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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives

Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: 1012- Squirm (with short: ‘A Case of Spring Fever’)


Short: (1940) In a moment of weakness, a frustrated guy wishes springs never existed … a wish he soon regrets.
Movie: (1976) Electrically supercharged worms attack the residents of a remote Georgia town.

First shown: 8/1/99
Opening: The SOL’s annual safety check reveals a surprising lack of same
Intro: Pearl is throwing a Castle Forrester Fair, and Tom and Crow’s livestock entry surprises Mike
Host segment 1: Crow rashly wishes that Mike didn’t exist and, sure enough, Mikey the sprite appears to grant his wish and enforce Crow and Tom’s somewhat reluctant repentance
Host segment 2: Tom comes down with severe southern belleness
Host segment 3: Mike’s plan to create mutant killer worms instead results in a tasty snack
End: Crow takes a fall from his reeeally high platform shoes; Pearl forces Brain Guy demonstrate the fair’s bungee jump attraction, which has some flaws
Stinger: “You gon’ be da worm face!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (290 votes, average: 4.45 out of 5)


• Well, this one is a lot of fun. The short, of course, is golden, just exactly what MST3K is all about. The short itself is great goofy fun and the riffing is top-notch. The movie keeps the momentum going with a watchable and actually kind of creepy little story, with plenty of flaws for the guys to pick at (bad acting, nerdy unlikeable hero; unsympathetic victims, etc., etc.). The host segments also keep things going, and if they’re not hilarious, they at least don’t outstay their welcome.
• Bill’s thoughts are here.
• This episode is included in Shout’s “MST3K: Volume XXXI.”
• Where did they get that standee of Ben Murphy? Bet a fan sent it.
• In his comments, Bill confirmed what many people suspected: that this short had been kicking around BBI for years and was in fact the inspiration for the “Willie the Waffle” sketch way back in episode 317- VIKING WOMEN VS. THE SEA SERPENT.
• Fave riff in the short: “Guns, huh?”
• Many years ago, I mailed a copy of this short to the Springs Manufacturing Association in hopes they would reply with something funny to say about it, or might even know the history or background of the short. I never heard back.
• Callbacks: “Jeeeeeeed!” (The Leech Woman) “The monster called Gamera is destroying the city.”
• Naughty riff: “Mother! That’s private!” Also: “See? It’s not true that I can’t get wood.”
• That’s Patrick as Mikey and Mike’s Socksey.
• One of the things I noticed this time was the proliferation of Klan jokes. A few are appropriate but I think they may have overdone it.
• Obscure: “…letters from Der Weisse Engel…”
• In segment 3, when Mike says he’s “gotta make a rice a verms” he’s mocking the famous Bela Lugosi line from “Bride of the Monster” in which he talks about a “rice a pipple.”
• Also in that segment, notice that somebody was making the little worm wiggle.
• In a discussion of the worst cops, many folks singled out the icky sheriff as the worst or one of the worst. Boy howdy were they right. Wow, what a jerk.
• “Hank Hill’s friend” has a name. It’s Boomhauer. Did they not know or were they afraid people wouldn’t recognize it?
• Yet another credit bit: This time it’s earnestly answering the questions asked in the song.
• Cast and crew roundup: Special effects makeup guy Rick Baker also worked on “The Incredible Melting Man” and “Track of the Moon Beast.” That’s it.
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Kevin. For some reason Jeff Stonehouse was unavailable and someone named Kevin Galligan was the DP for this episode. Similarly, John Sims was not available and somebody named Clayton Hughes was the boom operator. Ed Dykhuizen and Sarah Lemanczyk were back as interns.
• Fave riff: “Lowly Worm’s worst day ever.” Honorable mention: “Kevin McHale, cross-dresser.”

167 Replies to “Episode guide: 1012- Squirm (with short: ‘A Case of Spring Fever’)”

  1. Johnny Ryde says:



  2. Bobby 23-Skidoo says:

    I watched this one along with, for reasons unknown to me, Radar Secret Service yesterday. Both episodes have Billie Joe McAllister references. What are the odds?

