|“||Where does Coily fit into God's plan for us?||”|
|— Crow T. Robot|
|“||"C'mon! No one's that southern!"||”|
|— Tom Servo|
Squirm is the 12th episode of the tenth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the 197th episode overall, and the penultimate episode of the entire series (at the time). It premiered on August 1, 1999.
A Case of Spring Fever
SynopsisBy accidentally bad-mouthing springs, a doughy man runs afoul of Coily the Spring Sprite, a little creature with a single tooth, pointed ears and a voice like a cartoon grandpa. Angered by the man's taking springs for granted, the vindictive Coily shows the man a dystopian world where springs no longer exist. Whenever the man attempts to use something that once contained springs, Coily lunges out of the device, shrieking "No springs!" before chuckling and disappearing with an odd whistling noise.
At the brink of insanity, our lumpy hero pleads with Coily to return him to the world he once took for granted. After a brief moment of consideration, Coily relents and returns springs to the universe. After his epiphany, the man becomes a spring zealot, preaching about the marvelous wonders of springs and their importance in everyday life, much to the annoyance of his golf buddies. On the drive home, one of his friends makes the same mistake he once made- wishing to never see another spring again- but he is cut short by our spring-spouting preacher before Coily can strike again.
- This short is famous for Coily's aforementioned quote which he repeats several times throughout the short.
- The short was referenced back in the Joel-era, during the "Waffle Man" skits in episodes 317 and 423 even though the actual short did not appear in riffed form until years later as the MST crew had seen the short but never got around to using in an episode.
- Goof: The man gets into his car on the driver' side but when he tries closing the door (with 'no springs') it's the passenger side door he's trying to close.
- Goof: When the man who is fascinated with springs is about to take his second shot at the golf course, two of his friends are standing next to the hole. In the next shot as the ball nears the hole, only one pair of shoes is visible by the hole, and the other friend has vanished.
- The final short the show ever did.
- Pinto Colvig, the voice of Coily, worked with the Walt Disney company throughout his career. He provided the voice of Goofy and Pluto in many cartoons from the 1930s through the 1960s.
- Featured as the short before RiffTrax Live: Sharknado.
On the early morning hours on September 29, 1975, in Fly Creek, a small town near the coast in Georgia, a powerful electrical storm rages one night. The high winds topple large high-voltage power lines, and the wires drag and snake along the wet, muddy ground.
The next morning, Geri Sanders (Patricia Pearcy) awaits the arrival of her new beau, Mick (Don Scardino), a city boy she met at an antique show while vacationing in New York City. Mick arrives on a bus that is forced to turn back due to a large tree that the storm has knocked down across the road. Instead, Mick chooses to walk through the woods, where Geri is amused to find him sunken into a mud hole.
Geri lives with her mother, Mrs. Sanders, and her younger sister, Alma. Alma is jealous of the attention Mick gives Geri, and tries her hardest to appear more cultured and stylish, since she thinks Mick will respond to this being from the city. Also jealous of Geri's relationship with Mick is Roger Grimes (R.A. Dow), a slightly backwards neighbor who adores Geri. Roger has loaned Geri his father's truck to go and fetch Mick, and there is an immediate problem: Roger's father is a "worm farmer", collecting thousands of worms to sell as bait. The crated worms, which were in the back of the truck, are now missing, the crates empty. Mr. Grimes blames Roger, but Roger knows he loaned the truck to Geri. Roger blames Mick, the interloper who has designs on Geri.
The electricity is still out in the area; Mrs. Sanders asks Geri and Mick to fetch a large block of ice for the refrigerator, and while they are in town, Mick stops into a diner. When he orders an "egg cream", the waitress has no idea what he wants, but she does her best to prepare the drink the way he describes it. Mick is shocked when he finds a worm in the drink, spilling it all over the counter. The waitress is furious, and Mick scolds her for serving him a drink with a worm in it; however, the worm has disappeared. The local redneck Sheriff overhears the outburst and makes a thinly veiled threat to Mick for "being disruptive". The locals obviously distrust Mick because he is from the city.Back at home, Mrs. Sanders is clearly spooked by the storm and the subsequent damage. She remains aloof and seemingly in her own world, and Geri admits that she has been that way ever since Geri's father passed away months earlier. The water service has been interrupted, too, and the shower does not work. Geri takes Mick to visit the local antiques dealer, Mr. Beardsley, but he is nowhere to be found, his home mysteriously abandoned. Mick and Geri are shocked to find a skeleton in the flower garden behind his home. They run and fetch the Sheriff, but when they return with him, the skeleton is gone. The Sheriff is furious, thinking Mick is trying to make a fool out of him, and scolding Geri for being involved in a prank.
