Director – S. S. Wilson
Cast – Fred Ward, Christopher Gartin, Helen Shaver, Michael Gross, Marcelo Tubert, Marco Hernandez, José Ramón Rosario
Release Year – 1996
Reviewed by John of the Dead
With Tremors being one of my favorite horror films of all time, I remember being excited when I first saw this DTV sequel as a youngster, and I remember enjoying it as well. Much like Tremors, over a decade (around 15 years) passed since my last viewing of this effort, and while I seem to have enjoyed it a bit more during my younger days I still see this as a mostly-positive sequel to the famed original. Yeah so the execution is a bit sillier and it is nowhere near as creepy or scary as the original, but Tremors 2: Aftershocks continues the saga with unique ideas and does much for the fans in staying true to story and bringing back some worthwhile characters.
When an army of graboids attack and threaten the large Petromaya oil refinery in Mexico, its owners call on the now finacially defunct graboid hunter Earl Basset(Fred Ward) to rid their land of the graboids for $50,000 a head, an offer that Earl reluctantly cannot afford to refuse. Paired with a young sidekick, Grady, and stocked with weapons afforded by the Mexican army, Earl and Grady have the time of their lives blowing the graboids to smithereens, but when the graboids adapt and put the two in much more extreme danger, Earl calls on an old “gun crazy” friend to save them.
If you enjoyed the first Tremors effort then chances are you will enjoy this one as well. There are some big differences between the two films, which most come regarding the “feel” of this flick given it went straight-to-video and obviously comes with a much lower budget because of that.
Tremors writers Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson return to pen the screenplay, which I found to be a great benefit for this film given they were obviously inclined to keep the film true to the original story, and they did just that. Obviously, for a direct sequel to the original effort they needed to employ one (if not, both) of the original characters, Valentine and Earl, and with Kevin Bacon not making a return they went with the equally enjoyable Earl to keep this franchise alive. I enjoyed the idea of the graboids heading further south and forcing a foreign country to enlist the help of the broke and lonesome Earl, who squandered his original earnings for his graboid killing fame. His character was used very well in moving the story, providing for good comic relief, and some great feel-good moments as well thanks to how damn likable they made him, much to the credit of actor Fred Ward. Our other characters involved added positively to the film, even if their sole purpose was to be killed off in mysteriously awesome fashion, heh. As expected, Maddock and Wilson played on the awesomeness of their original story by bringing back Bert Gummer, the gun crazy lead slinging maniac who’s personality is bigger than the .50 BMG rifle he brings along with him and the gory carnage resulting from it. As far as the graboids go we get thrown into the action pretty early, which was a nice touch given the crazy development thrown in around the film’s halfway mark. The graboids have adapted to a newer species (Shrieker) that is smaller, can walk on land, and is just as deadly as their giant evolutionary predecessors. This was a great twist that kept things fresh and interesting, and while I did miss the absence of the graboids I guess it was time for us to let go and move on. :sniff sniff: The introduction of this new species made for a change in killing tactics for our characters, who were forced to get even more creative in their killing methods, and with fun results. Despite my enjoyment of this story it does come with a few faults that mostly lie on silly character that were out of place as far as timing goes, which messed with the pacing a bit.
Co-writer S. S. Wilson served as the director for this brainchild story of his, and he did a mostly-positive job with what he had to work with. From the get-go it is obvious that this sequel lacks the luster and atmosphere that the original came with, so the “feel” of this piece will not be as enjoyable for those of you who have seen its predecessor. Thankfully, Wilson employs creative direction in executing some very graboid chase/stalk scenes, and he relies on live-action FX for the graboid carnage and resulting gory mess. His execution of the characters was a bit cheezy, and while I believe their overall performances were good we get the usual cliché feels regarding their emotions on all levels, especially regarding Grady(Christopher Gartin). When things progressed from graboid to shrieker mayhem we were forced to endure CGI FX for the shriekers, which for the mid 1990s was not bad at all. I found most of the scenes believable, and much to my enjoyment the close-up scenes with the shriekers came with live-action FX, so I couldn’t balk much at the CGI. As mentioned earlier, there is not much horror going on, but we do get a few thrills here and there to keep things going. I believe that Wilson could have employed better execution regarding the film’s action and terror scenes, which came off a bit too comedic at times and lessened my enjoyment a bit. For what it is worth, this was his first full-length directing effort, and for the most part he did well with it.
Overall, Tremors 2: Aftershocks is a mostly-positive sequel to the famed original who’s original writers return to give us a cool continuation of the storyline that continues the creature action, adapts it, and throws in the fun character fare of the original by bringing back Earl and Burt for round two of monster killing carnage. The feel and execution of the piece will come off different due to its DTV status, but the creature action is good, and while we get little scares the overall action sequences provide enough for please those who enjoy these types of films.