Helminthophobia, scoleciphobia or vermiphobia is the fear of worms, especially parasitic worms. I, luckily, do not have this phobia per se. However, when there are thousands of worms, bugs, or even reptiles, my skin will inevitably crawl.
Case in point: Squirm (1976) which aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000 on August 1, 1999 The plot is this: In 1975, in Fly Creek, a small town in Georgia, a powerful electrical storm topples large high-voltage power lines, which in turn pumps electricity into the ground altering earthworms in a way never before seen. The day after the storm, a boy from New York City (yes, I know, I hate adding on the city, but when you watch this movie you will quickly understand) visits a Georgia Peach to go antiquing (yes, you heard me: antiquing). He soon finds a worm in his egg cream (yes, he orders an egg cream), a fresh skeleton, and a worm farmer with inner rage and potential to kill or at least throw plywood at people. This is the kind of movie that will have you rooting for the worms, at the same time forming a mild case of vermiphobia ("You gon' be dah worm-face!"). You will be happy to note that the makeup was done by legendary Rick Baker
Some of my favorite quotes from the guys on the Satellite of Love are the following:
“We've got some more 'Eraserhead' chicken.” / “C'mon! No one's that southern.” / “Well, I don't know why, but, okay.”
If that is not enough to entice you, how about the educational video that precedes the film: A Case of Spring Fever (1940). Nobody wants to be haunted by Coily, the Spring Sprite. “Noooo springs! Yee-hee!”
I am sure you guessed it, but the best worm movie to pair with Squirm is clearly Tremors (1990). Kevin Bacon once taught us how small towns can be dangerous places for fun and dancing. In Tremors, Bacon shows us that small towns can also be terrorized by gigantic burrowing worms (Graboids).
Graboids are, of course, part of the Sandworm Family. We have seen their ilk in Star Wars and Beetlejuice, as well as Dune, but in those works they only get 15 minutes of fame. In Tremors the sandworm is the star (move over Bacon). And like many mega monsters before them, Graboids get more than one shot at destroying humans (the current movie count is 4). The best monsters always get sequels. You can see here why - terrifying! Again, another film where you are not sure if you should root for the small town heroes or the worms.
With Halloween still 21 days away, I hope you will give this little double feature a try. Just remember, earthworms wait until you die to clean your flesh. Don't forget to check back next week for another installment of October Movie Roll Call.