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Director: Jeff Lieberman
Cast: Don Scardion, Patricia Pearcey, R.A. Dow, Fran Higgins
Length: 92 min
Rating: BBFC: 18
Disks: 2 (1 BD, 1 DVD)
Label: Arrow Films
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: Mono PCM 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Among the pantheon of the “natural” horror genre, few are as revered as cult horror director Jeff Lieberman’s debut Squirm (1976). The film features early makeup work from Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker, and since it’s release, it remains the most popular of Lieberman’s films. The film was released on DVD by MGM in 2003, but is now “squirming” onto Blu-ray for release via Arrow Video.
Squirm opens with a violent storm that tears down one of the power lines in the small town of Fly Creek, Georgia. This, in turn, causes all the worms below ground to surface, and become carnivorous monsters. Mick and Geri (played by Don Scardino and Patricia Pearcy) set out to discover the cause of this and stop it, before they become worm-food themselves. The film’s plot is serviceable, but plot holes persist in poking through. For example, it’s not explained how Mick and Geri met. They seem to be romantically involved, but have little on screen chemistry; it’s like he hopped on a bus from the city after meeting her once! Despite the lack of on screen chemistry, all the actors do a decent job with the material and it makes for a fun B-movie experience.
Then newcomer Rick Baker does an excellent job with the practical effects. There’s a scene where the worms burrow into Roger’s face, after Geri rejects his advances when they’re fishing. The worms squirm and writhe around, half in his face, half out. It’s a ghastly image that will stay with you, long after you watch the film.
Overall, the MPEG-4 AVC-encoded transfer does a great job. Natural film grain is present, but never detracts from the image quality. Color and details are well-balanced, with nice earthy tones throughout, reflecting the atmosphere of the small Georgia town. Red’s pop, namely with Mick’s shirt throughout the film and the blood effects (though, it’s never obtrusive in manner). The print itself is in good shape, with no age damage to speak of. Hats off to Arrow’s 1080p transfer; it’s likely the best we’re going to get with the film.
The Uncompressed Mono track suits the film well. The dialogue and music are crisp, and clean. The audio levels are balanced, and there were no instances of popping, hissing, or other things to mar the mono track.
While there are some great extras with this release, compared to other Arrow releases, it feels like there should be more. There’s an Audio Commentary with director Jeff Lieberman. There’s a Live Q&A session with Lieberman and star Don Scardino from New York s Anthology Film Archives (2011). There’s an interview with Kim Newman, original theatrical trailer, and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin. Finally, there’s a Collector’s Booklet featuring a new essay on the film from Lee Gambin, author of Massacred by Mother Nature.
The Arrow Video release of Jeff Lieberman’s cult classic, Squirm is a must have for horror aficionados. Despite, the plot holes, the film’s story is serviceable, and it features great makeup work from Rick Baker. The video and audio transfers do a good job of presenting this film in all its “squirm” inducing glory, and the extras, albeit a bit thin, are nonetheless informative. Be sure to pick this horror gem up on September 23rd!