked by a dangerous and destructive thunderstorm.  Power lines are brought down all over town, causing blood sucking, skin burrowing, human eating worms to be brought to the surface.  Mick is coming in from the big city to stay with the gal he fancies Geri.  Worms begin slowly attacking, killing and growing in numbers with Mick and Geri catching on to the phenomenon.  Problem being nobody will believe them, plus the local law man doesn’t like Mick or any city folk, until its too late.

Squirm is one of those goofy 70s drive-in exploitation type horror movies that worked like gangbusters to packed theaters back in the day.  It’s also got that nature-horror stuff that was popular as well.  You take some concept of nature and in this case, something sure to gross a majority of theater patrons out, couple it with some sort of viable plot and Wah-lah!  Success!  Most people find worms icky, so if you have a whole slew of thing, mixed in with close ups of some of the grossest ones, then make them swarm all over people, audience members are gonna get squeamish and go nuts.  Its like the movie is just waiting for that guy to lick his finger and slide it across the back of his date’s neck while she’s into the movie.  And there’s nothing wrong with this kind of cinema, it can be a lot of fun.

Make-up and effects legend Rick Baker was called upon to work on this movie.  His work is crazy good, with the face of Roger Grimes being the highlight.  This was actually one of the last movies he did before he landed Star Wars.  And we all know he blew up after that (Yet still made time for The Incredible Melting Man).  There are some dead bodies that look groovy and some nice worm effects, but I think his main conquest was getting that worm infested face of Grimes perfected.  It works well too, as that’s the iconic image from this movie and I think one that movie-goers remember even if they haven’t had the privilege of sitting down to watch this worm-trodden horror.

It’s kind of a bummer that Don Scardino pretty much hung up his acting shoes after 1981.  Not that he hasn’t done good work since then, its just that he’s got a really goofy but fun screen presence.  Aside from the sheriff who shows up a few times, Scardino really commands and leads this movie.  A side note, has their ever been a horror movie that had two gingers as leads?  This might be one of the few, if not only times, this has happened in film history.  Not one, but two.

Jeff Lieberman’s Squirm isn’t some masterpiece of horror cinema.  But its some pretty high class schlock.  You know if you’re a fan of this type of thing.  People who like to get squeamish will dig it and people who love drive-in cinema should love it.  Actually this one is a pretty notable cult film, so yeah, you know who you are, you probably already own this on DVD and are waiting for the spec sections to know more about the movie.  Its a charming piece of cinema and good film to watch with a group.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  This is another one of those Scream Factory titles that “doesn’t deserve” to look this good.  Its a nicely done transfer that isn’t anything spectacular, but man does it look rather nice when its all cleaned up.  This version definitely has detail, but mostly I think gets the hot sticky kind of gross atmosphere across in its frames in spades.

Depth: Some solid work here.  There are some good moments on the fishing boat as well as the climax in the house.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid if not on the softer side.  Detail still looks good and it enhances sharpness.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are rather toned down here.  Green is one of the stronger suits.  This movie is supposed to look warm and kind of dull, featuring a lot of dirt roads and rather muted 70s colors of clothing.  Red had does pop a little bit.

Flesh Tones:  Slightly warm and consistent.  Detail is solid on facial features.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some specs and dirt throughout, but all of it very minor.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  You get to hear every little wormy detail in this 2.0 mix.  There’s a nice balance of score, effects and dialogue set to varying degrees of volume for a nice full experience.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Loud and clear.  Really impressed with how this sounds considering the kind of film it was.

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Extras 

Squirm comes with a reversible interior artwork that displays the original theatrical art for the film (done by legend Drew Struzan).  Its pretty awesome so flip it around.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Director Jeff Lieberman

Digging In: The Making Of Squirm (HD, 33:11) – Jeff Lieberman and star Don Scardino discuss getting the film off the ground, shooting it and the impact it had in theaters upon release.  For being just two people its pretty engrossing.

Eureka! With Jeff Lieberman (HD, 7:04) – The director takes us to the site of where he came up with the idea for the film.  Showing us how his brother used a rod to send an electric impulse into the ground to make worms come up to use for bait.

Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:56)

TV Spot (HD, :55)

Radio Spot (HD, 1:01)

Still Gallery – 25 behind the scenes images, promo shots, lobby cards and posters.

More From Scream Factory – Trailers for Pumpkinhead, Motel Hell, The Beast Within

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Summary 

Oddly, Squirm seems to be on the lighter end of Collector’s Editions of Scream Factory titles.  Not many people returned to discuss it, but they got the most important two, and a commentary track as well.  Funny enough, Shout! Factory will be releasing the Squirm episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 next month on DVD.  It may have been neat to include that episode as a bonus feature on this collector’s edition, but that’s probably a whole other rights mumbo jumbo that’s not worth it to try.  Anyway, the film looks and sounds great, and the extras, while a lighter affair than usual, should fill your can of worms.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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