Thursday, October 6, 2011


I honestly believe that back before TBS was wrenched from Ted Turner's bosom that the call letters stood for "The Beastmaster Station." It seemed they ran that movie multiple times every week, and back to back after their WCW show on Saturday. TBS was at one time one of the greatest and most entertaining basic cable networks ever. It was a man's station, glutted with the Stooges, "Gilligan's Island", Chuck Norris movies, and weirdo late night horror excursions. I used to imagine that Turner himself had a lot to do with the programming. I envisioned him sitting in his office late at night, drinking bourbon while watching TV. I could clearly picture him grabbing the red TBS phone on his desk and saying, "I wanna watch one of them 'Boggy Creek' movies. And start it five minutes late. I gotta take a crap." It was easy to imagine that the balls-out insane lineups of bizarre 70s horror, stupid sitcoms, and knuckle bruising macho action flicks were all piled together at the whim of some wasted eccentric millionaire who thought, "Nothing good is on TV! Fuck it, I'm starting a SUPER STATION!" I know that's what I'd do if I were rich. It would be "Duckman" for an hour followed by "Food of the Gods" and then "American Ninja" followed by four hours of the "The Munsters."

TBS introduced me to a lot of weird movies during its late night runs. In fact, I taped a lot of obscure horror and sci-fi off of both channels which wasn't available on ANY format at the time. Of all the movies that they would air on late night weekends, "Squirm" was without a doubt the most memorable. The plot is absolutely bat shit: after a hurricane hits a rural swampy town, downed power lines pump electricity into the muddy soil which drives the underground population of blood worms insane. City Boy Mick is fortunate enough to be visiting this hick town around the same time while visiting his girlfriend's family. While bumbling around town and getting bounced by envious locals, he stumbles across a few bodies, and eventually discovers that these night crawlers are stripping the flesh off the locals after dark.

The concept of killer worms infesting a town is insane, and I've seen the film described as tongue-in-cheek, but I think the only humor to the film is the odd-ball premise. Otherwise, director Jeff Leiberman (also responsible for "Blue Sunshine") conducts this in a pretty straight forward manner. The film is not without humor. It's definitely quirky, but for the most part, it's treated very seriously, and the imagery throughout the film of the worms invading ordinary situations is absolutely evocative. What makes this a great horror film is that it takes something that is completely absurd and makes it plausible through the quality of the surrounding characters and extraneous situations. By all right, the concept of killer night crawlers is bullshit. But the world within which this problem is set feels real enough to make it work. Absolutely recommended. Check out the trailer from the fantastic AussieRoadShow.

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