    Anyhow, this one is somewhat tough for me to get through, for the aforementioned grossout factor. I don’t know what is about the bug close-ups that does it. I’ll probably have the same feeling when I break out Phase IV.

    The riffing is fine though, and like Sampo, the Lowly Worm riff is my fave.


  3. trickymutha says:

    #50- off topic here- Squirm and IMM are a little gross- but the single grossest scene ever (well, save the baby oil on JDB) is in #513 The Brain that wouldn’t die- when the ugly monster tears the good doctor’s throat out and some icky thing crawls out.

    Or…maybe when the guy eats a heart in Cave Dwellers? Hmm…


  4. I show A CASE OF SPRING FEVER to physics classes when we cover Hooke’s Law and elasticity. The science is correct
    and it’s a reminder to students that “educational” shorts should not be taken too seriously.
    I kinda like SQUIRM part – favorite riff: “He has a body like an unbaked breadstick.”


  5. TrumpyDumpy says:

    ah-this one is among my personal favs collection. me and my buds still make reference to “No Springs” as well as “that’s private” jokes. Can’t forget to scream out “Mr. Beardsly” every chance you get! It’s almost as catchy as “Watch out for snakes” or “Has anyone seen my dog” A classic in my books!


  6. fantagor says:

    This one grew on me, which is preferable to squirming up my leg. The theme music is hauntingly off topic. Shadows were not covered in the movie even once. I want a plethora of worm references in my worm movie’s theme.


    PS NO SQUIRMS! (annoying whistle hit follows)


  7. fireballil says:

    I gave it four instead of three because it was closer to four than three for me. I think that they knew they were close to the end so the Brains decided to go out with a bang after the mediocre eps before this. A lot of you have already given the lines I liked, but here are a few more:

    Crow, describing Alma, Geri’s sister: ‘Kevin McHale, crossdresser.’
    Tom, seeing the house after the worms left: ‘Never ask Tom Arnold to housesit.’
    Mike, describing Geri’s car: ‘The Ford station wagon: unsmall at any speed.’

    Also I can recommend both Cheepnis and Skyroniter for good copies of episodes. Skyroniter’s site provides DVD’s as prizes for contests run over on the MST3K Discussion Board. A lot of you may already post there, but I want to personally invite you to join up. There’s a link on the left side of the page for you.


  8. pablum says:

    The penultimate episode of the saga.

    This was only the second movie on MST3K I saw prior to it being riffed on. The other was Time of the Apes. That didn’t endear it to me any more than had I not.

    An average episode. Nothing amazing, but nothing bad. I would have preferred MST3K to go out with more of a bang than it did, but this’ll do.


  9. Enjoyable little film. Surprised MST3K got it though. I love the ending credits song. My brother never watches this episode, apparently he doesn’t like worms or something. I think he’s lying, but have no idea why.


  10. rcfagnan says:

    The penultimate episode. Not as strong as one might have liked, but not as awful as many seem to think it. This one sits there quietly in the corner wishing you’d watch it but knowing you won’t. I live in the state of Georgia, where this film claims to take place. I have yet to meet any people as repulsive as the southern stereotype as portrayed in movies (with Sherrif Douchebag as my Exhibit A). Maybe I just don’t get out enough…


  11. StumpBeefKnob says:

    Sorry, trickymutha(#20), but after spending 9 miserable days with my hillbilly inlaws in northern Michigan, I have to disagree–there are PLENTY of creepy inbred hicks there!! Granted, none of them were trying to unleash killer worms on my face, but what they WERE doing is creepy enough in itself!(we’ll just leave it at that!)As far as the film goes, I can’t get enough southern-bashing, and the “hero” leaving his girlfriend in the hands of a “creepy inbred hick” is icing on the cake for me!! 4.5 stars!


