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*** 1/2 out of ****
Tremors is often described by many to be a cult classic, which is odd. The fact is, cult films usually have a quirky quality to them that separate them from the usual Hollywood-churned machine. Take Re-Animator, for example, or even the recent Ravenous, both of which have oddities and bloody quirks that average viewers might find repellant. But Tremors isn't the slightest bit offbeat. It's made in full Hollywood-style with a predictably happy ending to boot. So what makes it a "cult classic"? Could it be that it's successful in mixing almost every genre into the proceedings or that it's great entertainment that simply didn't get the box office reception it deserved? Perhaps both, because this is one movie that always puts a smile on my face and simultaneously gets my pulse-pounding every time I watch it.
The plot is similar to that of the monster films of the old days. Valentine Mckee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) are two handymen "trapped" in the small town of Perfection, Nevada. They have dreams of making it big, but their ambitious goals always seem out of reach. Just when they do decide to finally leave, the discovery of dead bodies, both human and animal, keep them there for just a while longer. There's also the road, which has been blocked by a large boulder.
On hand to study some strange seismic activity is Rhonda (Finn Carter), a grad student who helps Mckee and Bassett come to the realization that both the deaths and the odd vibrations in the ground are connected. It turns out to be the work of giant 30-foot worms, four of them to be exact, and they trap the townspeople of Perfection in their homes, including gun-happy, WWIII-prepared couple Burt and Heather Gummer (Michael Gross and Reba Mcentire). The rest of the film becomes a desperate scramble to outsmart the worms and get out of the town alive.
The first thing that's noticable about Tremors is probably how it's obviously inspired by 50's monster flicks. The great thing, though, is that Tremors plays itself as a comedy, preferring laughs over scares, a wise decision since if the film took itself seriously, it would have been a major detriment. The laughs aren't cheap, either, as they result from witty dialogue and new twists on the "monster" subgenre. The great chemistry between Bacon and Ward brings the most humor to the film. Playing best friends with little education but plenty of smarts, these are two performances that are a hoot to watch. It'd be great to see them in another film together again (too bad it didn't happen in Tremors 2).
But in addition to the laughs, there's also the action, which is frenetic and exciting. Director Ron Underwood gives the film a lightning pace and the 95 minutes seems to just roll by. The fun action consists of a lot of running and "get off the ground" moments. For the last 45 minutes, Tremors is almost full of non-stop excitement, and it's surprising to see that the action never gets tiresome nor dull for a single moment. The movie isn't scary or frightening at all, but with suspense and thrills this sharp, who cares (Besides, being scary is hardly the film's intent.)?
It's nice to see that this movie is not particularly gory or full of gratuitous violence. While I do enjoy gory violence when it fits the style and tone, it wouldn't have been welcome here and the light-hearted feel that permeates Tremors is a crucial reason to its success; there's no unneccessary unpleasantness and it also proves that the movie creates genuine excitement without resorting to splashing blood all over the screen. Because of this, it easily reaches out to a larger amount of viewers, making it a movie that's just as easily accessible for fans of, say, screwball comeides as it is for action lovers. Since the movie is PG-13, there are still a couple of moments of semi-graphic violence, but nothing objectionable to someone 10 years or older.
The special effects are fun, with the worms as the film's showpiece. Thankfully, there's no overdone CGI and the worms are actually well-rendered and convincing. But I must say, I was a little misled, seeing how it is the worms don't actually look like the one on the video box cover (which actually looks cooler). But never mind that, I'm wondering how the director managed to pull off so many scenes of the creatures popping out from underground. I mean, given the fact that this is a goofy monster movie, it couldn't have been given a very big budget. I also love those worm POV shots, particularly the ones that actually feature the camera wading through the dirt.
S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock's script is clever without being particulary intelligent or distinguished. This isn't a brilliant film by a long shot but it goes to show that some writers who just want to write a fun script can actually get the job done. It's a little odd to note that all of Wilson and Maddock's other screenplays (with maybe the exception of Tremors' own sequels) have been pretty bad, culminating to the debacle known as Wild Wild West. Unlike that film and the others they've written, this one isn't soulless.
But it's not the action and the laughs that put this film above so many countless movies of the genre. It is, after all, the characters that make this film as highly entertaining as it is. As said before, Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward's chemistry is natural and they deliver some of their best acting in their careers. It's actually a shame that Ward never reached the same heights of stardom as Bacon; he sure as hell had the charisma and acting skill for it. Also very good is Finn Carter as Rhonda, and it's also a little unfortunate her career hasn't gone far since this. She and Bacon also have some nice chemistry, which further establishes this movie as one that also works partially as a romance (a good feat, considering it's not even striving to be one). The other standouts are Michael Gross and Reba Mcentire as the gun-toting couple. Their performances are a lot of fun and there's a hilarious scene involving the two of them trying to kill one of the giant worms in their basement.
