Another one right in the childhood, I remember starting high school as this one came out. I understand the 5th one just got released on Netflix this month. I vividly remember getting this on VHS and watching it ad nauseum with my grandfather. So going into this, I will say yes – I still like it.
The question is does it hold up and will you?
Rule of Three starts this one off, with a story by S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, and Ron Underwood. The screenplay is by Wilson and Maddock. Underwood also directs. What this tells me is that most likely Wilson and Maddock wrote the story and screenplay, sold it to the studio and that Underwood made enough changes during production to get a screenplay credit.
This isn’t a hard jump of logic as Wilson was also the writer on the abomination that is Ghost Dad, and the remaining Tremors films (and short lived TV series) up to part four. When you look at IMDB you see that Maddock has almost the same credits down the line. Now it’s entirely possible these two really just collaborate well, or one of the two names is secretly an Alan Smithee. Underwood still works s a director on TV on such shows as Once Upon a Time, Grey’s Anatomy, Agent’s of Shield. Tremors was his first theatrical film, following quickly with City Slickers and dying a horrific death at the hands of Pluto Nash; sending him back to TV for the past decade.
Taking the nostalgia glasses off, our story bases itself around the small town of Perfection Nevada, population 14. Our heroes are Earl (Fred Ward) and Valentine (Kevin Bacon) two local handymen and roustabouts who in their attempt to escape the small town and start a life elsewhere begin to find people on the outskirts of town dead. They quickly learn that subterranean creatures have been attacking and now it turns into a game of survive or die. ‘
It’s a basic creature feature premise, but there’s a lot of factors that make it work. You have interesting small town caricatures, two charismatic heroes, a good location, and a good creature design. The banter seems real, the chemistry between the cast genuine, the comedy beats sell. Every aspect of this movie works when you consider it as an homage to the 50’s and 60’s B-Monster movies. It really lives and breathes like one of these classic (not necessarily good) films. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward have all the charisma to make this movie work as well.
From a technical standpoint, there are some interesting tricks of the camera that are used to give you monster POV at times which adds to the tension. There is some level of genius on the control to not continually show the monster but to rather give you the impression of their passing. Something I think if this incarnation were made today wouldn’t be done. There’s also, as I have stated numerous times, practical effects. The creatures are 100%practical and puppeteer driven. I can’t find a single computer generated effect, though there is some green screen.
Tremors is a thing of beauty. It is a wonderful horror/comedy creature feature. Nostalgia glasses are off as I write this, but really I find that the movie holds up really well twenty five years later. A large portion of that is due to Bacon, Ward, and the practical effects. It’s a tight story, not particularly scary, that has little to no fat or extraneous scenes.
I really like Tremors and if you haven’t watched it, I recommend it. Even folks who don’t do horror could watch this one.