"Jaws? Never heard of 'em!"
I remember watching this movie when I was little. I wasn't a fan of horror movies when I was younger because like most (read: normal) kids, they scared me. It was bad enough thinking there's monsters under your bed and vampires in your closet, I sure didn't need to watch scary movies. Freddy Kruger was particularly terrifying to little kids and with good reason. There were certain movies, though, despite being horror, that didn't strike fear into a young me and allowed me to enjoy the movie for what it was. One of those movies was Tremors.
Tremors is a 1990 horror comedy starring Kevin Bacon (Footloose, Apollo 13) as Valentine “Val” McKee and Fred Ward (Naked Gun 33 1/3, Road Trip) as Earl Basset. They word odd jobs around the miniscule Nevada town of Perfection. They meet a graduate student conducting seismology tests named Rhonda LeBeck (Finn Carter, Ghosts of Mississippi, As The World Turns). Rhonda tells them that her machines have been picking up some odd seismic activity, but they don't know anything about it. Fed up with Perfection, Val and Earl decide to head to Bixby, a bigger town about 40 miles away. On the road, they notice a local man holding onto an electrical tower. Val goes to check on him and is shocked to find him dead. The local doctor says that the man died of dehydration, meaning he had to have been scared of something so bad that he stayed on the tower for days. Val and Earl try to leave again, but come across another dead local, this time only finding his severed head. They try to flee, but something is holding their truck. Val floors it and they finally break free. When they arrive in town, the phone lines are down and the only road to Bixby is now blocked because of a rock slide. They discover a hideous dead snake creature had wrapped itself around their axle. The next day, Val and Earl leave by horseback to get help, but the horses are attacked by more snake creatures. The snakes are actually tentacles that shoot out of the mouth of a much larger burrowing sandworm creature. They make a run for it and dive into a concrete aqueduct. The sandworm slams into the concrete and kills itself. Rhonda appears and determines that there are three more creatures based on her seismic readings. They also discover that the creatures sense their prey through vibrations in the ground They make it back to Perfection, where the creatures, renamed Graboids by the package store owner Walter, now have the town trapped. Everyone gets on their roofs to avoid making sound of vibrations. The Graboids start to knock down the buildings and Val and Earl come up with an idea; make it to the local mountains where they can't be followed. Will the entire town be able to make the journey or will they become a lunch for these subterranean monsters?
"Hi! Can I interest you folks in some band candy?"
I loved this movie when I was young and I love it as an adult. The movie does have it's moments of horror and action, but it's biggest strength is it's humor. When I say humor, I don't want you to think I mean something like Family Guy or Two and a Half Men. I mean writing that is actually clever, well-thought act, and perfectly executed. The writing is really solid and is totally believable thanks to the great performances and chemistry between Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward. Tremors is practically a buddy movie with some horrible man-eating worms thrown in to the mix. Finn Carter also has really good chemistry with the two actors. Even the various townspeople play their parts well, particularly Michael Gross (the dad from Family Ties) and Reba McEntire (yes, the country music star) whole play survivalist gun nuts. The great writing and acting make for a thoroughly fun watch from beginning to end. It's not easy to make a monster/horror movie fun, but they managed to do it.
The Graboids, though hidden for most of the movie, look pretty good. They do draw a considerable amount of fear, mostly thanks to some good effects and clever camera shots. Director Ron Underwood gets the most out of his cast and the desert surroundings. It's such a shame that he was involved in the disastrous The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Despite being a horror movie about giant sandworm creatures, it's still very believable. The movie employs fast camera work along the ground shots, similar to those used in Evil Dead. The movie has plenty of action with most of the blood coming from the monsters themselves. There are a few good scenes of people being attacked and some creative deaths.
"If lassos don't work, I give up"
Simply put, Tremors is a fun horror movie. With the thousands of horror movies out there, it's hard to find one that is legitimately fun and funny with a good mixture of action and a few scares. The acting is great and the writing is spot-on. The dialogue is natural and nothing feels forced. The monsters look convincingly scary. There's a good reason that the movie spawned 3 sequels and a television show in 2003. Do yourself a favor and check out Tremors. You won't be disappointed.