  12. FastEddie says:

    Pat Pearcy (Geri)should have run a bell with somebody; she was the winsome young thing Richard Dreyfuss was running lines with in his room in Goodbye Girl. Pretty impressive: she went from Squirm to playing opposite Dreyfuss in an Oscar-winning performance in ONE YEAR.


  13. Dr. Batch says:

    I’ve always wondered why this short was made. What’s the point of it? Was there a big anti-spring movement going on that I’ve never heard about?
    Great episode, though. I hope it’s coming to DVD soon.


  14. Chief?McCloud! says:

    @ #10 Um, I had a digital wrist-watch in ’76 with LEDs or diodes or bulbs, not LCD. Point….nowhere near a new concept.


  15. pumafan says:

    Another thing I love about this episode (just finished watching it again) is Mike’s little comments that you can just barely make out, as if he were talking behind his hand;

    “yeah, I’m not surprised he’s got weak ankles.”

    “checking my wrist to see if they’re weak, too; they are.”


  16. John Paradox says:

    So, you’ve seen this episode enough times to know the riffs, and even start to create your own? Well, might I suggest getting the ‘original’ with the writer/director’s commentary. Ever wonder what Ed Wood’s commentaries would sound like? This is probably as close as we’ll ever get.
    I set up the disc with the commentary on, and subtitles (for the ‘missing’ scenes that weren’t in the MST3K version). Also set aside some ‘entertainment enhancers’ (popcorn.. among other things) for the viewing.
    One of the first things that you’ll notice is that the w/d complains about “Mystery Space Science Fiction 2000” (BBI) ‘not getting it’ because the movie is a ‘goof’ (parody? satire? comedy?), and you can’t ‘goof a goof’.
    He mentions the falling high-voltage tower was stolen from Oceans 11, and that there was a lot of ‘stock footage’- surprise, surprise. But really, his ‘ideal cast’ for the movie had Geri played by Kim Basinger(!!), with Martin Sheen as Mick (!?!?!) and Sylvester Stallone as Roger(?!?!?).. even mentioning that Sheen wanted to change Mick’s profession to ‘actor’.
    For those who didn’t find out elsewhere, Mr. Beardley’s house is a famous ‘haunted house’. The actor who played Mama is actually from Texas, which is, after all, a different accent than Georgia (oh, it was shot outside Savannah, BTW) There’s also a short scene that was cut where Sheriff Pink hits on “Mama”.. and the commentary has something like ‘see the crib, and how it’s aligned to look like jail bars..’. There are several times in the commentary where he talks about how ‘great’ the actors are, and some of them really make me think of Ed Wood, like in the EW movie, ‘nobody will notice’ responses to people mentioning ‘bad takes’ with the cheap sets.
    There’s a strange/fun cut from where Mick and Geri invite Roger fishing.. another Antiques Dealer (which seems to be the entire town, except for Willie’s Bait) tries to sell an old Diving Helmet that he claims was used in a John Wayne movie. Some of the other ‘deleted’ scenes add just a touch to the ‘goof’ claim… Mick ‘using the men’s room’, then using some insect spray before meeting Geri.
    Overall, the commentary sounds more like trying to ‘fix the movie after it’s released’, with his explaining what he meant to do, thus the ‘Ed Wood Commentary’ description.
    One of the ‘missing’ scenes involves Geri and Mick trying to find Sheriff Pink, and talking with a cleaning lady. It was an actual cleaning lady, and the dialogue is a sparkling as anything Ed Wood ever wrote (sarcasm). The Scarier Roger scenes (the inital ‘wormface’, and his crawling up the stairway) have been removed, as well as the ‘poison ivy’ scenes (where Mick and Sis are smoking a joint, and she tells him he’s infected, then another where Mick is treating his leg and talking with Geri.. about what I don’t remember). Also, when Mick is in the Dentist’s office, the commentary notes Sis has a joint in her hand!
    Some of the comments are just so self-serving (mentions of Ingmar Bergman, the ‘ideal stars’ above, and various ‘performance is great’ inserts), the commentary becomes a new source for riffing, right up to the end where he once again mentions the MST3K riffing as “Mystery 2000 schtick”.
    As the long irrelevant song (he mentions that the song(s) really have nothing to do with the movie) at the end unspools, he tells us that making the worms ‘active’ was done just like Willie’s… using electricity to stimulate them… which makes Mike’s discovery all the more humorous in the MST3K version. [The commentary says they could ‘electrify’ the worms about 3 times before they died]

