Oct 2, 2015

[Movies] Tremors (1990)

There's a special place reserved for b-movies of the horror / thriller variety that continues on until today. For every big budget movie that wows us with their special effects and the like, you'll also get a some low-budget creation that is campy but still delightful.

Tremors is one of those movies that I remember quite vividly because of what it also helped me find over time. Oddly enough, it was while watching this movie that it was revealed to me that there had been a movie based on Dune. And so I sat through the rest of this movie in order to get all the way to the movie that I really wanted to see.

On its own, there's just something about this movie that's just so much fun, that we keep going back to it within our family. It's a movie that is mentioned every now and then, particularly by an uncle of mine. And he's the same guy who introduced us to the movie - something which spawned quite the crazy little movie franchise with all of its direct-to-video sequels.

Synopsis: Tremors is a 1990 monster movie directed by Ron Underwood. The screenplay had been written by Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson. The movie inspired 4 direct-to-video sequels and even a single-season TV series.

We have Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) as the center of the movie - two handymen in Perfection, Nevada. The town is a former mining town close to the Sierra Madre Mountains but now there's just not much going on. More and more people talking about moving to the nearby town of Bixby, which is said to be more successful. But then they encounter one of the residents, Edgar (Sunshine Parker), dead on an electrical tower while still holding onto his gun. It's determined that he actually died of dehydration, which really didn't make sense since he could have gone down at any time.

Soon it seems that there's some sort of a killer on the lose as another body is found under unusual circumstances of death. And a timely rock slide manages to take out the phone lines along with blocking the only road out of town. Val and Earl eventually encounter an odd snake-like creature that takes out their truck, but in time it is determined that it's only a limb of something greater. Thus the little earthquakes and tremors that everyone has been feeling are actually the results of creatures burrowing under the town and now coming up to feed or something along those lines.

For a movie that was made on a budget of only $11 million, the creatures at the center of it all are quite fun. You don't get to see much of these "graboids" until about the halfway point in the movie, but the way they managed those limited shots did make for a lot of fun. Like all the great monster movies, it's both about how much of it you reveal and how much of it you conceal at the same time.

And yes, this is seriously a Kevin Bacon movie and you have to appreciate how he remains totally committed to his weird cowboy handyman role and moderate action hero. This is not a story about everyone being skilled for handling such things or equipped with ridiculous amounts of firepower. Instead we have them being a fun mix of stupid and clever, depending on the circumstances.

I like the fact that there were actually multiple graboids at work, and thus it wasn't some single mystical monster rampaging across the land. Instead it felt more like some strange biological phenomenon and thus they had to deal with this little family of creatures as best as they could. And how they deal with each of the graboids attacking the town is really where the movie shines.

The acting in general was pretty mixed and thus it will always feel like more of a B-movie. And that's not necessarily a bad thing since the best B-movies can be entertaining because of the fact that they're so campy and silly. But it's all balanced out with some decent moments of tension some some silly yet crazily logical ideas about how to keep away from the monsters and eventually how to get to safety.

So yeah, for a good time, go try out Tremors. It won't change your life and the movie is probably a little dated now versus modern sensibilities, but it still has a fair amount to offer. And so the movie gets a good 4 creepy creatures under the ground out of a possible 5.


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