TremorsJanuary 19, 1990
Natives of a small isolated town defend themselves against strange underground creatures which are killing them one by one.
Release Year: 1990
Rating: 7.1/10 (41,676 voted)
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter
A small town gradually becomes aware of a strange creature which picks off people one by one. But what is this creature, and where is it? At the same time, a seismologist is working in the area, she detects _tremors_. The creature lives underground, and can 'pop up' without warning. Trapped in their town, the town-folk have no escape.
Writers: S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock
(as Bobby Jacoby)
Michael Dan Wagner
They say there's nothing new under the sun. But under the ground…
Release Date: 19 January 1990
Filming Locations: Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $3,731,520
(21 January 1990)
Did You Know?
Composer Robert Folk was brought in at the very last minute to re-score the film. This was due to the original score composed by credited composer Ernest Troost was lacking the punch that it needed for the film musically. Approximately thirty minutes or more was written by Folk and strangely goes uncredited in the film's credits.
When Earl goes to where Rhonda found the pole-vaulting sticks, two of them are conveniently placed right next to the rock, but when Rhonda first took a stick, they were in a random place farther from the rock. Further, the poles grow in length from the time they are picked up by Earl until the long shot of them being used.
What the hell's in those things, Burt?
A few household chemicals in the proper proportions.
Genre fans and casual moviegoers will find lots of things to love in Tremors, possibly the best horror/comedy ever made.
*** 1/2 out of ****
Tremors is often described by many to be a cult classic, which is odd. The
fact is, cult films usually have a quirky quality to them that separate them
from the usual Hollywood-churned machine. Take Re-Animator, for example, or
even the recent Ravenous, both of which have oddities and bloody quirks that
average viewers might find repellant. But Tremors isn't the slightest bit
offbeat. It's made in full Hollywood-style with a predictably happy ending
to boot. So what makes it a "cult classic"? Could it be that it's
successful in mixing almost every genre into the proceedings or that it's
great entertainment that simply didn't get the box office reception it
deserved? Perhaps both, because this is one movie that always puts a smile
on my face and simultaneously gets my pulse-pounding every time I watch it.
The plot is similar to that of the monster films of the old days. Valentine
Mckee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) are two handymen "trapped"
in the small town of Perfection, Nevada. They have dreams of making it big,
but their ambitious goals always seem out of reach. Just when they do
decide to finally leave, the discovery of dead bodies, both human and
animal, keep them there for just a while longer. There's also the road,
which has been blocked by a large boulder.
On hand to study some strange seismic activity is Rhonda (Finn Carter), a
grad student who helps Mckee and Bassett come to the realization that both
the deaths and the odd vibrations in the ground are connected. It turns out
to be the work of giant 30-foot worms, four of them to be exact, and they
trap the townspeople of Perfection in their homes, including gun-happy,
WWIII-prepared couple Burt and Heather Gummer (Michael Gross and Reba
Mcentire). The rest of the film becomes a desperate scramble to outsmart
the worms and get out of the town alive.
The first thing that's noticable about Tremors is probably how it's
obviously inspired by 50's monster flicks. The great thing, though, is that
Tremors plays itself as a comedy, preferring laughs over scares, a wise
decision since if the film took itself seriously, it would have been a major
detriment. The laughs aren't cheap, either, as they result from witty
dialogue and new twists on the "monster" subgenre. The great chemistry
between Bacon and Ward brings the most humor to the film. Playing best
friends with little education but plenty of smarts, these are two
performances that are a hoot to watch. It'd be great to see them in another
film together again (too bad it didn't happen in Tremors 2).
But in addition to the laughs, there's also the action, which is frenetic
and exciting. Director Ron Underwood gives the film a lightning pace and
the 95 minutes seems to just roll by. The fun action consists of a lot of
running and "get off the ground" moments. For the last 45 minutes, Tremors
is almost full of non-stop excitement, and it's surprising to see that the
action never gets tiresome nor dull for a single moment. The movie isn't
scary or frightening at all, but with suspense and thrills this sharp, who
cares (Besides, being scary is hardly the film's intent.)?
It's nice to see that this movie is not particularly gory or full of
gratuitous violence. While I do enjoy gory violence when it fits the style
and tone, it wouldn't have been welcome here and the light-hearted feel that
permeates Tremors is a crucial reason to its success; there's no
unneccessary unpleasantness and it also proves that the movie creates
genuine excitement without resorting to splashing blood all over the screen.
Because of this, it easily reaches out to a larger amount of viewers, making
it a movie that's just as easily accessible for fans of, say, screwball
comeides as it is for action lovers. Since the movie is PG-13, there are
still a couple of moments of semi-graphic violence, but nothing
objectionable to someone 10 years or older.
The special effects are fun, with the worms as the film's showpiece.
Thankfully, there's no overdone CGI and the worms are actually well-rendered
and convincing. But I must say, I was a little misled, seeing how it is the
worms don't actually look like the one on the video box cover (which
actually looks cooler). But never mind that, I'm wondering how the director
managed to pull off so many scenes of the creatures popping out from
underground. I mean, given the fact that this is a goofy monster movie, it
couldn't have been given a very big budget. I also love those worm POV
shots, particularly the ones that actually feature the camera wading through
S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock's script is clever without being particulary
intelligent or distinguished. This isn't a brilliant film by a long shot
but it goes to show that some writers who just want to write a fun script
can actually get the job done. It's a little odd to note that all of Wilson
and Maddock's other screenplays (with maybe the exception of Tremors' own
sequels) have been pretty bad, culminating to the debacle known as Wild Wild
West. Unlike that film and the others they've written, this one isn't
But it's not the action and the laughs that put this film above so many
countless movies of the genre. It is, after all, the characters that make
this film as highly entertaining as it is. As said before, Kevin Bacon and
Fred Ward's chemistry is natural and they deliver some of their best acting
in their careers. It's actually a shame that Ward never reached the same
heights of stardom as Bacon; he sure as hell had the charisma and acting
skill for it. Also very good is Finn Carter as Rhonda, and it's also a
little unfortunate her career hasn't gone far since this. She and Bacon
also have some nice chemistry, which further establishes this movie as one
that also works partially as a romance (a good feat, considering it's not
even striving to be one). The other standouts are Michael Gross and Reba
Mcentire as the gun-toting couple. Their performances are a lot of fun and
there's a hilarious scene involving the two of them trying to kill one of
the giant worms in their basement.
Tremors wasn't much of a box office success but has since gone on to have a
strong life on video, to the point where it even inspired other knowingly
goofy creature features such as Anaconda, Lake Placid, Deep Blue Sea, and
Deep Rising (of these three, only Rising comes to mind as a must see). None
of them managed to reach the heights of Tremors, perhaps because their
characters weren't as likable and memorable, thus leaving this film as the
one all future monster films will be compared to. The film's also got its
own sequels, the first of which I remember as being pretty fun but certainly
inferior. Tremors 3 I have yet to see, but it's one I'm looking forward to.