Mystery Science Theater 3000: SQUIRM
April 30, 2018 10:27 PM - Season 10, Episode 12 - Subscribe

"This was the night of the CRAWLING TERROR!" I have one more useful science factoid to teach you: if you run an electrical current through an earthworm, it'll become an aggressive monster and crave human flesh! But only while the current is running. This movie helpfully shows us the lethal consequences of downed power lines, which result in the depopulation of a small town. But it's a Georgia town, so, no worries. With the short A Case of Spring Fever: A film that warns us, for the sake of all mankind, to guard our tongues! Say no careless words in wishing for the absence of any petty thing that annoys you, for there may be an omnipotent spirit listening, and waiting, willing, even eager, to remove all those things from the universe just to spite you personally. To think of all the things our world has lost, all because some schmuck decided to say aloud he was annoyed with, say, immortality this week. One more film about unpleasant people in the South. Notable for containing the phrase, "You gonna be da worm face now!" The episode contains MST3K's last short, and it's one of the best. Episode 1012 is available on YouTube. Premiered August 1, 1999. One episode left.

Episode 1012
Satellite News - Mighty Jack's Episode Review (Likes it!) - War of the Colossal Fan Guide (Also likes it!) - TVTropes - Annotated MST3K

Bill Corbett gave his recollections for the penultimate entry in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, here are excerpts:
[on film shorts] These were always some of my favorite bot fodder as an MST fan in the days of yore. I'd always wished we could do more of them while I was on the show. However, a little gem like Spring Fever almost makes up for it. Granted, it devolves into a painful few last minutes of our amphibious protagonist simply yakking non-stop about the virtues of springs. But that is all worth it for our time with the small but great god Coily, defender of springs.
A bit of MSTory: This short was considered a bunch of times for the show, going way back. Those of you who've been watching the show for a while may remember show 317- Viking Women and The Sea Serpent, with its many waffle-based sketches. Segment 4 of that show was actually based on A Case Of Spring Fever: Servo ponders whether the world might not be a better place without waffles, and Crow as a waffle sprite of sorts shows him just how wrong he is. The short itself was never used, but it did inspire this waffle-y version.
Patrick Brantseg, who is far too modest about his considerable performing ability, was quite brilliant as the voice of Coily/Mikey, and kept us way entertained with it all week. Then we had to tell him to stop.
This is is my last bit of website fun. I want to thank you all for watching the show and supporting MST3K all these years. I was a very, very lucky man to have such a great job for a while. Sending out my best wishes to you all, and to my amazingly cool former comrades at Best Brains. And and the years roll by, my fellow sojourners, if you remember nothing else, I urge you to ponder this question posed by Buckingham: "Won't you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff?"
Won't you, won't you?
Short "A Case of Spring Fever"
Unriffed video from the Internet Archive
Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt
IMDB (1940, 2.7 stars)
"An animated pixie named Coily grants a man his wish that all springs disappear...a wish that he soon regrets."
Produced by the Jam Handy Organization. Starring Pinto Colvig and Edward J. Nugent.

Movie "Squirm"
Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt
Rotten Tomatoes (Critics 36%, Viewers 25%) - Wikipedia - TVTropes
IMDB (1976, 4.6 stars -- pretty high by MST standards)
"A storm causes some power lines to break and touch the ground, drawing millions of man-eating worms out of the earth, and into town where they quickly start munching on the locals."
Directed and written by Jeff Lieberman. Starring Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcy and R.A. Dow.

This episode contains what is, as of this writing, the last short MST did (Season 11 contains no shorts), and as Bill Corbett said, it was one that the Brains had known about for years, even devoting a whole host segment to it back in Season Three. They finally got to air it, and it's one of the great classic shorts, one of those things that's an excellent jumping-on point to both the show and riffing in general. Rifftrax has done it too, and the results are just as great!

Even The Kentucky Fried Movie took a pass at the material of this short; their segment Zinc Oxide and You shows us a world without that chemical, although without a cartoon mascot.

For the movie, it's another one set in the South, in Georgia in fact, my home state. Is rural Georgia as bad as depicted in this movie? Not to mince words: yes. Yes it is.

