Wednesday, December 08, 2010


The Worm Eaters
    Schlockmeister Ted V. Mikels (The Corpse Grinders) produced this dreadful gross-out comedy featuring lots of bad actors consuming live worms onscreen. After the bouncy title rendition of "Nobody likes me/Everybody hates me/Guess I'll go eat worms," the viewer meets Herman Umgar (Herb Robins, who directed and scripted from Nancy Kapner's story), a worm-breeder with a club foot and a German accent. Umgar sneaks a worm-filled cake into a little girl's birthday party, causing the grossed-out guests to run around in sped-up comic style. Umgar's father was killed by his partner, the mayor's father, in 1939, but Umgar actually owns half the town and the mayor is determined to have the worm-breeder committed and take the town for himself. The first worm is eaten in a plate of spaghetti by a woman named Heidi, who turns into a half-worm mutant from the waist down for no apparent reason. Soon, Umgar has several mutants in a wire pen, gobbling like turkeys. The local lake turns red, and then three fishermen show up in Umgar's bedroom, explaining that they are part-worm and "live in peace under the red tide." They came to find mutant worm-women, and Umgar promises to make mates for them while attempting to maintain his land claim. By the time Umgar is force-fed a whole mouthful of worms and the mutants lead an attack on the mayor, the joke has worn off. – AllMovie Guide
    14% want to see it

    PG, 1 hr. 34 min.

    Director: Herb Robins

    December 5, 2010: Second Sunday of Advent Year A

    Well, okay, it’s got a few good lines (“That’s the sound of worms. I’d know it anywhere.”), a catchy theme song (future film scorer David Newman’s "You'll End Up Eating Worms"), and even a few cult-worthy WTF scenes (Umgar dancing ecstatically through a field of flowers with his favorite worm in his hands). But let’s face it, this is a movie entitled The Worm Eaters, and ultimately your enjoyment of it is going to hinge on whether or not you find entertainment value in watching people eat worms. Worms in cake, worms in ice cream, worms in hot dogs, worms in… well, you get the idea.

    Now, having been born with my fair share of Y chromosomes, I don’t mind a bit of juvenile gross-out humor now and then. In fact, I can watch Monty Python’s vomit filled Mr. Creosote sketch time and time again and find it funnier every single time. But The Worm Eaters, with its endless extreme close ups of wide open mouths stuffed full of wiggling invertebrates just doesn’t do it for me.

    Maybe that’s why, out of all the deep theological stuff in this week’s readings, my simple mind got hung up on the seemingly throwaway fact that John The Baptist liked to chow down on locusts. Why did we even need to know that? Was Matthew just taking a cheap shot and trying to make us gag before moving on to the more serious matters? Probably not. Since the book of Matthew isn’t very much of a side-splitter, it’s more likely that the reference to Mr. The Baptist’s diet was a kind of short hand meant to tell us something about the character of John.

    But what? Well, besides the fact that he had a strong stomach, John’s culinary habits combined with his camel hair wardrobe lets us know he was one of the Nazarites, a sect of Jews whose lifestyle was designed to show they were set apart from others and consecrated to God. In addition to that, a number of the early Church fathers saw John’s choice of locusts as having symbolic meaning. Origen opined that John “was eating locusts because the people were being nourished by a word that traveled high aloft in the air and had not yet passed over the earth.”  St. Peter Chrysologus suggested  that the Baptist’s menu reflected his message of “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” “Locusts intended for sinners worthy of chastisement” he wrote, “are rightly considered to be food for repentance, so that bounding from the place of sin to the place of repentance the sinner may fly to heaven on the wings of forgiveness.”

    Whatever the reason may be, practical or poetic, it’s nice to know the mention of John’s creepy crawly cuisine was more than just a case of Mathew trying to make us wince in disgust. I can’t really say the same for The Worm Eaters.

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