Later, Mick and Geri go fishing with Roger, and while he is unaware, they discover the missing skeleton in the back of his truck. Mick and Geri don't say anything about it to him. While they are out on the boat, one of the large sandworms they use for bait bites Mick on the arm. Geri explains that the worms in the area bite with sharp, pincer-like jaws, but the wound on Mick's arm is quite bloody. Geri admits she's never seen a worm bite like that, but Roger says he has. He tells Mick and Geri that when he was a child, his father used Roger's electric train transformer in an experiment to see if they could jolt worms out of wet soil with electricity. The experiment worked, but the worms were extremely volatile when they emerged, biting half of Roger's thumb off.
Mick has Roger take him back to shore and leaves Geri alone with him on the boat so that he can examine the skeleton. While he is in the truck, Alma appears and startles him. Together they remove the skull from the skeleton and take it to the local dentist's office, where they break in. Mick is convinced the skull belongs to Beardsley himself and that he has been murdered, and he confirms this through Beardsley's dental records. How he was reduced to a skeleton, however, remains a mystery, and furthermore why Roger had took the skeleton and hid it in the back of his truck.
Meanwhile, back on the boat, Geri and Roger are alone and Roger makes a pass at Geri. When she rebuffs him, Roger is furious and they struggle. Geri knocks him over right onto the worms, which have overturned their small container and have slithered across the floor of the boat. Geri is horrified when Roger turns over, the worms attached to his face, and she sees them burrowing under his skin. They both fall out of the boat and into the water, where Roger runs off screaming into the woods, leaving Geri alone. Geri returns home in a panic and tries not to alert the fragile Mrs. Sanders that anything is wrong. In an attempt to shower off the dirt from the lake, Geri discovers that the water is still not working; as she fiddles with the knobs, she does not see that directly above her, worms have begun to emerge from the showerhead. They dangle from the large nozzle openings, then retreat mysteriously.
Mick and Alma return home and Geri finds out that the skull belongs to Mr. Beardsley. Geri is horrified and upset; she also tells them what happened to Roger. The insane Mrs. Sanders appears suddenly and starts to realize something is wrong, but nobody will tell her anything out of fear of upsetting her.Mick goes to the Grimes farm to see what happened to Roger, and he finds the body of Mr. Grimes. Thinking the old man had a heart attack, Mick puts his ear to Grime's shirt and hears a strange sound. Pulling the shirt open, he is horrified to see thousands of worms eating Grimes from the inside out.
When Mick returns to Geri, they deduce that Beardsley must have been killed by worms during the storm. They realize that Roger seems to have discovered the skeleton and taken it, mistaking it for one of Beardsley's antiques. They make one last attempt to convince the Sheriff, who is eating a spaghetti dinner with his girlfriend at a local restaurant. Skeptic, he angrily sends them away, threatening to arrest them.
Mick and Geri return home for dinner, when a large tree suddenly topples, crashing through the ceiling of the dining room. Nobody is hurt, but the side of the house is now ripped open and exposed. Mick goes around to the base of the tree and finds the upended root covered in worms. When he goes to get gasoline to burn them, he returns to find them gone. He deduces that what is driving the worms back is the light; it is still daylight, and light seems to keep the worms at bay. With the damage to the house, Mick goes off to find plywood to board up the openings; he knows that once the sun goes down, the worms will be free to attack once again. Geri sends him in the direction of an old mill that was torn down, but when he goes there he is attacked by Roger, who is now demented and behaving like an animal. He hurls Mick into a ditch and knocks him unconscious, leaving him for the worms that he knows will come.
Back at the house, Alma attempts to take a shower but also finds the water is still off. She does not realize the pipes are full of worms. Unlike Geri, she leaves the faucet open, and after she leaves, worms begin falling out of the showerhead. Eventually the showerhead breaks off completely, and a steady stream of worms gushes into the bathroom, which is now filling up with the things.