Tremors wasn't much of a box office success but has since gone on to have a strong life on video, to the point where it even inspired other knowingly goofy creature features such as Anaconda, Lake Placid, Deep Blue Sea, and Deep Rising (of these three, only Rising comes to mind as a must see). None of them managed to reach the heights of Tremors, perhaps because their characters weren't as likable and memorable, thus leaving this film as the one all future monster films will be compared to. The film's also got its own sequels, the first of which I remember as being pretty fun but certainly inferior. Tremors 3 I have yet to see, but it's one I'm looking forward to.
This movie caught me by surprise: I worked in a video store, and one day we
got a preview tape of this movie, prior to its video release. I hadn't
much about it, so I watched it, and was quite surprised at how enjoyable it
was. Since then, I have seen the movie about ten more times (at least), and
still get a kick out of it.
Tremors is basically a landlocked variation on 'Jaws' and those 1950s giant bug movies: the isolated town of Perfection, Nevada (population 16), finds itself under seige by four monstrous, subterranean wormlike creatures, that hunt by sensing vibrations in the ground. The plot revolves around the townspeople trying to outwit and escape the creatures (dubbed 'Graboids'), which are tearing the town out from under them.
What really makes the movie work is the characters: all of them come across as real people trapped in an insane situation, and all have a lot of charisma, even though the film doesn't have tons of character development. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are a hoot as a pair of low-rent handymen who become reluctant heroes. The byplay between the two is a lot of fun.
Usually movies like this revolve around stupid people doing stupid things, just to raise the body count. Tremors is different: the characters react believably, and do smart things to try and escape and/or kill the Graboids. The creatures too are also fairly smart, and are not just mindless eating machines with no brains.
Given its premise, Tremors is not a gory or violent film (although it has a couple of minor gross bits), and has a very good sense of humor. The film-makers are aware of their far-fetched premise (a couple of key questions go unanswered), but they treat it with respect and a certain amount of affection.
Tremors didn't have much life in theaters, but has become something of a 'Midnight Movie' on home video, with definite cult possibilities. Check it out, and don't be surprised if you end up buying it.
On paper I would have expected 'Tremors' to suck - a low budget sci fi action comedy written by the 'Short Circuit' guys, and directed by a hack who went on to make 'City Slickers'. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence, does it? But if you put your prejudices aside you'll find that this is a surprisingly enjoyable good old fashioned monster movie. There is humour here, sure, but thankfully the movie doesn't go for a camp, tongue in cheek parody style, something for me that almost never works. The movies real strength is the perfect casting of Kevin Bacon ('Diner') and Fred Ward ('Henry And June') as the small town handymen turned reluctant heroes. They are supported by the left field but inspired casting of 'Family Ties' Michael Gross and country singer Reba McEntire as a couple of gung ho survivalists. 'Tremors' succeeds in what it sets out to be, an exciting and wonderfully entertaining b-grade horror thriller. A lot of fun and highly recommended.
Tremors is a flawless film. The story is original and entertaining. The actors make it all the more fun, especially Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Michael Gross. Tremors is the kind of movie that can't be placed in a certain genre. It's a little bit of everything; horror, comedy, action, adventure, etc. Don't miss this very good movie!
Loved the movie. How could you not? It has two lovably bumbling buddies, Val and Earl, played to perfection by Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward. It has a remarkably funny gun crazed survivalist couple played completely straight-faced by Michael Gross and Reba McEntire. It has a wonderfully batty bunch of "townsfolk," a winsome heroine and bad lot of underground drag racing worms looking to eat the characters mentioned above. The movie stands out from the "trapped and pursued" genre because it contains tongue-in-cheek humor, comedic escapes, inspired foreshadowing of doom and nutty monster mayhem. This is a delightful B monster movie that would best be watched with fellow funny movie buffs, popcorn and beer.
Go figure, but this movie was not exactly successful at the box office, I am guessing it made a lot on video however. It has spawned two sequels and even a television series. This one though was a fun movie to watch thanks in large part to its cast. Kevin Bacon is good as the lead and Fred Ward is also very good. They play a couple of friends living in a very small town in the middle of nowhere. There only wish is to get out of this place and get somewhere big, unfortunately something big is just under their feet. Seems there are these snake creatures living underground and their going on a killing spree. They seemed to have chased an old man up a power line where he died of thirst, then they take out a farmer and his livestock, and then they take out these two working on the side of the road. This movie is rather bloody considering it is a pg-13 movie. The town meets and we are introduced to more colorful characters like the survivalist couple, the stingy grocery owner, and the annoying kid who loves to play a prank or two. There is also a student there studying seismology or something and everyone turns to her for the answers. This movie has a lot of comedy and some great scenes and is an all around enjoyable movie.
"Tremors is a flawless film" wrote another commentator on this site and
he's damn right ! What a movie ! I've missed it in the cinema, because
over here in Europe, this maybe played in Vienna in 2 theaters for one
week and hardly anybody catched it. But some time later, maybe 1992,
1993 it was shown on TV, some midnight cheapie, I thought, but watching
it, it scored bullseye, I was glued to the TV-set.
