Another week, another horror movie marathon. This week, in honor of the new Tremors movie coming out, we will be looking at three of the tremors movie. Mainly, the first 3. I have not watched all of the new Tremors yet, I watched the first nine minutes, and it looked very bad. I will get back to it soon, and do a full review. But for now, let’s look at the three movies that started it all before the franchise really imploded.
Tremors is one of the best monster movies of the modern era. And I am not being ironic. It is a very good horror movie, with a unique monster. The Graboid is underrated in the pantheon of horror movie monster. The idea of something grabbing you from under the ground, and then pulling you under, and burying you, is terrifying.
A lot of horror movies like to claim they are similar to Jaws. In fact, there is a kind of annoying, yet hilarious of tropes, where movies taglines will be, “Will do to (blank, what Jaws did the Ocean.” But this movie honestly feels like Jaws on the land. It has the same monster point of view shots. Also, the same way Jaws has the fin to show the monster under the water, Tremors has the shot of the ground moving.
It has a great cast, led by Kevin Bacon. I have said before, that the key to a good horror movie, is good characters. If the characters in a movie are unlikable, or forgettable, we have no reason to care about the fact they are being picked off. But in this movie, at least the main cast is interesting. There are certainly some disposable characters that are there only to be killed off early, but the main group, which we spend the bulk of the movie following, is great. I mentioned Kevin Bacon, and his character, Valentine, is fantastic. His friend Earl, played by Fred Ward, also a character you want to root for. But the best character is Burt Gummer, played by Michael Gross. Burt is the type of gun nut that you want in a movie like this.
It features a smart monster, that constantly forces the characters to adjust. It has some darkly scary moments, like when we realize the monster, instead of eating someone, just starved them out, Because in order to avoid the Graboid you have to get up high. The guy climbs a telephone pole to get away, but then he can’t get down. The Graboid waits out the guy, and he eventually dies of dehydration or starvation. That is kind of heavy.
It can also be funny and light when it has to be. Overall, it is a very entertaining movie. One that deserves more attention in the sub-genre. The effects are mostly good, given the use of practical effects. It is a fun monster movie.
Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996)
Tremors 2 was not as good as the first. That is to be expected considering this sequel was direct to DVD. And for whatever reason, movies that never get the green light to get released in theaters, are usually of a lower quality.
It is not bad, and still an entertaining movie, but it loses a little of what made it special. They do manage to bring back two of the main characters from the first. Kevin Bacon is gone, but Earl and Burt both make a return. But one of the problems is that for a while it follows the same exact formula as the first one. They get stood in a desert, have to find a way to get back to their cars and back to the town, Then they get stranded on the roof.
But they do throw one wrench into the formula. The Graboid evolves. But that is another problem, because the new form, is kind of lame compared to the Graboid. The new monsters, called shriekers, do not burrow underground at all. They are smaller, and instead of tracking their pray through sound, they do so through thermal vision. They are much smaller as well. It is just a lamer, less threatening villain. The only scary part is how fast they can replicate because they reproduce if they eat any food. It is just a lame monster. The Graboid offered unique obstacles and felt somewhat original. The Shrieker feels like something we have seen many times before.
The movie adds a whole subplot of protecting the species because they are endangered, It doesn’t quite get built up enough in this movie, but it does pay off in the next movie at least.
The effects are still decent, although the shriekers look fake sometimes when they are running since they had to use CGI when the shriekers were moving around. But it is not that bad, and the Graboid still looks great when it appears. Overall, while it is definitely a step-down, it is still fun. I enjoyed watching it. And given the fact it is direct to DVD, is actually impressive.
Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001)
Tremors 3 again failed to live up to the original, but still no nowhere near as bad as the more recent movies. It still has the fun of the original two, but maybe too much of it.
It leans heavily on the comedy, opting for some lame humor at times. For instance, the new evolution of monster is called an Ass Blaster, because it blasts fire out of its ass. A joke that gets kind of tired after a while.
This is also when we start to realize the way this creature evolves makes no sense. It goes from being a blind mole monster that can only track its prey through detecting motion in the ground, to a monster that is deaf, lives on the land, and only tracks prey through infrared, to a monster that flies. Shriekers reproduce every time they eat, but Ass Blasters get knocked out when they eat. Why is it evolving like this? The way it chooses to adapt is so erratic and makes no sense.
Only Burt returns from the second movie, but a bunch of side characters from the first return to make up for it, but not Kevin Bacon. The characters are still somewhat interesting at least. The mom and her daughter are completely useless, but Burt and the two new main characters are fun to root for.
There is one really good scene, where Burt is swallowed whole by a Graboid, but another character manages to save him by killing the Graboid and slicing it open.
And the whole subplot of protecting the species actually pays off in this movie. They go into how the Graboids actually benefit the environment, and how they can preserve the species, without it being a danger to others. It is maybe a bit heavy-handed at times, but I think it works overall.
But my problem is just how stupid the Ass Blaster is. The series seems to think to adapt, they need to change the creature. But the Graboid is the best, and only scary version. I will say, that despite the name, Ass Blasters are still better than Shriekers, because they can fly adding another way for them to kill, but even still, the best scenes are all with the Graboid.
In the end, it is still fun, and as a movie is probably just as good as the second movie. It is a quality monster movie. But I cannot help but think, that if these two movies got a theatrical release, they could have been better.