Squirm (1976)

PG | 93 mins | Horror | 14 July 1976

Director:

Jeff Lieberman

Writer:

Jeff Lieberman

Producer:

George Manasse

Cinematographer:

Joseph Mangine

Production Designer:

Henry Shrady

Production Company:

Squirm Company
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HISTORY

The film opens with the written statement: "Late in the evening of September 29, 1975, a sudden electrical storm struck a rural sea coast area of Georgia. Power lines, felled by high winds, sent hundreds of thousands of volts surging into the muddy ground, cutting off all electricity to the small, secluded town of Fly Creek. During the period that followed the storm, the citizens of Fly Creek experienced what scientists believe to be one of the most bizarre freaks of nature ever recorded. This is the story...."
       The end credits conclude with the written statement, "Filmed on Location in Georgia."
       A news item in the 8 Aug 1975 DV reported that Squirm, an independently produced horror film about a New England town invaded by worms, would begin principal photography in autumn 1975. However, the 27 Oct 1975 Box announced that the $400,000 feature would begin production in Port Wentworth, GA, Nov 1975 near Savannah, GA. The location was arranged through Georgia’s Department of Community Development. According to the 17 Nov 1975 Box, principal photography began on 10 Nov 1975. The estimated three million Glyceria worms, or bloodworms, used in the film were housed and transported by the University of Georgia Oceanographic Institute, located on Skittaway Island, GA, using bins designed for the study of marine life.
       The 12 Jan 1976 Box announced that location photography in GA had been completed. Assistance for the final sequence, which employed 250,000 worms, was provided by the Port Wentworth’s Boy Scout troop, and earned each of the members a merit badge for ... More Less