Have seen it 3 or 4 times since then and it's an amazing joy to see this again and again and again and ...
Why ? First the storyline is simply simple & fantastic & brilliant. The perfect homage to the B-movies (you know, Tarantula et. al.) of the 50ies and 60ies. Even better than they were/are.
Ron Underwood must have seen maybe all these B-flicks, at least most of them, and captured the essential elements of this genre perfectly. There is NOT ONE WRONG SCENE in this, it works, from start to finish, like THE master-thesis for the "giant creatures are trying to kill us"- :-)) genre. If Tarantino would have made this, he would be hailed to the hall of fame for it (where he is anyway, but then again, isn't this one mucho better than Death Proof, e.g.?).
The dialog is extremely casual/leisured/funny, always on the spot. Cleverly photographed, funnily written, without being stupid for just a second.
What makes this so very special is the relationship between these two slackers, Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward. One younger, one slightly older, the chemistry between them is fantastic, the really seem to have spent all their lives together in the backyards of rural America. Their looks, the dialog, their mimic, all unmatched in the last 20, 25 years of US-cinema.
TREMORS was Ron Underwood's first feature and none of his later efforts does come even close to it (actually he made just unmemorable schlock later). But this one picture will get him recognition far beyond his earth-days, I bet ! TREMORS poures love & total respect for the genre from every frame ! I bet Ron Underwood, who was 37 when he directed this masterpiece, must have dreamed of making this movie for a decade or even longer, that's why it is so superbly developed, so perfect, so flawless.
Watch it, love it, watch it again, I bet you will ! :-))
This is a great movie and a fun ride. They went back to the basics and came out with one of my all-time favorite flicks.
There are two ways to make a good monster movie: slow-paced and suspenseful, or fast-paced and surprising. Tremors definitely opts for the latter method. The producers also managed to assemble an excellent cast, all of whom establish their invidual characters with admirable clarity. Only Mindy, the young girl, comes off as kind of a cipher. Plus, with the exception of Kevin Bacon and Michael Gross, they all look like REAL people.
The spotlight gets shared out pretty equally among the cast, as well. One particularly nice touch was the fact that our two main heroes weren't the only people in town who have any competency, at all. Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon DO carry the movie, but it's more because of the great screen chemistry between them. Miguel has the better ideas, and Burt contributes more to the actual destruction of the monsters.
While Tremors never really 'cheats' the audience, i.e. sets up a situation and then doesn't deliver, the movie does vary teasingly from the expected. One of the aspects I enjoy most about showing this film to first-time viewers - aside from the the pride I take in indoctrinating new members to the Cult of the Graboid - is how the movie fools them about things like who gets eaten and who doesn't, and how the worms actually operated.
My one bullsh*t call is the Cat loader. Any operator with any kind of experience could have used the loader bucket to lever the tractor up and out of the pit it fell into, and that impact wouldn't have knocked out the engine. Whether they could have pulled themselves out before the Graboids yanked them off the tractor is less certain (Every time I see the scene of Burt Gummer falling from the loader to the ground, I cringe and think: there's a stuntman with two broken ankles).
I also could have used more Victor Wong and less Reba McEntire. She's just hard to listen to, as an actress. As little as she contributes after Burt and Heather shoot up the Graboid in their basement, they could have fed HER to the monsters and let Walter Chang survive.
Ah, well. YOU try telling a Graboid who it can't eat.
Oh, and I love Val & Earl's truck. I think it's a late-60s Jeep J10 Warrior. Absolutely indestructible.
What we have in this film is the atmosphere of some of the old 50's B movie classics with an 80's touch added,and very well done at that. We have unique and rather intimidating monsters,as well as a very unique cast of characters to battle them.While Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward may be listed as the leads,I think that Michael Gross practically steals the entire show.While it isn't flawless,it certainly is entertaining enough.I would recommend it to any fan of 1950's B horror films.It is well worth the rental and would be a good addition to anyone's library.
18. TREMORS (SCI-fiction, 1990) Welcome to Perfection, Nevada.
Population: a couple. Opportunities: none. That's why handymen Val
(Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) have always planned to leave town.
And this time they mean it. Suddenly a series of bizarre killings
prevent them from leaving. With the help of a seismology student, they
discover giant-worm like creatures living under the desert sand. Now
their goal is to leave town in one piece.
Critique: Lighthearted horror, sci-fi, comedy 'mish-mash' has an interesting premise, oddball characters, and wonderfully ferocious action. As our embattled heroes struggle to survive against the relentless creatures, the battle of wits that ensues becomes inventive and exciting.
The film shares strange similarities with Spielberg's legendary 'Jaws'. As the suspense and body count mount, the threatening desert sand (water) becomes an infinite playground for the bloodthirsty worms (sharks), as they use scare tactics against their unbeknown victims (swimmers). Not knowing where they will strike next, people tiptoe their way across town trying not to alert the creatures. It all makes for 'TREMEndous' fun.
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