Director – Ron Underwood
Cast – Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, Reba McEntire, Robert Jayne, Charlotte Stewart, Tony Genaro, Ariana Richards, Richard Marcus, Victor Wong, Sunshine Parker, Michael Dan Wagner, Conrad Bachmann
Release Year – 1990
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Tremors is a film that I loved dearly as a child, and after 20 years after its debut I still love it as much as I did back then. Creature features have always been a personal favorite of mine, so naturally a creature feature will appeal to me immediately, and when you throw in good writing and positive direction the film will reign supreme in my eyes, and that is the case with Tremors. With great FX, and each of the previously mentioned elements, Tremors is a film that has stood the test of time and much to my enjoyment…will continue to do so.
Kevin Bacon(Stir of Echoes, Friday the 13th, Hollow Man) and Fred Ward(Tremors II: Aftershocks) star as Valentine and Earl, two freelancing handymen tired of the dead-end town they live in known as Perfection. Eager to leave the town in search of greater riches, the two ever-quarreling nitwits load up their beat-up pickup and say their goodbyes, but they fail at leaving their dead-end life when a slew of giant bloodthirsty creatures make their way to the town and begin gobbling up the townsfolk one by one. Traveling underground and out of sight, the creatures force the townsfolk to take up arms and get creative if they wish to survive the ordeal.
Tremors is one of the few instances of a Hollywood horror film done right. To make matters even more spectacular, this is a Hollywood CREATURE film done right, which is downright astonishing. Written by S. S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, the guys behind Short Circuit, Tremors gives us an awesome and well-written story that comes with plenty of fun horror and cheeze to go around. Centering the film around the bumbling Valentine and Earl was great, and they provide most of the fun antics that adorn the film. I enjoyed the idea of them trying to leave their small sinkhole of a town for a better life and being cut short by the creatures, referred to as “graboids”, and having to instead save the town they grew to hate. We get great development that keeps us in suspense over what is going on around the town, with people seemingly getting sucked underground in violent fashion, all building up to the epic scene where the graboid finally makes its appearance, and shows us just how big the darn things are. Our two writers threw in many more colorful characters, each with their own unique qualities used for the benefit of the film. Much to my enjoyment was Bert and his wife Heather Gummer, two gun-crazy badasses who employ a full armory of weapons to combat the graboids, even going as far as being good Samaritans and arming the townsfolk as well. The entire film takes place in the town, and the graboids provide us with an enjoyable nowhere to run scenario for the townsfolk as they are unable to walk around on open land without getting sucked under. Instead they are forced to reside on top of buildings or large rocks, with the graboids waiting patiently for them like a dog who has chased a cat up a tree. Due to the town’s desert atmosphere our characters are unable to wait for too long before suffering the effects of dehydration, which forces them to put their brains together in order to figure a away out of their messy situation. This included many fun and exciting elements to be thrown into this film, which keeps the viewer engaged and the enjoyment factor at a high level throughout.
Director Ron Underwood was fantastic in his direction of this film, which came very surprising to me given he is far from being a horror director. His execution of the horror was awesome, and he kept things exciting and tense with his great camerawork and superb employment of live-action FX. When we see people get sucked into the sand we really do see them sucked into the sand, and the graboids were used in fantastic fashion that honestly had me wowed over how these gigantic beasts were manipulated. The look of them was incredible, as they were not only giant worms but their mouths consisted of snake-like creatures employing snatch and grab tactics. We do not get a lot of gore for a creature film, but in all honesty I did not even notice it until the film was over. The live-action usage of the creatures was enough for me, and most of the gore was creature gore, which was fun and comical as well. The acting performances are fun and positive, with Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward providing great chemistry between the two. I also enjoyed Michael Gross(Tremors II: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, Sometimes They Come Back…Again) as Bert, and surprisingly enough Reba McEntire was positive in her debut acting role as well.
Overall, Tremors is an awesome horror film that gives us great creature action in a good and well-written story. Underwood’s direction is fantastic, and the usage of the creatures is beyond belief at how well they employed them. The film has a strong fun feel to it, and is definitely one of the premier horror efforts of the 1990s.