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directed by Jeff Lieberman
USA 1976

 

THIS WAS THE NIGHT OF THE CRAWLING TERROR!

One of the most original and entertaining of the revenge-of-nature films that characterised mid-1970s American horror, Squirm begins with a pylon being downed by a thunderstorm, sending millions of volts into the wet, conductive mud, which naturally gives hundreds of thousands of its wriggly inhabitants an insatiable hunger for human flesh.

And since the accident has also inconveniently cut off the electricity to Fly Creek, Georgia, its population could hardly be more vulnerable when the sun goes down. Houses can be barricaded against most intruders, but what happens when they're small enough to get into the water supply?

Writer-director Jeff Lieberman (who also made the cult classics Blue Sunshine and Just Before Dawn) achieves a near-perfect blend of knowing wit and good old-fashioned scares, with make-up genius Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London) on hand for some of the memorably disgusting special effects.

Posters

Theatrical Release: 30 July 1976 (USA)

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Comparison:

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas and Gary Tooze for the Screen Caps!

(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT)

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

Arrow Video
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:32:42 1:32:46.852
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.28 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 30,402,506,783 bytes

Feature: 24,548,229,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

MGM

 

Bitrate:

 

Arrow Blu-ray

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
* LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles English, English (CC), French, Spanish, none English SDH, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by director Jeff Lieberman
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:54)
• TV Spot (16:9; 0:53)

DVD Release Date: 26 August 2003
Amaray

Chapters 16
 

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio:1.85:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 30,402,506,783 bytes

Feature: 24,548,229,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by director Jeff Lieberman
• Q&A with Lieberman and actor Don Scardino from New York's Anthology Film Archives (24:03)
• 'The Esoteric Auteur' - critic Kim Newman on Jeff Lieberman and 'Squirm' (16:09)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:55)
• Reversible Sleeve with original poster art and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
• Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Lee Gambin, author of 'Massacres by Mother
• Nature' and an interview with Jeff Lieberman by Calum Waddell illustrated with archive stills
• Region 2 PAL DVD of the feature and extras

Blu-ray Release Date: 23 September 2013
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray (September 2013): Image and Audio take the HD leap and both are superior to the SD rendering. I suspect it was the same Master used but the higher, 1080P, resolution advances the a/v in the expected areas - detail, contrast and colors tighten. This is a dual-layered transfer with a solid bitrate. There is no noise or artefacts and grain is marginally more prevalent. The Robert Prince score benefits from the linear PCM track in 2.0 channel and there are optional English subtitles. 

Gary Tooze

On the Extras: The commentary with director Jeff Lieberman has been carried over from the 2003 MGM US DVD release. He mentions that a lot of people - including Mystery Science Theater 3000 - failed to realize that SQUIRM was already a spoof ("you can't goof on something that's already a goof"). He points out bits that were snipped from the film for a PG rating (like Patricia Pearcy's nudity) and Rick Baker's effects (which I recall being grisly enough when I first saw the film on television before MGM started restoring and remastering their AIP titles). He also discusses R.A. Dow's "Method" approach to his part, as well as Jean Sullivan's Tennessee Williams-esque reading that he was too inexperienced as a director to tone down at the time. He also reveals that Martin Sheen was originally cast in the lead, that Sylvester Stallone wanted to play the role of Roger (all the while waiting to hear about ROCKY getting greenlighted), and turning down Kim Basinger for Patricia Pearcy's role since he though she looked to glamorous too be "a girl who lived next to a worm farm" (he now regrets those casting decisions). He also frankly discusses all those little heavy-handed "jerk-off" artistic touches which seem charming by overblown contemporary standards.

Jeff Lieberman and actor Don Scardino appear in a 2012 Q&A at a New York Film Archives 35mm screening of the film. They and the audience are in good humor about the film's charms. Lieberman discusses the original plans to set it in the Northeast a la H.P. Lovecraft, the influence of THE BIRDS, and the extras who were all extras. There's some overlap with the commentary, but the venue is different (i.e. this extra wasn't produced for the Blu-ray release to supplement the existing extras), it has input from Scardino (who thought the film was a comedy while he was making it), and there is some interaction with the audience that prompts some additional discussions (the film's sound designer worked with Brian De Palma, and the sound of the worm's screaming came from the sounds he recorded for CARRIE). Of Martin Sheen's being originally cast in Scardino's role, Scardino reveals that Sheen mentioned it to him years later when the actor-turned-TV director was directing an episode of NBC's THE WEST WING). Producer Edgar Lansbury is also revealed to be in the audience.

Critic Kim Newman discusses Lieberman and the film, which he believes was more successful in the UK because the film - and it's UK novelization - came at a time when killer insect and rodent books (like James Herbert's RATS and Shaun Hutson's SLUGS) were popular. He also checks off how the film met the exploitation genre's (particularly Roger Corman's) requirements: violence every five minutes, female nudity, a smidgeon of social significance (eco-horror here). Newman also suggests that Lieberman was more conservative than his contemporaries George Romero and John Carpenter (if only to be a contrarian).

The Arrow set also includes a booklet with a new essay on the film - that places the film not so much in the context of "nature attacks" films but in the company of films about "small towns eating themselves into non-existence" like KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS and ARACHNOPHOBIA - and a text interview with Lieberman that appears to have been conducted a few years ago since it mentions an upcoming release of JUST BEFORE DAWN by Media Blasters (which occurred in 2005, and that film is now actually forthcoming on Blu-ray from Code Red) and Sage Stallone without acknowledging his recent death. The booklet also includes poster art and archival stills.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


 Menus
(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT)


 

 
 

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Screen Captures

(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

Arrow Video
Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 




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