So when I was a little creepy bald guy, my parents took me to ‘Hollywood Video’ and like any ordinary child, I roamed the horror section looking for the most macabre and grotesque movie that I could possibly find…and for some reason I settled on “Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return“…But during another journey to my favorite video store, my attention was grabbed by a specific cover-art that showed a giant monster with a toothy maw, threatening to devour people from underneath the ground. It was an eye catching poster and even though I didn’t notice this at the time, it was drawing heavy influence from “Jaws“, which is…ONLYMYFAVORITEMOVIEOFALLF@CKINGTIME, so naturally I chose to wrap my mouth tentacles around the tape and devoured it. I was actually quite livid when it turned out that the cover had been a deception and the monsters looked absolutely nothing like what was promised, making me so angry that…”Tremors” ended up becoming a personal favorite of mine…and that will show those lying marketing department people! My initial disappointment was completely sucked into the ground and eaten by the entirety of the movie, which embodied everything I wanted- and still want- out of a film. It became much more than a movie to me as I have vivid memories of us kids playing games based around the movie, where we had to stay off the ground. But we also made up missions that kept us off the safety of our couches or chairs, so we had to get creative with what piece of furniture we could get on and/or stick to a time limit on the floor before the Graboids ate us. “Jaws“, “Godzilla“, “Jurassic Park“, “Aliens” and “Tremors” were the pillars of my childhood, so I can’t be entirely objective about my feelings here. Luckily, I have already reviewed the majority of the series, so be sure to click on the headlined TITLES to read my formal thoughts. This page will be dedicated more to my own history with the franchise, but will culminate into a review of the newest entry, “Tremors 6: A Cold Day in Hell“.
(Directed by Ron Underwood)
(Written by S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock)
(Starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Michael Gross)
Valentine (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) are two handymen making their living in the small, isolated town of ‘Perfection, Nevada’. Tired of their life of desert sand and septic tanks, they decide to move to the city…only to find their escape halted by subterranean monsters who are picking off the townsfolk one by one. As a kid, I think “Tremors” appealed to me primarily because it seamlessly blends so many of favorite genres together. If I wanted to laugh, the movie functions as a comedy. The cast is a lot of fun and these characters seemed so larger than life, without feeling like they’re above the danger. Their chemistry and dialogue allows them to exchange some hilarious barbs, especially between Ward and Bacon. There’s a lot of great lines, a great display of comedic timing and even some great visual gags…But if I wanted to be scared, the movie also functions as a great horror flick. The director initially keeps the threat hidden, but keeps building up their presence, even when they aren’t technically in the area. I think the Graboids have a very menacing and imaginative design, probably because they look like giant hell penises…and who wouldn’t marvel at a couple of those? The sound mixing crew must’ve loved this project, because the Graboids hunt by sound and attention is drawn to harmless noises like footsteps. The characters might not realize the significance, but the audience is alerted to the danger, adding to the suspense. I also appreciate that even though “Tremors” can be very funny, the characters do treat their mortality with the utmost sincerity. They react to their friends dying with anguish and anger, with some scenes even threatening to become tear jerking just because of their reactions. The kills aren’t gory, but each death stings in its own way, as you feel the victims pain. “Tremors” also functions as a great action flick, for it is armed to the teeth with exciting and memorable set pieces. The production values were top notch for a genre feature and the special effects hold up to this day. I like how creative the movie becomes with its action scenes, whether it’s a chase or a shoot-out. The characters are forced to outsmart the monsters…who in turn, start to outsmart the characters, so the stakes were always being raised. There is also a dash of romance to be found in the story, as well as a distinct western aesthetic, without any of these genres really feeling out of balance or upstaged by one another. You would expect the tone to be all over the place, but “Tremors” never becomes too farcical to cease being frightening, nor does it ever get too grisly to cease being funny. The balancing of its contrasting genres is so much of the films charm and is integral to its identity, something that certain sequels would forget down the line. But for now, everything in “Tremors” fits together perfectly and I wouldn’t change a thing about it…except maybe that one awkward shot where Burt appears to be firing at a green screen…BUT THAT IS ALL and seriously…who cares? That’s one shot in what might be the greatest cinematic confrontation of all time.