    Honestly, this episode I pair with Soultaker (‘teasing’ redheads in both) like I pair Invasion of the Neptune Men with Prince of Space, etc.
    Viewing the MST3K version one night, followed the next by the ‘commented’ version is almost like seeing two different ‘riffed’ versions (have the ‘subtitles’ on for the ‘missing’ scenes, there are some really bad bits of dialogue in them).

    Even setting aside the ‘goofy’ commentary, some of the really bad scenes, and the idea that the original is supposed to be some kind of ‘comedy’, I do still like the movie in both versions… okay, I have a thing for redheads (they have the opposite feelings toward me, however)… but knowing how much the w/d commenter wanted from this movie, it’s still a cheap movie, badly acted and directed, and deserving of the MST3K treatment



  17. Finnias 'Critter' Jones says:

    Cubby @#22 “Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld” … it’s a DC comic.

    You are correct, sir. A brain-fart on my part (#15), as I had actually looked it up on Wikipedia to confirm when it was published. As a comic collector in the early ’80’s I remember seeing it in the stores then, but not being a teenage girl, I never picked it up. I’m guessing the crew of the SOL read whatever junk the Mads sent up.


  18. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    Brandon (#48): “The only incident, in a MST’ed film that’s ever grossed me out, is the moment in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die where the closet monster bites out a chunk of Bill’s neck and then drops it on the floor. THAT moment sickens me.”

    John M .Hanna (#50): “This movie is not that gross. ‘The Incredible Melting Man’ is much grosser.”

    I’m smellin’ a weekend topic! For what it’s worth, my biggest gross-out moment in a MSTed film is the chicken embryos in “The Chicken of Tomorrow.”


  19. MonkeyPatrol:InColor says:

    This is one of my favorite SciFi era episodes. The short is in the top five all-time shorts and the riffing of the movie is consistently hilarious. One of the only SciFi episodes I can watch anytime.


  20. MonkeyPatrol:InColor says:

    As for the writer/director’s claim that “you can’t goof a goof”, you most certainly can when that goof is made with utter incompetence, as was “Squirm”.

    I’m pretty sure “Giant Spider Invasion” was supposed to be semi-satirical as well, but man is it just a lot of poorly-executed pretentious crap.


  21. Pixiesnix says:

    This is a very damp movie. In fact, I would venture to say that this is an even damper movie than Boggy Creek II. It’s also more loathsome, and Boggy Creek II had an outhouse scene! It doesn’t scare me, though.

    All in all, one of their better ones. The short is an instant classic, the riffing of the movie is funny, and the movie itself is weird enough to make it riff-worthy. It’s really difficult to eat Twizzlers for a while afterwards, though.

    I can’t help but wonder if something had happened to the mother to make her all fragile and nervous before the events of the movie even started.

    #25 do you by chance have a link to that?

    BTW, what sort of worms did they use? They sure didn’t look like earthworms.

    Fave riffs:

    “More gray asses!”

    “Rip. Tear. Expose. Horrify Friends.”

    “Jam Handy reminds you to keep your preserves in a convenient location.”

    “And if I see you just one more time…that’ll be three times.”

    “The worms are driving around in matchbox cars.”


  22. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    I just realized I forgot my actual favorite riff from this movie:

    “Left muh shadow. Hope ya don’t mind.”

    I think the funniest part of the movie itself is when Roger hurls the particle board at Mick. It catches the wind, settles down lightly on Mick… and knocks him out. I enjoy Crow pointing out the uselessness of the whole sequence: “And the search for wood ends in complete triumph!”

