MOVIE REVIEW: “Tremors”.

Posted by

Tremors” was a movie I grew up with. My memory is generally hazy when it comes to my childhood, but I distinctly remember being enthralled by the films cover when I went to my local video store. It showcased its three characters looking alarmed as we saw a giant, toothy monster threatening to devour them from the ground. I had to see it, and I ultimately did. The only twang of regret was that the toothy monster never made an appearance, at least that’s what I presumed I felt. Honestly, the only thing I can remember was that the movie scared the crap out of me, but also provided a great deal of entertainment. Now that I’ve revisited the film, I can see why I was so in love with it. It’s one of those few films that manage to be scary, exciting, entertaining and funny all at once. I loved “Tremors” as a kid and I love “Tremors” as an adult. So here is my review and I hope you enjoy!

– Signed by MartialHorror

TREMORS (1990)

(Directed by Ron Underwood)


Plot: Valentine (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) are the local handymen of a town called Perfection, which is located somewhere in Nevada. It’s a small town with only a handful of residents, where money likely will never be made. The duo decide they’ve had enough of it and opt to leave the town. Unfortunately for them, they left one day too late as four giant monsters have decided to invade the county. They live underground and attack you based on sound, so the duo and the rest of the townsfolk must learn how to survive and fight them off.

Review: What makes “Tremors” so endearing is that it isn’t satisfied with just being a monster movie. It wants to fit in as many genres it can within itself. Generally, doing so is a warning sign. Most examples of movies trying this end up being rather underwhelming, because it’s “a little” of everything. When this happens, the viewer finds themselves wanting a little more terror or a little more action. But “Tremors” solves this problem by being a lot of everything. It is an old school monster movie that provides a lot of jolts, tension and even suspense. The monsters look awesome. Their design is morbid and creative, backed up with wonderful animatronics. They feel more real than the CGI crap we’re forced to waddle through these days. Yet the film also knows when to keep them hidden. Much like howJaws creatively used the barrels in place of the shark, this film employs many different unique ways at showing off the monsters presence. Sometimes it’s the ground moving, sometimes a house or vehicle shakes and sometimes they even do a monster POV. Regardless of what it did, if the film wasn’t being scary then it was just being intense.

But it also is a black comedy, complete with some inspired dialogue and even a few moments that manages to both frighten and amuse us at once. A major part of the films success is how it treats its characters. Val and Earl are the protagonists and their bickering is very amusing because they are amusing. However, the lines never become overwritten or contrived. It also helps that Bacon and Ward have good chemistry. But the film doesn’t stop there. The bulk of the cast is surprisingly interesting, each giving the film different flavors of their own. My favorite- and everyone’s favorite- is the gun slinging Burt (Michael Gross). He could’ve easily been a caricature, but his little quips and the moments with his wife create a very “human” character. When he and his wife confront the “graboid” (what they call them), you feel despair at the prospects of them dying but it turns into awesomeness when the other characters hear “gunfire”. The script is just clever, playing with its cliches and flipping them around. Everyone thinks that Rhonda (Finn Carter) knows what is going on because she’s a scientist, because scientists know everything in movies, but she she’s just as clueless as they are. They play with that a lot, but not too much. Hell, some characters I expected to be worm food survive for no apparent reason other than to throw us off. But the movie also knows when to be playful with the characters deaths, yet it never falls into poor taste. The humor is placed within the right points of the film, never feeling out of place but also making the experience much easier to swallow and enjoy.

It’s also a western, albeit a modern day one. The opening shot showcases the vast desert with country music playing in the background. Earl and especially Val are dressed in western attire and the town itself feels like it was lifted from the old west (a modernized version of it anyway). The western angle is generally just there to isolate the townsfolk while being a nice sandbox for the underground monsters to play in. It adds a nice dimension from the atmosphere, but don’t expect Kevin Bacon to suddenly draw a pistol like he’s Clint Eastwood while Ennio Morricone music plays in the background. This movie already has too much awesome anyway and anymore awesomeness would cause it to explode. The prequel actually does take place in the old west, but that kind of sucked, so too bad. Here, it’s only a western because of its location, but it works because you don’t see horror films tackle this angle very often.

Finally, it is also an action movie. Once it gets going, the film never stops because one epic sequence is followed by another epic sequence. Some scenes are just pretty clever with the action, such as when the characters have to pole vault off the rocks to survive. Other scenes are just surprising with how large scale they are. I love it when the tremors start causing the buildings to collapse from underneath them. It looks so authentic! It reminds me of “The Blues Brothers”, when their apartment collapses from under their feat. It doesn’t look like you’re watching a special effect of any kind, which is how special effects should be. It’s just stunning to watched and the film is full of cool, action oriented ideas. The gun battle, the tractor bit, the lawn mower chase, the “fishing with dynamite” scene and of course the epic finale. It’s an action movie that knows when to slow itself out, when to focus on the characters, comedy, atmosphere or horror, but it never ever seems to stop. It’s very exciting.

Plus, the film has a nice romance subplot (how many times have I said that?) and they even fit in an existential crises in there. This is a movie that does EVERYTHING right. I love the script, direction, acting, special effects…EVERYTHING. As a child, the film captivated me for keeping my interest and scaring the pants off me. As an adult, the film captivated me for keeping my interest and…well, I wasn’t wearing any pants anyway. It’s just a cool movie that everyone should watch. Want to see an action-comedy-horror film with cool characters fighting off cool monsters in a western setting? If so, check out “Tremors” for sure. It was the “Aliens” of the 1990’s.

Violence: PG-13 worthy. Pretty violent, but not too violent. Tastefully violent?

Nudity: A woman is in her panties during one scene.

Overall: “Tremors” is a movie that I’d recommend to anyone and everyone, regardless of your feelings about the genres it combines. It’s great!

Rating: 4/4 ★★★★