Roger, still with worms in his face, lurks outside the house in the falling darkness, while Mrs. Sanders begins to behave strangely, indicating that she's losing her grip on reality. When she sends Geri into the kitchen for something, Roger appears and grabs her. Mrs. Sanders and Alma aren't aware that he's in the house, and Mrs. Sanders mentions that she hears water running in the bathroom. Alma remembers she left the faucet on, and goes upstairs. But when she opens the bathroom door, a sea of worms pours out of the room into the hallway.
Other residents of Fly Creek are attacked by millions of worms. The Sheriff and his girlfriend, who are having sex in an empty jail cell, are consumed by a flood of worms, as are the patrons of the local bar.
Mick regains consciousness and finds himself surrounded by pools of worms. He saves himself by making a torch out of his shirt and fending them off with the light. When he goes back to the house, he finds worms pouring all around the place, covering the floor. They shy away from Mick's torch, allowing him to enter the house, where he finds the body of what used to be Mrs. Sanders, covered in writhing worms. Going upstairs in search of Alma and Geri, Mick is attacked by Roger, who emerges from the attic. He has kidnapped Geri and tied her up, keeping her hostage in the attic room. Mick drops his torch in the struggle; no longer able to fend off the worms, he cannot go back downstairs, and by now the entire downstairs of the house is literally engulfed in a sea of worms that almost reach the ceiling. When Roger tries to push him into the worms, Mick manages to throw him in instead, and the worms pull Roger underneath of them.
Mick unties Geri and they attempt to climb out of an upstairs window into a tree. Roger, however, has emerged from the sea of worms, crawling like a worm himself. He attacks Mick, who beats him to death with a flashlight. Mick and Geri escape into the tree.
The next morning, they awaken in the tree branch to find the sun has risen and driven the worms away. A representative from the electric company tells them the power is back onn and the towers have been repaired; he remarks that the town seems deserted. Inside the house, a large steamer trunk opens and Alma emerges, still alive; she apparently managed to get inside before the worms engulfed her. Mick and Geri are ecstatic that she has survived, and they run inside to greet her.
- Kim Basinger auditioned for the female lead.
- Sylvester Stallone eagerly pursued the casting agents for the part of Roger, and Martin Sheen was briefly attached to the project to play Mick.
- Director Jeff Lieberman is better known for his extremely bizarre, cult-classic, 1978 horror film Blue Sunshine.
- Based on an incident that took place in Fly Creekm Georgia in 1975.
- The film was shot in 24 days.
- Jeff Lieberman chose Brian Smedley-Aston to edit the film because Smedley-Aston was the editor on Performance (1970), one of Lieberman's favorite films.
- According to director Jeff Lieberman, the reason actress Jean Sullivan spoke with such an exaggerated southern accent was because she was a fan of Tennessee Williams and was paying homage to him.
- Director Jeff Lieberman cited Hitchcock's The Birds (1963, with Tippi Hedron) as the film's biggest influence.
- Aside from the main cast the rest of the people featured in the film were locals of Port Wentworth, Georgia - the small town where the film was shot on location.
- R.A. Dow, who played Roger, was a Method actor and lived in Port Wentworth, Georgia, for a few weeks before the shoot began so he could develop a feel for the local character.
- The shot of the worms pouring out of the living room ceiling was actually a reverse shot. The camera was turned upside down and filmed live worms being dropped onto a floor that was a mock-up of the ceiling. When the footage was reversed, it appeared as if the worms fell from a hole in the ceiling.
- According to director Jeff Lieberman, there was no trickery used in the scene where the tree falls and smashes through the Sanders' dinning room. Lieberman said it was all done in one take with an actual cut tree being released from a crane to fall through the constructed set, complete with the actors on set. Several cameras were placed inside the set to capture the actors literally fleeing for their lives as the large tree landed within feet of them.
- The inspiration for the film came from a childhood experiment between director Jeff Lieberman and his brother. One evening the two hooked up a train transformer to wet soil and used the electricity to drive hundreds of worms out of the ground. Young Lieberman noticed that the worms tried to get away from the glare of the flashlight that the boys were using to see by because worms are light-sensitive. It became the scientific basis behind this film and the story of the experiment is re-told by the character of Roger Grimes.