As an adult, I have a better understanding of why “Tremors” works than I did as a kid, for reasons I listed above. I now appreciate how well it balances its screen-time between the main characters and the supporting cast, as everyone contributes something and becomes distinct in their own way. I now appreciate all of the different kinds of special effects used to bring the Graboids to life, which included a mixture of puppetry, miniatures, animatronics and more. “Tremors” is devoid of any fat, with no superfluous subplots or unnecessary side characters, as such things would’ve disrupted its high energy. Yet I can’t think of anything that required further exploration either. ‘Perfectly Balanced’ is how I would describe it. “Tremors” just might be…perfection…and my rating is going to reflect that…Unfortunately, it under-performed at the box office, in spite of positive reviews. “Tremors” ended up being much more successful on the home market though and quickly grew into a cult classic. Yet while this allowed for sequels to be made, it also meant that there would be limitations as to what could be done with them, for direct-to-video releases are never given the budgets that the first “Tremors” had to work with. So it was inevitable that the sequels would get cheaper, but would they at least maintain the eccentric charm of the original?
TREMORS II: AFTERSHOCKS (1996)
(Directed by S.S. Wilson)
(Written by Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson )
(Starring Fred Ward, Chris Gartin and Michael Gross)
I don’t really remember when I first discovered “Tremors“, but I would assume it was sometime between 1994 and 1996, because I have vivid memories of thinking to myself: “I wish there was a Tremors sequel“…and literally LATER THAT DAY (and I swear I am not exaggerating this), I saw a commercial for “Tremors II: Aftershocks” on a VHS tape I had rented. I can’t remember what the rental was, but I remember the elation I felt when one of the clips had Burt Gummer blowing up a Graboid using a remote control car. I also remember starting to see advertisements in a nearby Blockbuster, although I can’t remember why I was in a Blockbuster and not my usual haunt, Hollywood video. I remember my (former) Step Brothers and I freaking out on the release date and settling down to watch the anticipated sequel…and I remember all of us really liking it, even though we all agreed it was not quite as good as the original. As an adult, I’m aware that the first sequel was divisive, some viewing it as good and others as bad, although everyone concurs that it’s a step down from the first…which for someone whose ‘Top 10 Favorite Movies of All Time’ list includes “Tremors“, is not that big of a deal. I think “Tremors II: Aftershocks” works for most of the reasons its predecessor did, even if said predecessor did everything better. The story surrounds Earl (Fred Ward), who has taken the role of protagonist from his partner Val, as Kevin Bacon chose not to appear this time around. He’s fallen on hard times, but when fanboy Grady (Chris Gartin) informs him that Graboids have appeared in Mexico, Earl…turns him down..but when fanboy Grady (Christ Gartin) informs him that he will be paid to help with the Graboid situation, Earl reluctantly agrees. Whereas the first “Tremors” juggled suspense, humor and excitement simultaneously, “Aftershocks” breaks up its tone into segments. The first third is a breezy, comedic adventure and there is a lot of fun to be had watching our duo go Graboid hunting. Even though Grady can be a little annoying and he’s a weak replacement for Val, Fred Ward and Chris Gartin had enough chemistry to keep me engaged and yes…everyones favorite “Tremors” character Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) eventually shows up to make us all squee in delight. The second segment is much more horror oriented, even to the point of becoming surprisingly creepy. There was a moment where I remember being terrified that a fan favorite would die and even as an adult, it gives me chills. The final third balances tension, thrills and laughs, mostly succeeding in those areas. You can tell that “Aftershocks” suffered from some budget cuts, as they don’t do as much with the Graboids, but the effects still looked fine. I liked the designs of the new monsters and even though the CGI doesn’t look great by todays standards, it’s only used when practical effects would be impossible and that’s how I prefer it. “Aftershocks” is never as exciting, funny, thrilling or as clever as the first film and that is its biggest weakness, as you can tell they’re trying to replicate a lot of the same dynamics and style, without being able to match it…But ‘not as good’ does not necessarily mean it’s not good and I think “Aftershocks” is a worthy follow-up to a cult classic. My main problem is that most of the supporting cast is pretty boring and you can tell which ones are only there to be worm food. Nevertheless, as this was made before ‘direct-to-video’ became synonymous with garbage, “Tremors II: Aftershocks” deserves more praise than it gets.