Mighty Jack reports that the director is aware of the MST treatment of his film, and has said "You can't goof on something that's already a goof." Is Squirm, in fact, a parody? This is something to consider during the MST Club showing.
posted by JHarris (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wish sprite
Diminutive Fey (Incorporeal)
Hit Dice: 20d6+120 (190 hp)
Initiative: +10
Speed: 30 ft.
Armor Class: 24 (+4 size, +4 Dex, +6 natural), touch 18, flat-footed 20
Base Attack/Grapple: +10/-2
Attack: incorporeal touch +12 (1d12)
Space/Reach: 1 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 10/cold iron, fey traits, greater invisibility, low-light vision, manifestation, see invisibility, spell resistance 25, sprite wish, thematic polymorph
Saves: Fort +18, Ref +25, Will +28
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 22, Con 21, Int 20, Wis 24, Cha 18
Skills: Acrobatics +12, Athletics +10, Diplomacy +10, Knowledge (nature) +8, Perception +10, Stealth +12, Search +10
Feats: Alertness, Endurance, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Track
Environment: Any land and underground
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 13
Treasure: No coins; 50% goods; 50% items
Alignment: Always chaotic neutral
Advancement: 21-30 HD (Diminutive)

Patient and mischievous, wish sprites lurk on the Ethereal Plane, waiting for mortals to casually utter ill-considered wishes. When this happens, and when the wish sprite perceives some fun to be had at the mortal's expense, he waits until the wisher is alone, then appears and grants the wish, heedless of any protestations on the mortal's part. The wish sprite will then continue to stalk the wisher, appearing occasionally (mainly when the wisher is confronted with undesirable consequences of the wish) to issue taunting reminders of what the mortal claimed to want. Single-minded to a fault, wish sprites can't easily relate to mortal motivations, and like many fey, they are exceedingly judgmental. Nevertheless, a wish sprite will occasionally assist a mortal, but usually for reasons of its own—such as creating opportunities to use its Sprite Wish ability. Though not quite evil, wish sprites are universally uncaring and mercurial, and are often opposed by good fey (including other sprites, who dismiss wish sprites as not "truly" sprites).

For reasons known only to them, wish sprites rarely spend time lurking amid Material Plane urban centers, preferring wild settings with a mystical undertone, such as dark forests, misty bogs, or rocky promontories. They sometimes approach thinly-populated areas, like small villages, during equinoctial nights or full moons. Wish sprites can very rarely be found on the Plane of Faerie.

In their natural forms, wish sprites look like smaller, wingless pixies with unattractive, vaguely gnomelike faces. They stand ten inches high and have slender, gangly humanoid bodies. Wish sprites speak Common and Sylvan.

A wish sprite avoids direct confrontation and flees to the Ethereal Plane if seriously threatened. Otherwise, they favor indirect fights—zipping around their attacker via haste, telekinetically placing tripping hazards in an attacker's path, and so on. Wish sprites prefer that their Sprite Wish targets do not die too quickly, and have even been known to intercede when wishers attempt suicide.

Greater Invisibility (Su)
A wish sprite remains invisible even when it attacks. This ability is constant, but the wish sprite can suppress or resume it as a free action.

Manifestation (Su)
This ability functions like the ghost ability.

See Invisibility (Sp):
A wish sprite produces an effect like that of a see invisibility spell (caster level 20th), except that is always active.

Spell-Like Abilities
At will— dancing lights, fog cloud (DC 24), mage armor, prestidigitation; 3/day— dispel magic, haste, protection from law, speak with animals, speak with plants, telekinesis. Caster level 20th.

Sprite Wish (Su)
Once per month, a wish sprite can fulfill a wish (as the spell) for a mortal humanoid. The sprite can use this ability to grant a mortal whatever desire he or she utters—but wish sprites always choose to fulfill wishes that carry unintended, and usually negative, consequences. In practice, wish sprites often wait years or decades between granting wishes, because their entire purpose lies in stalking the wisher, watching the consequences unfold, and gloating. (For this reason, it's rare for a wish sprite to be actively stalking two or more wish-victims at a time.) They like to single out victims who utter their wishes when alone, but will often delay appearing to a wisher until well after a wish is spoken in mixed company; under no circumstances will a wish sprite initially reveal itself to others in addition to the wisher (the better to promote discord). Wish sprites are usually circumspect enough not to grant wishes that might widely broadcast their involvement (e.g. "If I could, I'd turn every elf in the world would turn into a frog!") or attract the attention of entities of cosmic levels of power.

A sufficiently persuasive wisher can convince (but can never coerce) a wish sprite into reversing the effects of the wish, but such reversals must wait until at least a month after the initial wish was granted. If the affected mortal kills (or otherwise arranges the killing of) the wish sprite before a year and a day have passed, and if the wish sprite is aware of the wisher's role in his demise, the wish is reversed. After a year and a day, the wish can only be reversed by persuading the sprite (who is likely to be even less agreeable than normal if the mortal has tried to kill him) or, if the sprite is deceased, by casting a risky wish spell or a powerful miracle spell aimed at a well-chosen deity.

