Print is a hitman servicing the waning days of the wild, wild West. He accepts a job to kill Heinrich Kley, a German brothel owner who administers his own unique form of socialized medicine to the `soiled doves' of his who become pregnant. However, when Print is also asked to take on a protégé - a young gunman whose head may not be entirely on straight - things are destined to go from bad to worse real quick in the Wild Dogs Production of THE SCARLET WORM.
WORM is, definitely, not for everyone. It's a B-movie western clearly with European influences not seen in stateside release in, quite probably, four decades. There are no current box office draws in the cast, and much of its ramshackle Western sets resemble contemporary theme park settings and/or budget tourist trap destinations located anywhere between Benson and Bisbee. At times, the film seems little more than a bloated community theatre production of a spaghetti western ... but don't be fooled, cinema fans, because that's quite probably the way the makers had intended it all along. Shot on a budget of reportedly $25,000, WORM is as much as exercise in film appreciation as it is the art of modern film-making.
In short, WORM came about thanks to the online friendship of a group of like-minded film junkies. They met in various forums, exchanged information about film likes and dislikes, and they decided that their fandom and their friendship deserved something even greater. So they got together and pooled their resources and efforts into making the kind of film they loved and they wanted to see returned to audiences. The end result is not only a film like THE SCARLET WORM but also a handful of similar second rate features with schlock titles like THE MINSTREL KILLER and APOCRYPHA.
What's easy to appreciate in WORM is that the film is lovingly made as a tribute to the kinds of fast and furious flicks rarely seen any longer in cinemas around the world. Nowadays, these films go direct-to-DVD - if they even find a market at all - or they end up in the cheapie bin at your corner super-shopping-megaplex because they no longer fit the bill for what major studios believe box office releases should look like. Clearly, fifty percent of the production relied on the filmmakers appreciation of what had come before, with the remaining fifty percent being a pervasive "it's only a movie, folks" mentality, a mindset sadly lost in Hollywood's increasingly political boardrooms. It's a motion picture made by people who loves motion pictures. WORM is perfectly happy as a three-star production quite probably intended to be a perfect two-star production, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with embracing that kind of cinematic nobility.
The production quality is acceptable, though I thought there was a high degree of graininess to the picture consistently; this may've been deliberate given the fact that the picture is an `oater' as well as an homage to spaghetti westerns, but, in fairness, I wasn't entirely certain that was the case. Sound quality is acceptable, though I found some narration a bit muddled in the pieces that book-end the picture (watch it, see what I mean, and perhaps you'll agree). The DVD includes two commentary tracks along with a brief behind-the-scenes featurette that more appropriately defines where the Wild Dogs Productions Company came from than it does the film (not a criticism, just an observation). Additionally, the disk includes two trailers for WORM as well as attractions for other like-minded exploitation-style flicks. Subtitles are available in Spanish only.
RECOMMENDED for students of film history or those with an appreciation of various film genres. Serious fans of Westerns in general might find a lot to get jazzed about as well though they may struggle a bit (as I did) with set dressing (I say this after having just come back from a vacation in Tombstone, AZ, so I might be a bit jaded more than the average online film junkie)
In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Unearthed Films provided me with a screener DVD by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.