- On the Region-1 DVD commentary of the film, Jeff Lieberman says that the old farmhouse used for Mr. Beardsley's home during the shoot is known as one of the most infamous haunted houses in Georgia.
- The amount of sea worms used in the film was countless, as the production would order shipments of 250,000 Glycera worms at a time. The production would end up wiping out New England's supply of Glycera fishing worms that year.
- The unearthly screeching sounds used for the worms are actually the electronically processed sounds of screaming pigs in slaughterhouses.
- During the production there was a mix up with the film processing lab. Footage from a wedding was accidentally sent to Lieberman and B roll footage of worms for the film was sent to the newlyweds.
- Once in the 1980s, WPIX-TV in New York accidentally showed the film in black-and-white. Instead of complaining, Jeff Lieberman called the station and mentioned how much he loved the way the film looked. In fact, Lieberman prefers people to watch the film in black-and-white even though a black-and-white version is not available. Instead, viewers are encouraged to turn the color down all the way on their television.
Prologue: The annual safety check on the SOL reveals that it's completely unsafe, and suggests an alternative use for HAM radios.Segment 1: Pearl is happy! She organizes a fair at Castle Forrester, modestly beginning her quest for worldwide fair domination. She's not impressed by the Bots' prize pig, but she is wowed by some other offbeat attractions. There seems to be a lot happening on the satellite that Mike isn't aware of.
Segment 2: Mikey the Mike Sprite visits and shows the Bots a world without Mike, but they are unfazed by Mikey's powers, mainly wishing for Mike back so Mikey will go away.
Segment 3: Servo has contracted an extreme case of Southern Belle-ness! It's up to Mike and Crow to Yankee him back to his senses.
Segment 4 : Mike replicates the electrical experiment from the movie on his pal Emmett the worm. With delicious results.
Segment 5: Crow tries to poke fun at the gangly younger sister in the movie by way of his really tall platform shoes. It's not long before he realizes the drawbacks of this plan. Back at the castle, Pearl appears to have seriously misunderstood the allure of bungee jumping. Come to the fair!
Stinger: "You gonna be dah worm-face!"
- In the DVD intro of this episode, Joel Hodgson admits this is the only movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 that he paid to see in a movie theater.
- Jeff Lieberman was so angered by this episode that he wrote an angry e-mail to Best Brains telling them how they were idiots for riffing his movie. His DVD commentary for Squirm even includes multiple digs at MST3K and their treatment of his film.
- “Jeeeeeeed!” (The Leech Woman)
- "It belongs to a guy named Al P. Yorick." (Hamlet)
- “The monster called Gamera is destroying the city.”
A Case of Spring Fever
- "My Tamagotchi seems okay!"
The Tamagotchi or "digital" pet was a late 1990s fad that originated in Japan.
- "This Edgar Kennedy one-man show is going good."
Edgar Kennedy was a popular comic actor during the 1920s and '30s.
- "Merry Christmas, you wonderful old couch!"
Paraphrasing George Bailey's line from It's a Wonderful Life.
- "I want to play but I can't" said in a voice like comedian Gilbert Gottfried
- "Roger!" "Ramjet!"
Roger Ramjet was a 1960s Saturday-morning cartoon about a comedic superhero.
- "Ford to Fly Creek: Drop dead"
A reference to a famous front page headline from the NY Daily News, "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD", related to President Gerald Ford declining to offer New York financial assistance.
- "Most bizarre freak of nature... oh, broccoflower!"
Broccoflower is a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower, resulting from cross-pollination. Broccoli and cauliflower (as well as several other vegetables) are selectively bred variants of the same plant species, brassica oleracea.
- "Uh-oh, he's gonna get Dave Barry all over his head!"
Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist who had a widely syndicated newspaper column until 2004.
- "The Jim Varney Library!"
- "He's actually lost in the Wooley Swamp.
"The Legend of Wooley Swamp" is a horror-based song by Charlie Daniels that is set in a swamp in the deep South.
- "I'm switching it to the all-'Philadelphia Freedom' station."
"Philadelphia Freedom" is an Elton John song recorded in 1975.
- "...and the yam that looks like Lyndon LaRouche!"