The film opens with the written statement: "Late in the evening of September 29, 1975, a sudden electrical storm struck a rural sea coast area of Georgia. Power lines, felled by high winds, sent hundreds of thousands of volts surging into the muddy ground, cutting off all electricity to the small, secluded town of Fly Creek. During the period that followed the storm, the citizens of Fly Creek experienced what scientists believe to be one of the most bizarre freaks of nature ever recorded. This is the story...."
       The end credits conclude with the written statement, "Filmed on Location in Georgia."
       A news item in the 8 Aug 1975 DV reported that Squirm, an independently produced horror film about a New England town invaded by worms, would begin principal photography in autumn 1975. However, the 27 Oct 1975 Box announced that the $400,000 feature would begin production in Port Wentworth, GA, Nov 1975 near Savannah, GA. The location was arranged through Georgia’s Department of Community Development. According to the 17 Nov 1975 Box, principal photography began on 10 Nov 1975. The estimated three million Glyceria worms, or bloodworms, used in the film were housed and transported by the University of Georgia Oceanographic Institute, located on Skittaway Island, GA, using bins designed for the study of marine life.
       The 12 Jan 1976 Box announced that location photography in GA had been completed. Assistance for the final sequence, which employed 250,000 worms, was provided by the Port Wentworth’s Boy Scout troop, and earned each of the members a merit badge for their contribution. A news item in the 22 Mar 1976 Box stated that a final print would be available in early Apr 1976, and distributor screenings would occur during the weeks of 12 Apr and 19 Apr 1976.
       The 23 Jun 1976 DV reported that executive producers Edgar Lansbury and Joseph Beruh had already recovered their investment from Squirm, their first independent feature. The film was written, produced and sold for worldwide distribution within a year of its inception in May 1975, on a budget of $450,000. American International Pictures (AIP) advanced the producers $250,000 for domestic distribution, and they also received a total of $500,000 in guarantees from sixteen major territories, following a series of four screenings at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. Inviting “non-pro locals” to pack the audiences of the Cannes performances, Lansbury and Beruh gave potential distributors a preview of the public’s reception of the film. In addition, the producers provided prospective buyers and exhibitors with press materials while the film was in production, which created anticipation for the finished product. An opening was planned for 16 Jul 1976 in Buffalo, NY, and the film was tentatively scheduled to open in New York City as part of an AIP “Gold Medal” showcase.
       Squirm went into national release on 14 Jul 1976, and was distributed worldwide by AIP, according to the 9 Aug 1976 Box.
       Reviews were lukewarm, although the 17 Dec 1976 LAT said that the film “strikes a good balance between humor and terror.” While less positive, the 11 Aug 1976 Var described the somewhat awkward low-budget production as having “an admirable earnestness.” The review also complimented writer-director Jeff Lieberman on the opening statement and concluding plot resolution.
       The 18 Apr 1977 Box reported that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had changed the rating for Squirm from “R” to “PG.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Nov 1975.
---
Box Office
12 Jan 1976.
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Box Office
22 Mar 1976.
---
Box Office
19 Jul 1976.
---
Box Office
27 Oct 1975.
---
Box Office
18 Apr 1977.
---
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1976
p. 2, 4.
Los Angeles Times
17 Dec 1976
p. 21.
Variety
23 Jun 1976
p. 30.
Variety
11 Aug 1976
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
The Edgar Lansbury/Joseph Beruh production of
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
Unit mgr
Asst to prod mgr
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Asst cam
Key grip
Best boy
Stillman
2d asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus coord
Lyrics
SOUND
Rec mixer
Rec mixer
Sd ed
Magnofex
Loc sound
Boom man
Asst sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup des
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc coord
Prod assoc
Prod services furnished by
Prod services furnished by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 July 1976
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 15 December 1976
Production Date:
10 November 1975--early January 1976
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As a violent thunderstorm interrupts electrical and telephone service in Fly Creek, Georgia, downed power lines send thousands of volts of electricity into the wet soil, forcing bloodworms out of the ground. The next morning, antique dealer Geri Sanders dresses by her bedroom window, unaware that neighbor Roger Grimes, a bloodworm farmer, is watching her. Geri excitedly anticipates the arrival of her boyfriend, Mick, a New York City antique dealer who is visiting for the week. Alma, Geri’s fashion-conscious younger sister, is also looking forward to the visit, but their mother, Naomi, is badly shaken by the storm and anticipates something evil in its wake. Geri asks if she can borrow Roger’s delivery truck to pick Mick up from the bus depot. Roger is jealous of Geri’s new suitor, but allows her to use the truck, with the promise that she will not disturb the crates full of worms locked in the back. A downed tree blocking the road forces Mick to complete his journey on foot, and Geri finds him submerged up to his armpits in a swamp. Upon arriving in town, Geri stops to buy a block of ice for her disabled refrigerator, and Mick goes to a luncheonette, where he is immediately identified as an outsider. When Mick finds a bloodworm in his drink, both the waitress and Sheriff Jim Reston, who is sitting nearby, believe it is a prank, despite Mick’s denials. As he and Geri drive to the Sanders home, she explains that the townspeople are suspicious of tourists because their visits pollute coastal waters. No sooner do they arrive than Geri announces their ... +


