Tremors, released in 1990, should not be a great film. From start to finish it is pure schlock, but it is the kind of schlock that gains cult status and ultimately transforms it, no matter how good or bad, into a great movie. It is not the type of film that critics generally favour, but it is the type of film that audiences love and really, what is there not to love about this film? It has giant sand worms, a few moments that startle the viewer, light comedy though sadly, there is a distinct lack of nudity which B films like this can usually be counted on to provide but it does have Kevin Bacon which more than makes up for it. Also, as a horror film, it does have some blood here and there to keep everyone happy. For a horror fan, all of this sparks just the right spot in the pleasure center of the brain and Tremors can be counted on to provide you with at least an hour and a half of pure enjoyment.
If it was not already evident from what was said or from the film’s poster, the fright that is generated in this picture comes from deep below the earth. For the first part of the film, it plays upon the fear of the unknown – that fear which is probably stronger than any other for it lets your imagination run loose, often creating something far worse than the reality might be. In this particular case, when the ‘grabbers’ finally emerge, they are fairly gruesome, more so when their mouths are open. The latter half of the film goes for a more visceral feel as we see the Graboids more often and instead of relying on horror, the film tends to go more for suspense than it does scares as the characters are in a race for their lives, trying to outrun the Graboids at every turn.
Surprisingly the special effects, practical ones at that, look great. The Graboids are fearsome, especially those moments when those snake-like appendages shoot out of their mouths looking for their next meal. In contrast, the Nevada Desert looks beautiful in director Ron Underwood’s movie, dry and hot maybe, but stunning and cinematographer Alexander Gruszynski gives viewers not only a sense of beauty of the area, but the isolation as well. It is the barrenness of the land that this tiny community finds itself in that works against them and enhances the horror that the Graboids represent. Being alone can be just as scary as anything else, for when you are in danger, desperation rears its head and it can either make you brave or it can make you give up and to succumb and the latter is something the townspeople are unwilling to do. They want to live and ugly monstrosities or not, they are going to find a way to do so.
Bacon is the star of the film, though Fred Ward manages to get in a couple of lines here and there. Ward and Bacon have a good chemistry onscreen and make a pretty decent team. Reba McEntire was quite humourous as was Michael Gross who played her husband. The story worked well, going for that straight-up monster movie without getting into the how’s or why’s of it. The monsters exist and it is kill or be killed when it comes right down to it. Though the story was written well, the dialogue could have been improved a little as it fell flat in a lot of places. Much of it had to do with the comedy which was simply not as witty as it could have been, but overall, it failed to hamper the film or the good time you had while watching it.
So yes, Tremors may have been a little corny, but it was sensational as well and is a film you could easily watch a dozen times over. The movie would also be followed by four sequels and a television series, all of varying quality, none quite so good as this first film.
First Entry – Trapped in the… – Valley of the Dragons (1961)
Last Year’s Creatures…
Giant Monster Gamera (1965)
The Monolith Monsters (1957)
Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)
Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)
Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Gamera vs. Viras (1968)
The Cyclops (1957)
Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)
Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)
The Killer Shrews (1959)
Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)
The Deadly Mantis (1957)
Space Monster Gamera (1980)
King Dinosaur (1955)
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
The Black Scorpion (1957)
Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)
Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999)
The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
Gamera the Brave (2006)
Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966)