Friday Film Review: Tremors
Genre: comedy, horror, romance
Hey, if Jaili can do “Slither,” I can do one too. And my entry for comedy B grade monster movie is “Tremors.” I haven’t watched any of the three sequels, and from the reviews of them I’ve read, I think the reviewers wished they hadn’t either, so my advice is stick with the original.
I first saw it shortly after its original release in 1990. A friend and I used to alternate picking movies to watch and one night her choice was “Tremors.” I have to be honest and admit that as I began to watch it my initial thoughts were, “WTF?” But my friend said “trust me” and I did. And I ended up being glad I did then purchasing the DVD a year ago.
Met Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward), two handymen in the small, isolated Nevada town of Perfection. They’re just getting by and as the film opens, we see their daily grind of mindless jobs including garbage pickup for the town and pumping out the septic tank. With escape to the big(ger) nearby town of Bixby in mind, they finally decide to head out. Only to run into the evidence of a killer on the loose. Or what they think is a killer.
Only it’s not human, or rather they’re not human. They’re what the terrified townspeople name graboids and they live underground, tracking their prey by vibrations. And as Val yells in frustration, to them the valley is just one long smorgasbord. But as the graboids get smarter about hunting and the options to flee dwindle, do the Perfectionites have a chance? Why yes, if they have a plan.
“Tremors” is sort of an homage to the B grade monster movies of the 1950s. It’s also a great buddy film with wonderful one liners and chemistry between Bacon and Ward. But wait! There’s more, as SB Sarah likes to say. There’s a romance as well between Bacon and “girl next door” Rhonda (Finn Carter) who plays a college PhD student who’s in the valley for the summer to study seismology.
We also get Michael Gross (the father in the old TV series “Family Ties” which launched Michael J. Fox to stardom) and country music star Reba McEntire, in her first acting role, who play a survivalist couple with a rec room that’s loaded for bear, or graboid as the case turns out.
Just stick with the film past the first 10 minutes during which we have the obligatory introduction of the secondary characters. By minute 15 the bodies, or what’s left of them, are piling up in Perfection. The squeamish need not worry as most of the graboid killing is done off screen or underground. What is seen is more like “Jaws,” with implied danger and terror but little actual blood beyond that of the graboids as the townspeople ingeniously come up with ways to off them.
It’s a horror film, it’s a comedy, it’s a romance. It’s everything! And, if you don’t go into it expecting a cinematic masterpiece, it’s a lot of fun too.