The Worm Eaters

October 2, 2013 at 2:52 am (8 Heads, Worm Eaters) (, , , , , )

The Worm Eaters – 1977 – United States

German-accented, clubfooted Herman Umgar lives in a wooden tower and coddles his horde of pet worms. Due to various circumstances, people accidentally consume the worms and mutate into human/worm hybrids. To appease a crew of worm-folk fishermen, Umgar must provide them with wormy wives. Another plot thread involves the crooked mayor and his psychotic cronies stealing Umgar’s mud hole to build condos. Ultimately, everyone turns into worms, including Umgar who is smashed by a truck in the finale.

As a kazoo-filled version of “Nobody likes me. / Everybody hates me. / Guess I’ll go eat worms.” plays during the trailer, an enthusiastic announcer exclaims, “Lots of yummy food…with worms!” and “You’ll laugh so hard you’ll gag.” You might imagine The Worm Eaters as a gross-out comedy. That is mostly true, but its wackiness is surreally peculiar and unfunny. The mentally disturbed (and sometimes mentally handicapped) characters include a moronically senile rich family, a loose woman with a comically fake accent and breasts, a pederast priest who is constantly befuddled, a pyromaniac who dons a Klan-like hood to commit crimes, and two all-American girls who expound their love of hot dogs. All the dialogue is muttered or screamed.

Instead of being amusing, Worm Eaters is grotesque. Close-ups of gnashing mouths packed with chewed food and worms are repulsive, and no one eats without spilling all over themselves. In one pointless scene, a man chomps an orange in half, drenching himself in juice. Just as pointless are a pair of old women who wrestle savagely whenever they appear. And then there is the alluded rape of human women by the worm-folk…

Ted V. Mikels produced Worm Eaters, but the real mastermind is writer/director Herb Robins, who also plays Umgar with such zeal that he is probably not acting. Under his unclear supervision, Worm Eaters is a bewildering and alarming mess that can never be duplicated. Call it visionary if you would like.

Rating: 8/10 Shrunken Heads. Live worms are eaten with gusto.

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