    Has anyone seen the unedited version? Is there a reason why Mama is so on edge, right from the beginning? It’s like the actress WAY overdid the “make up your character’s history” part of crafting a performance, to the point that the subtext she was adding (whatever it was) completely overwhelmed the text.


  23. This one doesn’t do much for me. The movie’s just too boring, and the riffing isn’t particularly inspired, to my ears.
    As others have noted, the short is great for the first few minutes, and when the short peters out, M&TB kind of do as well.
    That said, even a mediocre MST3K episode is way better than anything else on TV.


  24. I think the mother is that way because of Tennessee Williams.


  25. Mighty Jack says:

    To Finnias ‘Critter’ Jones #15 – I mentioned on my website that Crow was reading a copy of “Amythyst” during a host seg in “the Beast of Yucca Flats”. And they had other comic related skits in the other shows, so it was probably something they had amongst their props. BTW – it was a good comic, drawn by Ernie Colon (who used to do Richie Rich).

    I like this episode. There are many observational quips and ‘additions to the diolog’ type riffs that I felt were real sharp. Oh and I think the phrasing “Hank Hill’s friend” was funnier than if they’d just said Boomhauer, at least the phrasing always cracked me up.


  26. Sean says:

    This is an episode that can only be viewed by not looking directly at it. It gets a little sick sometimes, but then of course, when you consider what they *didn’t* show…


  27. Fart Bargo says:

    To Cubby, Critter and MJ

    They are GRAPHIC NOVELS, not comic books! Turn in your nerd membership immediately!


  28. Sitting Duck says:

    If you want to be uber-pretentious, call them sequential art.


  29. Sitting Duck says:

    Andrew Borntreger of BadMovies.Org reviewed this one.


  30. Oooo, I really like #76’s comment — this episode is like the sun.

    The short is wonderful, right up with all the classic shorts, the movie riffing is top notch, the only problem is the movie itself is somewhat gross to many people (myself included) and thus tends to invoke bad connotations.

    Since my wife and I nearly always watch MST3K while we’re eating we try and avoid these kinds of episodes, so I can’t say it’s my favorite despite all the above. But I’m glad they did it.


  31. Howard says:

    I liked this episode more 10 years ago than I do today. It’s actually a decent film, IMHO, with pretty fair acting all around. If a lot of the characters are stereotypes, that’s just par for the course for a cheap horror film. Roger and Willie are perfect specimens. Love these films shot on location!


  32. Steve Vil says:

    No one ever seems to mention this: RA Dow is actually Tony Dow from Leave It To Beaver.


  33. Howard says:

    #82 Steve Vil says: “No one ever seems to mention this: RA Dow is actually Tony Dow from Leave It To Beaver.”

    Really? I’m too young (at 44) to have seen much LITB so I wouldn’t know this. The ever-lovin’ IMDb gives different birth dates for Tony Dow and R.A. Dow (R.A. is about 4 years older, making him 35 when Squirm was made!) but that doesn’t necessarily disprove your point. The crazy mama in the film was also some sort of once-famous actress.


  34. casimar says:

    The movie was excruciatingly nasty (“SQUIRM” indeed) but I loved the short, especially since it was clearly the basis of the “No More Waffles” skit from way back. I only wish it really had been waffles…


  35. JJK says:

    No one ever seems to mention this: RA Dow is actually Tony Dow from Leave It To Beaver. The reason is it isn’t him. Tony Dow continued to act until well into the 1990’s and the guy in the movie doesn’t even vaguely look like him.


  36. Tarantulas says:

    The Ben Murphy standee was made at BBI on Jim’s “new toy” (a plotter printer).

    Same thing goes with all the posters you see in the hallways and the Mike and the bots cutouts from Hobgoblins.


  37. John Paradox says:

    Iggy Pop’s Brother Steve Pop says:

    Has anyone seen the unedited version? Is there a reason why Mama is so on edge, right from the beginning?