Thematic Polymorph (Su)
A wish sprite manifesting on the Material Plane takes on a humanoid form resembling (but never identical to) a Diminutive version of a creature or object connected with the wish to which the sprite is responding. For example, a mortal wishing for a thousand gold pieces would be confronted by a talking, ambulatory pile of gold coins. The form grants no bonuses or penalties to the wish sprite; if it is a bird form, for example, the sprite cannot fly. The sprite cannot suppress this ability, and the form persists either until the wisher dies, the wish sprite is killed, or the wish is reversed. Like all fey, a slain wish sprite disappears from where he fell, but polymorphed wish sprites revert to their natural forms as they vanish.

…This may be the dorkiest thing I have ever done
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:24 AM on May 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

This is one of the few MST3k movies that, once I saw the episode, I could suddenly recall watching the original movie as a kid on television. The image that I remembered was the house six feet deep in worms. In my memory, it was a very visceral scene of all those worms and what horror lie if a person were to fall into them. But seeing it as an adult, it sure seemed like a crapload of rubber bands with a machine underneath them making them jump.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:20 AM on May 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I had the same experience last year when my girlfriend was showing me this from her MST3k collection. Her reaction to "Hey, I think I've seen this" was one of amazement. Or disgust. One of the two.
posted by AndrewStephens at 7:52 AM on May 1, 2018

CheesesOfBrazil has done us all a tremendous service in writing up a 3E Wish Sprite, the least I can do is translate to D&D Fifth Edition, in the process reducing stats and generally redesigning the monster to reflect stuff like Bounded Accuracy and other game design crap.

Wish Sprite
Tiny fey, chaotic neutral
AC 12
HP 5 (2d4)
Speed 0, fly 0 (hover)
STR 3 (-4) DEX 14 (+2) CON 10 (+0) INT 12 (+1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Perception +6
Senses passive Perception 16
Languages Common, Elvish
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)

Sprite Wish. Upon detecting a mortal within earshot making an unwise wish involving its domain powers, it immediately appears nearby and, after a taunt, grants that wish. It can undo the effect of that wish at any time, but it can only grant wishes involving its specific, highly limited, domain. The wish sprite may be able to affect their domain in ways other than that wished by a mortal, but if it can it rarely does so.

Greater Invisibility. The wish sprite can turn invisible and remain so, regardless of its actions, until it decides to become visible. Anything the wish sprite is carrying also becomes invisible. The only limitation on this is that it must be visible when performing its Sprite Wish ability.

Teleport. This special reaction can be taken at any time during a round, either on the wish sprite's turn or not. The wish sprite can appear at any location within 60 feet, whether seen, known or not. It can do this whether invisible or not. If it's visible, it may appear in a manner in accordance with its domain, or it may just appear in a puff of smoke. If it is invisible, there is no indication that it has teleported. It can teleport into the air as easily as on the ground, hovering there indefinitely. Most wish sprites use this to keep themselves well out of danger.

Like tiny gods, every wish sprite has absolute control over one domain of reality, although all of them are extremely specific and minor. Examples: Knobby, the Door Sprite; Squeaky, the Mouse Sprite; Crappy, the Chamber Pot Sprite.

Note, the name is very important. All wish sprites have a name and physical form befitting their domain. It is theorized that there are an infinite number of wish sprites, but those without a good name and/or physical form are too embarrassed to appear, and never differentiate themselves from the ambient magical probability field. Even those that do appear are localized into one location in the world. Although they have excellent hearing, they are still limited to physical proximity. They usually lurk, invisible and patient, in one place, waiting for their big moment.

Possessed of an incredible insecurity and need to prove their superiority over mortals, a wish sprite loves nothing more than to demonstrate some poor creature's foolishness for making careless oaths. It waits, usually in rural or natural settings, and uses its prodigious Perception (effectively amounting to expertise) to listen in on mortals. Wish sprites are loathe to appear to more than one creature at a time; their attentions are reserved to solitary humanoids talking to themselves.

