One of the best B-Movie ever made
I know when my reviews start with the spoilers, that usually means the movie is garbage and I’m about to tell you how bad. Not Tremors (1990). This movie is fucking epic! However, considering the general tone and style of the movie, it’s appropriate to treat it like a trash film, so spoilers away.
I think what’s so damn good about this movie is the fact there’s NO FUCKING WAY this was supposed to be serious horror. I mean, a pack of rednecks from the middle of nowhere take on giant man-eating worms from under the ground?
That sound like the plot of The Deadly Spawn (1983). Fucking worms from outer space and shit. Just think about it. If someone described the plot of Tremors to you, would you take it seriously? This movie sounds like it’s supposed to start with a meteor crashing into earth. It doesn’t, but it fucking sounds like it should.
Hell, they never exactly explain where the damn Graboids come from, so a meteor is just as likely as anything else. The best I can recall from the whole franchise, is that these creature were engineered to spontaneously evolve. They first encounter loose soil and sand, and evolve into worms. This fails over time as they are exterminated throughout the franchise and thus, they spontaneously mutate into different forms. At one point, even having a sort of methane gas powered rocket for a butt (no fucking joke).
The thing is, the rest of the franchise are all trash films. They’re riffing material at best. However, the first is actually quite good. I really fucking mean that. There’s no point where the movie firmly crosses over into intentionally or even accidentally ‘so bad it’s good.’ In fact, aside from the occasional comic relief, it’s got a pretty serious tone. The acting is pretty solid. It’s one of Kevin Bacon’s best horrors from the 90’s. Fred Ward is also a stellar co-star. Sure, they didn’t have a lot to work with, and yeah their characters are kinda silly, but they worked well together. Hell, even the child actor was reliably able to freak the fuck out on queue without making a mess of it. She’d later go on to play Lex in Jurassic Park.
The practical FX were also fucking impressive. The Graboids were basically giant puppets. That’s the kind of puppeteering we haven’t seen since Aliens (1986); Ripley’s fight with the queen in the power loader. It’s the kind of practical FX that would slowly die over the next decade as CGI took root. But GOD DAMN the effort that went into these creatures! Their design and behavior was well thought out. While the science behind it is a little wonky, it’s good enough to help the audience suspend all disbelief. The fact that they had problem solving intelligence also made them a hell of a menace.
This means the plot unfolded quite naturally. You could easily pretend this movie was shot scene for scene without a script and the director and writer just asking “Alright, and then what would happen,” after every scene. The Graboids just start at one end of the valley, and eat their way to the other side until the townsfolk escape.
Also, this movie has a line that I use all the damn time in real life. Often I’m hear exclaiming from across the room “I’VE GOT A GOD DAMN PLAN!” as I sort my way through something usually fairly mundane. I’m also surprised how many people often get the reference.
Look, this movie is an absolute must see for Horror Heads. Hell, the whole franchise is practically required viewing for Riffers. Honestly though, I’d wager even general audiences will appreciate the first Tremors (1990).
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