TREMORS 3: BACK TO PERFECTION (2001)
(Directed by Brent Maddock)
(Written by John Whelpley)
(Starring Michael Gross, Shawn Christian and Susan Chuang)
The story of how I discovered “Tremors 3” is an epic one, a tale filled with twists, turns and- actually, I just…saw it sitting on the shelf at a video store…By 2001, my passion for “Tremors” had cooled off, as I was now a moody teenager who had moved on to whatever was trendy at the time. Yet I still journeyed to Hollywood Video on a weekly basis and was surprised when I saw a cover for “Tremors 3: Back to Perfection“, as I had not seen a single advertisement promoting its release. Nostalgia demanded that I make it my chosen rental, so I submitted to its demands and took it home with me, where I came to the conclusion that the franchise was dead. I HATED this movie at the time, but over the years my feelings would gradually soften to indifference. As an adult, I can understand what this was trying to do, even if I don’t agree with the creative direction of the saga. Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) has finally become the main character and when Graboids return to the town of ‘Perfection’, he must prepare the townsfolk for war. Complicating things is the arrival of Government Agents and a new evolutionary form of the Graboids. “Back to Perfection” is a comedy, in contrast to its predecessors which balanced humor with horror evenly and I really do not like this change in tone. As the first two movies were hugely popular on Television, I think the idea was to make this sequel safe for the small screen. The violence is minimal, the budget is low enough to guarantee a profit and someone involved probably saw this as a makeshift pilot for a TV series…which ended up happening shortly afterwards. For what it’s worth, the decision to downplay the scary side of the Graboids was probably smart as the special effects team had very little money to work with. The CGI is terrible, the practical effects were arguably worse and the sets looked cheap. If director Brent Maddock tried to scare the audience, they would’ve laughed at his product, whereas embracing the ‘comedy’ provided the possibility that the audience would laugh with his product instead. I personally didn’t think “Back to Perfection” was very funny, nor did I think the direction or writing were particularly good. I do not like this sequel and consider it to be the worst of the franchise, but it no longer makes me feel angry or irritable. I believe everyone involved tried to make it work and it was nice seeing the majority of the supporting cast from the first film reprise their roles. But it’s Michael Gross who has to carry the movie on his shoulders and his performance kept me engaged- if only minimally. I might not like the direction the franchise is taking at this point, but I think it was wise to push Burt Gummer as the central protagonist. He makes every scene he’s in more bearable and to the credit of “Back to Perfection“, he is in almost every scene. So at the absolute least, this could’ve been a lot worse…Although who the f@ck thought calling the new monsters ‘Ass-Blasters’ was a good idea? I like the design, but the name alone ruins them. I feel bad for bullying “Tremors 3: Back to Perfection” though, as I think the filmmakers’ hearts were in the right place. They just needed a bigger budget and maybe a better director.
In 2003, the Syfy Channel (back when it was known as the Sci-Fi Channel) aired the television series, which they simply called “Tremors“. It only lasted a season and was beset with some bizarre problems, such as airing the episodes out of order. I watched the pilot, but I couldn’t get into it for all of the same reasons I disliked “Tremors 3“- hence, why I view the movie as a quasi-pilot itself. It has developed a cult following over the years though, with many feeling that it was unfairly treated by the network. If it ever becomes available on whatever streaming service I’m using at the time, I might give it a second chance.
