So often we refer to any movie with a little bit of goop and a fair amount of degeneracy to be reminiscent of John Waters, and we do so with mixed accuracy. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else, and it’s a shame because so few movies really do capture the energy that Waters wielded in pursuing his stated goal of cinematic anarchy. That said, it’s always a good thing to keep Waters in the general conversation, because if anyone deserves immortality, it’s the only man to successfully pull off a pencil mustache.
With that said, there are some movies that really do follow in the footsteps of Waters while also blazing a trail of their own, and All Jacked Up and Full of Worms is undoubtedly one of them. Gross, mostly nonsensical in a plot sense, and shot/performed by legitimate, card carrying weirdos, it’s the type of film that defies description or analysis — the type of film that you’re either on board with or totally confused by (both parties will likely find it equally repulsive, so it’s really just a matter of taste).
The main plot thread here are the worms themselves. In this world, the consumption of earthworms, either orally, nasally, or by direct insertion into a wound, gets you crazy high. Balls-tripping, conversing with The Worm King high. And we spend 72 brightly colored, aggro-as-fuck minutes following a group of degenerates as they seek out and consume said worms.
There’s a man who desperately wants to be a father, and who is trying to bring his infant sex-doll to life (you read that correctly). There’s a trio of psychonauts who are chasing enlightenment via worms, sex, and “hippie stuff.” There’s a prostitute and her pimp, neither of whom are trying to get pregnant, dammit! There’s a murderous clown and his playful partner, who want to eat worms and fuck in the trash. And behind it all there’s a guy on a talk show speaking to his experiences with the worms.
And there are worms. Lots of worms.
These pocket stories all revolve around the “getting high on worms” concept, sometimes crossing paths, sometimes not, resulting in a vomit colored, high energy poem of pandemonium. It’s hard to peel one’s eyes away from the events on screen, and it’s smart not to, as writer/director Alex Phillips takes a blink-and-you-miss-it approach to his directorial flair, sneaking grotesque cutaways between, well, grotesque non-cutaways. This is all given extra oomph by a score that ranges from trippy and aggressive to silly and playful, both modes perfectly matching the comedy and madness on display.
All Jacked Up and Full of Worms is the type of demented cinema that caters to a rather specific taste, but there’s something about it that I think could appeal to an audience not actively seeking out something so deeply deranged. It’s oddly welcoming and ultimately rather hypnotic.
It also has Betsey Brown in it, and a rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t miss movies with her in the cast (again, please seek out Assholes, the fucked up, insane comedy that I never miss a chance to plug).
Directed by Alex Phillips
Written by Alex Phillips
Starring Phillip Andre Botello, Sammy Arechar, Betsey Brown, Trevor Dawkins
Not Rated, 72 minutes