Eventually, a mortal makes a careless statement about something in the wish sprite's domain within its hearing. It them appears, makes a show of being irate (it is secretly delighted but would never admit it), then fulfills the express statement of the oath. Wish sprites do not twist wishes; although they are extremely literal, they always fulfill the exact wording of the wish as would be understood by a normal person. They rely on the foolish intent of the wish instead of seeking to interpret it in a adverse way. They also don't rely on the word wish, although it gives them all a fierce joy, in their secret hearts, to hear it. A mortal could say "I hope I never see another dinner plate!" and China, the Plate Sprite could show up. It's also possible for a wish sprite to show up for wishes made that don't involve removing all of their domain subject from the universe, although those are much rarer.

Once a wish sprite hears an oath, they will appear to some trademark sound effect and, speaking in a corny accent that may or may not actually be their own (they are all theatrical and demonstrative), grant the ill-considered request of their victim. They will then follow along, invisibly, taunting their target, as the consequences of their wish become known. When they're feeling particularly smug, they will break invisibility to appear to deliver their taunt, giving a little chuckle before disappearing again.

It is important to note that in nearly every case, and regardless of what the wish sprite says, these results are practically always temporary. While it's unknown if a wish sprite could consciously remove all of their domain subject from the world forever, to do so would be to be powerless to do anything except return their domain objects to the world. Their continued absence would deprive them of their only status. It is theorized that wish sprites have other broad powers related to their domains, but they are rarely seen.

The best way to undo the effects of a wish sprite wish is to admit that one was wrong for making the wish, which will usually cause the wish sprite to issue a stern admonishment then reverse the wish. A wish sprites' actions, if too far-reaching, could attract the ire of more powerful fey, and they are all pretty low in the hierarchy. A mortal cannot admit one's fault too early though, for the wish sprite desires that the mortal suffer a bit. If one isn't truly inconvenienced, it's best to at least fake it, and in so doing gratify the sprite, in order to get it over with all the faster.

Wish sprites are actually pretty fragile, and although they can teleport in an instant, they cannot actually move in any other way, either on the ground or in the air (they have a movement of 0 for all modes). They rely on their teleport to move around, almost as if they were a piece of badly-composited spot animation. While they almost always have a teleport escape set in case of danger, it is possible for a creature to give one a good, sudden smack, like swatting a fly. If the wish sprite still has an extant wish in effect, however, this is actually an extremely dangerous thing to do, for this is basically the only way for a wish effect to remain indefinitely. In that happens, usually only divine intervention, or a full Wish spell, can restore the universe to normal.

They are usually not invited to either the Seelie and Unseelie Courts because of their unique and limited obsessions, which other fey consider to be petty and beneath them.
posted by JHarris at 10:36 AM on May 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


This week is the next-to-last tour meeting of MST Club (at, so instead of a first episode, we're going to be showing MST rarities! There's a lot of those, so the early bits will be lasting for quite some time. It's basically a mini-marathon! Come by any time you can. We're starting around 2 PM Eastern time, but will replay everything after the episode at 9 PM Eastern. As always, drop by if you can, when you can, if you like. Among the material to be shown:

MST3K Extended Scrapbook (2h01m)
KTMA Scrapbook (23m)
Out Of Control episode guest-starring Joel Hodgson (25m)
Poopie Parade of Values (17m)
Another Blooper Reel (31m)
The Adventures of Edward the Less (about 55m)
Little Gold Statue Preview Special (23m)
Academy of Robots' Choice Awards Preview Special (23m)
1st Annual Summer Blockbuster Review (23m)
2nd Annual Summer Blockbuster Review (22m)
Playstation Underground Promo (10m)
Assignment: Venezuela (24m)

9 PM: 1012 SQUIRM
posted by JHarris at 7:02 PM on May 2, 2018

"Now you're gonna be the worm-face!" is one of the completely nonsensical phrases that has entered my pseudo-Tourette's lexicon and which I then often have to explain to people afterward.
posted by Scattercat at 8:58 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have not seen this episode, but I wandered in here somehow and I'm delighted to see some spontaneous DnD monster manual creation going on across 2 editions.
posted by GoblinHoney at 4:01 PM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ack, I forgot the replay-everything-after-the-episode bit. Well how about this. I'm going to put the rarities back in over the coming week. Anyone who wants to see some crazy, obscure MST ephemera, just drop by at any time this week. There's particularly a lot of KTMA stuff in the Scrapbook video!
posted by JHarris at 9:36 AM on May 4, 2018

This was the first episode of MST3K I ever saw. To this day my brother and I will occasionally reference Mr. Beardsley, and our incapability of realizing that he's not at home.
posted by JDHarper at 10:59 AM on May 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

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