Lyndon LaRouche is an American political activist and perennial third-party presidential candidate, known for his bizarre, conspiracy-obsessed worldview and the cultlike movement that has grown up around him.
- "The Ford station wagon: Unsmall at any speed."
A reference to Unsafe at Any Speed, a book written by Ralph Nader in the 1960s.
- "Lowly Worm's Worst Day Ever!"
Lowly Worm was a character in Richard Scarry's Busytown children's books.
- "It's Chuck Wepner's skull!"
Boxer Chuck Wepner challenged Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight title in a 1975 bout that loosely inspired the first Rocky movie.
- "Please, I need to get back into Gary Hart's closet!"
Former Colorado senator Gary Hart campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, but dropped out of the race after a heavily publicized sex scandal tarnished his popularity.
- "...John Birch Society literature..."
The John Birch Society is an extreme right-wing American political organization.
- "It's the skull of Mortimer Snerd!"
Mortimer Snerd was a dummy used by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, who was more famous for Charlie McCarthy.
- "Rerun? Dwayne? Deedee? Shirley? Mama?"
Servo is listing characters from the 1970s sitcom "What's Happening!!".
- "Jame Gumb rents this shack!"
Jame Gumb, a.k.a. Buffalo Bill, was a transsexual serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs.
- "Kevin McHale, Cross-dresser."
- "Manute Bol's sister, Susan Bol!"
Manute Bol was a Sudanese-born basketball player known for his imposing height of 7'7".
- "Letters to Der Weise Engel"
Reference to the book and movie Marathon Man. Laurence Olivier's character, former head of a Nazi concentration camp, was nicknamed "Der Weise Engel" (the White Angel) by his inmates, and in one scene is recognized by several Jewish citizens in New York who cry out his nickname.
- "This is for Rudy Boschwitz!"
Rudy Boschwitz is a former Republican United States Senator from Minnesota who was defeated by Democrat Paul Wellstone in 1990 and then again in 1996. Before becoming a Senator from Minnesota, he was the founder and chairman of a plywood and Home Improvement retailer, Plywood Minnesota. (Tom (?) says this when Roger throws a piece of plywood on Mick.)
- "We're out of Billy Beer."
Billy Beer was promoted in the late 1970s by President Carter's brother Billy who was known for his love of beer.
- "Thanks, Hank Hill's friend."
A "King of the Hill" reference referring to Hank Hill's friends: Dale, Bill and Boomhauer. This riff most likely refers to Boomhauer in that the repairman's Southern drawl slightly resembles Boomhauer's rapid-fire redneck mumbling.
A Case of Spring Fever (short)
- [the title is shown]
- Servo: Me? I'd rather have a case of Bass Ale.
- Coily the Spring Sprite: So, you never want to see another spring, eh? Okay, mister, I'll fix it so you get that wish!
- Crow [as Coily]: ...In HELL!
- [After Gilbert, a rather rotund man, wishes there were no springs, Coily magically makes them disappear from the world.]
- Mike: So, one clod says one thing and the whole world pays???
- Crow [as Gilbert]: No springs? I don't care. There's still butter and meatloaf.
- [Gilbert proceeds to leave his house for the golf game. He closes the door, but due to the lack of springs in the door lock, it bounces back open.]
- Coily: Hey! The door!
- Servo [as Coily]: I own your ass, fatboy! Get back here!
- [After Gilbert discovers he can't even operate his car without springs, Coily appears.]
- Coily: Noooo springs! [laughs]
- Gilbert: Awww, gee, Coily, I didn't realize what I was wishing. I'm sorry for everything I said. Can't we call the whole thing off? Isn't there anything I can do? Please let me take back my wish.
- Coily: [rubs chin in thought] Wellll...
- Mike [as Coily]: NO!
- Coily: Okay! I'll do it, just this once! But next time, be careful! Don't ever make that wish again!
- . . .
- [With that, Coily makes all the springs reappear into existence.]
- Servo: So Coily waited all eternity for this moment and he backs down almost instantly?
- [After his experience with Coily, Gilbert turns his golf game with his friends into a massive filibuster about the greatness of springs.]
- Gilbert: [After a friend makes a bad shot in their game.] Too bad...
- Servo [as Gilbert]: ...but if you didn't hate springs so much, that wouldn't have happened!