As a violent thunderstorm interrupts electrical and telephone service in Fly Creek, Georgia, downed power lines send thousands of volts of electricity into the wet soil, forcing bloodworms out of the ground. The next morning, antique dealer Geri Sanders dresses by her bedroom window, unaware that neighbor Roger Grimes, a bloodworm farmer, is watching her. Geri excitedly anticipates the arrival of her boyfriend, Mick, a New York City antique dealer who is visiting for the week. Alma, Geri’s fashion-conscious younger sister, is also looking forward to the visit, but their mother, Naomi, is badly shaken by the storm and anticipates something evil in its wake. Geri asks if she can borrow Roger’s delivery truck to pick Mick up from the bus depot. Roger is jealous of Geri’s new suitor, but allows her to use the truck, with the promise that she will not disturb the crates full of worms locked in the back. A downed tree blocking the road forces Mick to complete his journey on foot, and Geri finds him submerged up to his armpits in a swamp. Upon arriving in town, Geri stops to buy a block of ice for her disabled refrigerator, and Mick goes to a luncheonette, where he is immediately identified as an outsider. When Mick finds a bloodworm in his drink, both the waitress and Sheriff Jim Reston, who is sitting nearby, believe it is a prank, despite Mick’s denials. As he and Geri drive to the Sanders home, she explains that the townspeople are suspicious of tourists because their visits pollute coastal waters. No sooner do they arrive than Geri announces their appointment with Aaron Beardsley, an antique collector. Their departure is interrupted by Roger, who confronts them about the disappearance of 100,000 worms from the truck, and explains that his father, Willie, holds him responsible for the estimated $300 loss. Geri apologizes, swearing that neither she nor Mick is guilty, and offers to help recover the worms, but Roger is silent and the two drive away. Geri tells Mick that the worms in question are bloodworms and sandworms, and will bite if not handled properly, further enhancing his vermiphobia. At the Beardsley home, there is no sign of the owner, but Geri and Mick discover a human skeleton partially submerged in mud. When they bring Sheriff Reston to the scene, the skeleton is gone and the sheriff dismisses the incident as another of Mick’s pranks, then demands the outsider leave town. Instead of following orders, Geri and Mick invite Roger to go fishing; he accepts but is unable to hide his jealousy. Later, Mick suspects that the worm in his luncheonette drink came from Roger’s truck, and when he and Geri investigate the vehicle, they find the skeleton in the back. Later, aboard Roger’s fishing boat, Geri is horrified when Mick’s arm is bloodied by a worm bite. Roger recalls losing part of his left thumb to worm bites after his father used electricity to draw the creatures from the ground. Mick asks to be dropped off at the dock so that he can treat his injury, despite Geri’s discomfort at being left alone with Roger. Secretly returning to the truck, Mick removes the skull from the skeleton and breaks into a dentist’s office with help from Alma; they determine the skull belonged to Aaron Beardsley. On the boat, Roger offers to join Geri in her antique business and tries to kiss her, but she pushes him away and he falls face-first into a pile of bait worms, which tunnel into his skin. He leaps from the boat in horror and wades to shore as Geri calls after him. She returns home, deeply upset but unwilling to explain the reason to her mother. When Mick and Alma enter the house, Geri confesses Roger’s misfortune to them. Mick assures her that Roger got home safely, and Alma nonchalantly asks if they plan to return Beardsley’s skull to the truck, triggering an argument between the sisters. Naomi intervenes and the girls cease fighting, intent on keeping their mother ignorant of the situation. As Geri and Mick reunite the skull with Beardsley’s other remains, they discover the body of Roger’s father, Willie, eaten alive by worms. When they locate Sheriff Reston in a restaurant with his wife, eating spaghetti, the sheriff dismisses the story as another of Mick’s purported pranks. At the Beardsley house, Mick and Geri speculate that Beardsley was eaten by worms, and Roger took the skeleton so he could sell it at auction. During dinner at the Sanders house, a dead tree falls on the dining room. Geri and Mick notice that the roots are covered with worms, which scatter quickly when exposed to light. Mick deduces that electricity from downed power lines is affecting the worms’ behavior, and they can be dispersed by light. Since the house needs to be sealed before nightfall, Mick walks to a demolition site to obtain scrap plywood while Geri lights candles around the house. Mick is attacked by Roger, who throws him into a ditch and leaves him unconscious. Meanwhile, the Sanders upstairs bathroom is overrun with worms entering through the bathtub faucet, and when Alma opens the door, thousands of the creatures topple out. Back at the ditch, Mick regains consciousness, fashions a torch using his shirt and a stick, and makes his way back to the house. At the sheriff’s office, Reston makes love to his wife in a jail cell, but they are eaten alive by a barrage of worms. Inside the Sanders home, Roger douses the candles and drags Geri to the attic, shortly before the living-room ceiling collapses and engulfs Naomi in worms. Returning to the house, Mick discovers Geri bound and gagged in the attic with Roger. The two men scuffle and Roger falls into the living room, now a teeming sea of worms. Mick frees Geri, but as they climb through a window onto a tall tree, Roger’s worm-infested corpse undulates up the stairs and bites Mick’s leg. Mick beats the corpse until it releases him, and he climbs to safety. Early the next morning, Geri and Mick are awakened by a power company engineer, who says the lines are repaired and service is restored, though he wonders why the town is empty. Inside the house, Alma emerges from a trunk and calls to Geri and Mick, who climb down the tree and run to her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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