    No, there’s never really any explanation, though we don’t know how long she’s been widowed. The commentary kind of glosses it over.

    Pixiesnix says:

    BTW, what sort of worms did they use? They sure didn’t look like earthworms.

    I don’t recall offhand, but the commentary does have a mention what type of worms they were, and they’re apparently native to the area.. I’ll have to cue up the DVD and check.



  38. Manny Sanguillen says:

    Love the episode, but they went too easy on southerners.


  39. Dr. Batch says:

    It’s not Tony Dow.


  40. It’s not Merritt Stone.


  41. DaWurmFace says:

    I love this episode as my name implies. I do think my favorite bits are mocking the wurm face guy and making fun of the weak “hero”. “This is about as bad as the time that butterfly struck me!”


  42. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    It’s not a pipe.


  43. MiqelDotCom says:

    3 stars, maybe 2.5
    This one is just ok for me, but not great & not as strong as I would expect for the final few episodes. I do remember the sense of revelation when i first saw “Spring Fever” and remembered the Willy Waffle sketch from the Joel era.
    Fave riff is at the end “Left my shadow, hope you don’t mind”
    & the song response riff
    ‘.. how can i ever hold you long enough?’
    Servo: “time yourself with a stopwatch”

    It’s hard to believe we’re already to Diabolik next week. Time really flies!


  44. Warren says:

    I saw some of this when I was very young (early ’80s) on a late night creature-feature show hosted by Sammy Terry on wttv-4 in Indiana. I think it was the boat scene where a worm bit someone. It was quite creepy to young eyes. Now the movie is not scary but still icky. I give it 3 stars since I don’t watch it often but it’s still enjoyable. I also wish to say that I’m sure glad we have COILED SPRINGS. Wouldn’t want to screw that up!


  45. Matty-O says:

    Thanks for the link to the KTMA Season Zero DVDs!!!


  46. Barth Gimble says:

    I remember seeing this movie as a kid at the drive-in theater when it was a new release. The shower scene with the worms coming out of the showerhead always stayed with me, even though I forgot most of the rest until the MST version aired.

    And yes, thanks for the link! Cheepnis at Cheesyflix dotcom is the best!


  47. Luther Strickland says:

    This movie always makes me think of “NEW york.”

    The fifties golf scenes in the short are too funny.


  48. Many Sanguillen says:

    Yeah agree, one of the best riffs was “Left my shadow, hope you don’t mind”.
    I also always think of “NOOO York” and “ZOOO-Prise”.

    I also like when Mick angrily sticks a shovel into the worm filled, already dead old man, to which Servo riffs “Stop having worms in your body, you idiot!!”

    There are a lot of good riffs in Squirm and Coily that find their way back into my head, out of the blue, as commentary for real-life situations.

    I watched the hell out of this when I taped it from the first broadcast, so it took me a long time to be able to go back, but I saw the episiode a couple months ago and it was very funny again.

    The Mike Socksy thing is hilarious. Patrick: “Wait! Does Mike’s bed exist if theres no Mike? You better do an easier one!”

    Coily is classic with great riffing & Squirm is a funny, well riffed movie. I give it a 5.

    Who’s EE-EE-ing?


  49. Flying Saucers Over Oz says:

    Re: ‘Spring Fever.’ As somebody’s probably already mentioned, the long part where the guy just keeps babbling about springs to his golf buddies is the reason, I believe, they didn’t use the short earlier. Finally, I guess they decided they just had to unleash this thing upon the world, endless pro-spring pontificating and all.

    I remember reading that STARLOG article about ‘Squirm!’ At the time, I must’ve been about ten or eleven and I thought it sounded really cool. Thank God I didn’t actually have many opportunities to go to the movies back then…

    As for the director’s “You can’t goof a goof!” comments… Anyone else hearing Pee-Wee Herman’s “I meant to do that!”?


  50. Don’t eat the Gorditas…Unghhh…


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