- . . .
- Gilbert: You see all spring action depends on elasticity: the ability of material to return to it's original form after it's been forced out of shape...
- Mike [as Gilbert]: ...by anti-spring extremists.
- [After several jump cuts and the end of the game, Gilbert's lecture is still going on, much to the annoyance of his friends and the MST3K crew.]
- Gilbert: I never realised until lately that springs have such a universal use. Why, there's springs in mousetraps, guns, exercisers, hinges, pogo sticks...
- Mike [as friend]: Guns, huh?
- . . .
- Gilbert: Why, it's practically impossible to name anything in which a spring isn't an essential part in one way or another! [inexplicably looks into sky]
- Crow [as Gilbert]: Hey, look! God has a spring!
- [Gilbert finally finishes lecturing his friends on springs as he pulls up to Joe's house.]
- Gilbert: Hey, Joe! Wake up!
- Crow [as Gilbert]: It's Coily's army of darkness! Look!
- . . .
- Joe: You and your springs! I hope I never see another—
- Gilbert: Stop! Don't say it! Don't ever wish anything like that as long as you live!
- [Gilbert looks down to see Coily the Spring Sprite materialize on his car seat. Coily cackles.]
- Servo [as Coily]: You'll be the first to die!
- ["A Jam Handy Production" credit is shown.]
- Crow: Jam Handy, reminds you to keep your preserves in a convenient place!
- [The title SQUIRM appears on the screen.]
- Mike: Well, I don't know why, but okay.
- [Mike, Crow, and Servo all squirm around in their seats.]
- [the preface ends with "This is the story..."]
- Mike: [dramatically] Of a man named Jed!
- Servo [as Granny Clampett]: JEDDDDD!!!
- [Roger emerges and threatens our hero; after having had worms burrow into his face earlier.]
- Roger: You gonna be da worm face!
- Mike: No, you gonna be da worm face!
- [Mama Sanders and Geri get into an argument over Geri's "gentleman caller."]
- Mama: Alright, alright, I'll stop butting in.
- Mike [as Geri]: Mom, you don't even have a butt.
- Mama: I just don't want you to be too disappointed if he doesn't come.
- Crow [as Geri]: Mother! That's private.
- Mama Sanders: [in her exaggerated Southern accent] I never saw such a storm...
- Crow [as Mama]: I do hope Ashley Wilkes can get through.
- [Geri introduces Mick to her family.]
- Geri: Mick got off the bus and fell in the swamp! He's soaked clean through, even his suitcases.
- Mama Sanders: Well... well, you can give him some of Daddy's old clothes. They're upstairs in the trunk in the storage room.
- Servo [as Mama Sanders]: ...along with Daddy.
- [Geri wants to help Nick fetch some plywood for the windows.]
- Mick: No, no, no — you stay here. Your mother looks like she's about to crack. I'll be back before it gets dark.
- Servo [as Geri]: Mom cracked in 1953.
- [Partially worm-eaten Roger spies on the Sanders' home from outside in the dark.]
- Servo [as Roger/Stevie Wonder]: Isn't she lovely?
- [Geri's car bounces quite violently on a pothole]
- Servo [as Coily]: Noooo springs!
- Commercially released on DVD by Shout Factory in November 2014. It was released as part the Turkey Day Collection (aka Volume 31) along with the episodes Jungle Goddess, The Painted Hills, and The Screaming Skull. It included an exclusive interview with Squirm star Don Scardino.
- Scream Factory, a branch of Shout Factory, released a special edition standalone Blu Ray of Squirm one month before the release of the Turkey Day Collection.
|preceded by: Season 9||MST3K Season 10||followed by: Season 11|
|1001||Soultaker||1999-04-11||1006||Boggy Creek II: and the Legend Continues…||1999-05-09||1011||Horrors of Spider Island||1999-07-25|
|1002||Girl in Gold Boots||1999-04-18||1007||Track of the Moon Beast||1999-06-13||1012||Squirm||1999-08-01|
|1003||Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders||1999-09-12||1008||Final Justice||1999-06-20||1013||Diabolik||1999-08-08|
|1005||Blood Waters of Dr. Z||1999-05-02||1010||It Lives by Night||1999-07-18|