Flippin' Through Franchises: Tremors

You know, I can’t believe they haven’t tried to reboot the Tremors franchise yet. I haven’t even heard them talk about it in passing. There are clearly fans as they made four movies and a TV show and people definitely know the name. I’m not saying I want a reboot, I’m just blown away that we haven’t had one thrust upon us yet. Perhaps this is the one occasion where they realize there is no point as the original is still really damn good.

Or I should have just looked into this more and saw that this is happening -http://sciencefiction.com/2014/08/02/michael-gross-set-return-tremors-5/. A reboot that is also being counted as a sequel? God damn it Tremors, you got your shit together don’t you?

We all love Kevin Bacon right? It’s a universal understanding that he is fantastic all the time in everything he does? Yes The Following is pretty terrible but the man is still good on it and he only has so much power over the mediocre work he is sometimes provided with. Many people may only know him as the guy who you connect other actors to but I feel Bacon belongs firmly alongside actors like Michael Keaton as one of Hollywood’s most underrated talents. He can do comedy, drama, horror, dance, anything you throw at him. Plus he seems to be one of the few actors who is more than willing to discuss his horror movie beginnings, though it probably helps that his is Friday the 13th and not some random nonsense like Cutting Class or Return to Horror High.

I was a big, big Tremors fan growing up as it made the cable rotation quite frequently and I would almost always check it out, not to mention a VHS tape that would make its way into the VCR on many occasions to boot. It’s a movie that even though I haven’t seen it in years, it’s perfectly engrained in my memory almost beat for beat. So there was no doubt when popping the blu ray in that I was going to enjoy this one and sure enough yes, Tremorsis still a very fun and highly entertaining B movie that I still feel doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves.

Also out of habit I keep calling the monsters Tremors which is almost as bad as calling the monster Frankenstein. I have to get that shit straight.

Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are Valentine and Earl, two guys working as handymen in the insanely small town of Perfection, population 14 if the sign is to be believed. They are surrounded by a wealth of recognizable faces such as Victor Wong (Grandpa from the 3 Ninjas movies), Ariana Richards (the little girl from Jurassic Park), Michael Gross (Family Ties and every other piece of Tremors related media to exist) and Reba McIntire in her acting debut. It’s a good group of actors and they help bring some extra dimensions to characters that for the most part are pretty thinly written. The leads feel a little more fleshed out and a couple of the side characters are easy to root for but for the most part you won’t be too upset when one of the characters bites it. It also has a very tacked on romance that feels completely unnecessary and sudden.

The creatures here, which I thought were called Graboids but I don’t recall anyone actually using that term so perhaps that’s a sequel thing, are fantastic. I’m told they are just a ripoff of the movie Dune but I haven’t seen Dune so whatever, these things are great. It was another reminder of my appreciation for the world of physical effects. I’m guessing the upcoming sequel/reboot will put the focus on CGI, and I think some of the other sequels have already done so, and I already feel it just won’t work as well. Sure having actual puppets means their movement is very limited and kinda stilted looking but whatever, having an actual tangible object there with the actors will always be better in my eyes. Also I’m getting old so I may just have the nostalgia glasses on I don’t know. But I stand by this.

The concept of the creatures being underground is pretty brilliant as not only does it provide a lot of room for creative set pieces, but it’s also a great way to ensure you don’t have to show the creatures a whole lot and you can still have their presence be felt. The movie is generally pretty light hearted but they do get some moments of genuine suspense out of the concept, such as when Val has to stand completely motionless while a creature searches around his legs. They also evolve and start to figure shit out as the movie progresses which makes it interesting as the humans need to get rethinking their strategies as the same method will not work a second time. It’s no surprise they wanted to make more movies with these things as they really do make for fantastic monsters.

Hey let’s get sidetracked for a moment here. Am I the only one who, when watching a movie, pinpoints the exact moment when I would be done for? I think it all started a while back when I was watching the movie Deep Rising and there’s a part where to escape they all have to dive under water and swim through this tunnel or something. At the time I couldn’t really swim so I knew well, that would be it for me I guess. It’s something I can’t help but doing ever since. Here there’s a part where they have to pole vault across a bunch of rocks and I can’t pole vault for shit so had I been there the other characters would have had a very awkward moment where they happily vault along until they look back and see me getting eaten by a huge worm. I wouldn’t have made it past the half hour mark. That’s pretty sad so it would appear I gotta bone up on my pole vaulting skills.

Another reason this movie works is because it moves at such a fast clip. You get a little bit of set up in terms of the characters and locations and even that stuff is interspersed with fun sequences such as a station wagon being grabbed and dragged underneath the ground. Then from the moment the characters discover the creatures, we are off and running and the movie never stops from there. I also liked that the creatures are revealed pretty early. Usually they save that for the money shot in the final sequence but here they make themselves visible almost immediately. Not only that but the whole movie takes place in the day so they can’t rely on darkness to hide the creatures. All of that makes the effects work that much more impressive.

I also really like the tone of this movie. It manages to be silly and fairly light-heartened but at the same it takes the situation and the threat seriously. The characters are fun and do crack jokes but never at the expense of the events occurring. Plus there’s a scene where the dad from Family Ties and Reba Fucking McEntire use a wall full of guns to completely annihilate an underground dwelling worm monster and there are only 2 or 3 movies with a scene like that so you can’t help but enjoy it.

In recent years it seems Kevin Bacon isn’t all that psyched that he was in this movie which is really too bad as it holds up very well and is still a fun B movie that is enjoyable on a competent level and not because it’s so bad it’s good, which is the case with many movies of this ilk. We’ll see how the sequels fare but no matter what I can easily recommend the original.