I was so happy to catch a screening of Squirm at the Anthology Film Archives (an awesome place!) with director and scripter Jeff Lieberman, Producer Edgar Lansbury and star Don Scardino in the attendance. This was a nice revisit to one of my favorite movies: a rural Georgia-set eco horror flick from 1976 where worms rise up to feast on townsfolk. Scardino, an awkward nerd Mick from New York, arrives in Fly Creek with an interest in junk-shop antiques and a red-headed lady Geri (Patricia Pearcy). When worm farm owner Willie Grimes (Carl Dagenhart) goes missing and Mick and Geri discover a skeleton, the two try to begin to unravel the mystery. Meanwhile, the thunderstorm-struck town, soon becomes a haven for bloodthirsty worms.
Squirm remains an enjoyable feature, especially because of Rick Baker's inventive makeup, the quick pacing, oddball characters, its rural setting and the charm of Scardino in the lead. It's sort of a cardboard tribute to The Birds with its big city outsider arriving in the small town, stern mother (the mother, played by Jean Sullivan, wanders around as if playing a matriarch in a Tennessee Williams play), and animal enemies that you wouldn't necessarily think of as murderous. According to Lieberman, Martin Sheen, Kim Basinger, and Sylvester Stallone were originally attached to the film. Who knows how their careers would have gone had they starred in this, but what an interesting concept! Lieberman, who also did another bizarre and strangely affecting day-to-night-to-morning after horror flick Just Before Dawn, seems like he genuinely enjoyed directing the picture and movie-making in general. Before the screening, he gave us permission to laugh, and that we did. ***