If a tape titled DO NOT LISTEN lands before your feet, the only reasonable response is to blast it as loud as possible. The chances of a meaty, toothy deathworm slithering out of the tape are low, but ‘EARWORM’ takes that low probability and creates 90 seconds of pure chaos from it.
Created by Brian M. Ferguson, the short was commissioned by Adult Swim for their long-running show ‘Off the Air.’ In addition to screening at Panic Fest this year, the short was included in the season 12 episode ‘BUGS.’
The anthology TV series, created by Dave Hughes, premiered at 4am New Year’s Day 2011. Hughes had previously worked at MTV Animation, whose vestiges can be found in ‘Off the Air’s’ similarly psychedelic and experimental style. Creator Brian M Ferguson wore many hats during production including: writer, editor, production designer, sound designer, and director. The Scottish filmmaker has also directed music videos for eclectic artists Alice Glass, Ladytron, and Sega Bodega.
Not your average music video, it qualifies solely on the basis that it 1.) features music; and 2.) is shot like a music video. Every scene is a zoom or a close-up, making everything seem gargantuan. The whole spectrum of color covers every second, and only explodes bigger and brighter in the second half. Baby blue suits; bright yellow wrappers; pink furniture. Eating a ‘Pink Belly’ burger, a character in an eyepatch places the aforementioned tape in a stereo. Everything about these two characters is huge; from their faces in the camera to their stylish, crazed hair. Wallpaper ripped from the 60s lines the walls, and from the tape emerges a worm. The literal earworm is a meaty, abject little fella. The music from which the slithering flesh escapes from is by Accotica. The two men are (almost literally) blown away.
Suddenly, an explosion of red as the screen is bathed in a neon glow. Tossing the tape outside, it quickly finds it’s next unsuspecting victim. She too is consumed by the same red glow and we melt into our ending. All in under two minutes.
It is an eccentric, rapid-fire ride. Everything is bizarre and bold; and over before you could even ask yourself what just happened.
Panic Fest 2023: ‘EARWORM’ is the Weirdest 90 Second Music Video