TREMORS 4: THE LEGEND BEGINS (2004)
(Directed by S.S Wilson)
(Written by S.S Wilson, Brent Maddock, Nancy Roberts and Scott Buck)
(Starring Michael Gross, Brent Roam and Sara Botsford)
My history with “Tremors 4” is so unceremonious that it’s not even worth mentioning. The internet had finally become a staple of my household and I heard about the production of this one on a horror-related website, which is how I came across it…and isn’t that exciting? “Tremors 4: The Legend Begins” is a prequel, set during the ‘wild west’, which is an idea that is both interesting and redundant. The franchise has always had a western motif, so what could this setting offer that we haven’t already seen before? We’ve seen Graboids terrorize horses, people with cowboy hats and shrug off gunfire, so the weapons of the time would be…even more useless than the already useless modern weapons… Furthermore, do we need any kind of origins story? Do we need to learn why Burt loves guns? This concept seemed pointless to me, but I have to give credit where credit is due. It’s an ambitious idea that I would assume would automatically come with effort, as westerns usually require a little bit more time and money than most genre flicks. The story follows Burt’s ancestor, Hiram Gunner (Michael Gross), an eccentric snob who despises guns and owns the silver mine that is the lifeblood for the small town of ‘Rejection’. But when Graboids attack the mines, he has to rise to the occasion and become the man to slay them. “The Legend Begins” returns to the franchise roots by balancing comedy and horror, being more successful with the latter than the former. I found most of the jokes to be lame, as the cast seems to be struggling with sounding authentic to the time period, so the attempts to be funny are more awkward than amusing. Brent Maddock and S.S Wilson have been writing these movies from the beginning and even were trading directorial duties for the sequels, with Maddock helming “Tremors 3” and Wilson doing the same for both “Tremors 2” and “Tremors 4“. You can tell that they have a lot of passion for this setting and the characters who inhabit it, so it’s not like the cast is devoid of personality. They have an eccentric charm that fits snugly within the “Tremors” formula. Michael Gross is actually surprisingly good considering how annoying his character can be, but the script often doesn’t know how to utilize its characters. They’re often absent from the danger and the dialogue emphasizes how the monsters haven’t reached the town yet. This drastically reduces the tension, because unless they’re specifically hunting for Graboids, we know the characters are safe. A LOT of screen-time is dedicated to the townsfolk sitting around and being quirky. There’s no point to a lot of these scenes, nor is there any sense of urgency, so expect a fair amount of downtime. The special effects are actually quite decent, but only because there isn’t a lot of action. The budget is used sparingly, so the few Graboid appearances leave an impact, but at the cost of having a slower pace. “Tremors 3” spread its money throughout its entire running-time, so the pacing is faster, with the cost of it being…bad…You, the audience member, ultimately have to choose what your poison is. But S.S Wilson is a much better director than Maddock, so when the thrills occur, they are pretty effective. The finale is exciting and the ‘mill siege’ is one of my favorite scenes of the entire franchise. There are some really strong, atmospheric landscape shots and the sets, costumes, etc. seemed authentic enough. “Tremors 4: The Legend Begins” looks a lot more cinematic than its predecessor did and I prefer it, because it’s more in line with the first two films, but I can definitely understand why some would call it ‘boring’. When I saw it in 2004, I thought it was pretty dull myself, but it has grown on me over the years.
TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES (2015)
(Directed by Don Michael Paul)
(Written by William Truesmith, M.A. Deuce and John Whelpley)
(Starring Michael Gross, Jamie Kennedy and Pearl Thusi)
There was a time period where the “Tremors” movies got a lot of air time on the Syfy Channel and because they all had various levels of cult appeal, the franchise was kept alive as long as the budgets were limited. But the network seemed to lose faith in the film series after the dismal failure of the 2003 TV show, so the the airings dried up and the franchise subsequently lost its momentum. The only reason we ended up getting a “Tremors 4: The Legend Begins” was because it entered production at the same time as the doomed show. The Syfy Channel would go on to find success in…cheaper…shittier…movies with goofy titles and “Tremors” would remain dormant for another 11 years before a 5th entry was announced. I’m not going to pretend that I was eagerly awaiting for the Graboids to make a comeback, but if I was, there would be a few causes for concern for the new sequel. For one, Bent Maddock and S.S Wilson passed on the project even though the script was loosely based on one of their own and if Michael Gross was the heart of this saga, I would argue that they were its soul, warts and all. The second concern was that they were replaced by Don Michael Paul, whose resume is mostly comprised of garbage direct-to-DVD sequels. The third reason was…Jamie Kennedy…All of this pointed to “Tremors 5: Bloodlines” being a quick cash grab, but much to my surprise, it actually appeared that the studio was treating the brand with some respect. The production values have been beefed up, allowing for more set pieces and superior effects. The CGI is really good and I found myself liking the upgraded designs of both the African Graboids and their Ass-Blaster equivalents. While there is quite a bit of comedy, I would say horror and action were the favored genres. I found the attack scenes to be a little awkward due to some bad editing and they re-use a few of the money shots, but I thought Paul handled the tension pretty well. The build up was often better than the pay-off, but I’d still say “Bloodlines” had more successes than failures. I thought the African setting was aesthetically appealing and Michael Gross turns in his best performance since the original film. As for the comedy, it’s hit or miss. Some of the jokes made me laugh, Jamie Kennedy’s did…not…Although let it be known that he didn’t annoy me as much as I thought he would. Kennedy plays Travis, who recruits the mostly retired Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) to go Graboid Hunting in Africa, except these monsters are tougher than the ones Burt is used to killing. The reason why I found myself missing Maddock and Wilson is that the supporting cast was weakly written. The only time they showed any any trace of personality was right before they died, so none of them were especially interesting. Say what you will about Maddock and Wilson, at least their entries had quirky and charming characters, who could keep your attention when the Graboids weren’t terrorizing them. “Tremors 5: Bloodlines” is a mostly well made creature feature, but there’s something mechanical about it. I can see the effort that was put into the production, but I don’t see the passion that Maddock and Wilson put into their products. “Bloodlines” is still OK, but that’s it…It’s just OK. But it’s the kind of OK that the franchise needs, as it sets the standard for subsequent sequels…
Which leads us to….
TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL (2018)
(Directed by Don Michael Paul)
(Written by John Whelpley)
(Starring Michael Gross, Jamie Kennedy and Tanya van Graan)
It has been a strange, exciting, frustrating and confusing time to be a “Tremors” fan, as “Tremors 6” almost seemed to enter development in response to an announcement that Kevin Bacon was reprising his role as Val McKee in a “Tremors“-related mini-series…I personally doubted the Kevin Bacon project would ever happen, especially following the debacle that was the previous “Tremors” TV show, but then we learned that the pilot was already completed and they even managed to bring back Fred Ward as Earl, with this news coming out around the same time “Tremors 6” got its official title and release date! Fans were thrilled…for a moment. Unfortunately, Syfy ended up passing on the mini-series…and we ended up getting “Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell“…Was the trade worth it? We shall see! Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) has fallen on hard times, as the IRS has seized all of his property, he seems to be suffering from a Graboid related illness AND his son Travis is played by Jamie Kennedy. His woes are interrupted when he’s summoned to the…arctic…to face Graboids…in the arctic? YAY! As important as the desert setting has been to the franchise, I think we’ve reached a point in the saga where a new aesthetic is required. The Graboids need a new playground and the thought of them prowling in the snow sounds like a lot of fun and can lead to many unique scenarios…like having ONE scene utilize the setting before Global Warming melts all of the snow, reducing the arctic into a desert wasteland…Wait, what? “A Cold in Hell” opens with a Graboid attack on the ice, but apparently it has all melted by the time our heroes arrive and the scientists have to explain to us multiple times that they’re in the middle of an ‘arctic summer’…meaning we get the same f@cking kinds of locations as we got before, except with a ‘colder’ color scheme…WHY TEASE US WITH A CHANGE IN SCENERY IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO CHANGE THE SCENERY. Filming actually took place in Cape Town, Africa, in the same area that “Tremors 5” was filmed. What little snow we’re given is CGI. As much as I hate to this…”A Cold Day in Hell” is probably the worst of the franchise.
Whereas “Tremors 5: Bloodlines” downplayed the comedy in favor of horror, “A Cold Day in Hell” downplays the horror in favor of comedy…Bad comedy…As in the “I kind of miss the humor from Tremors 3 and 4” kind of bad comedy…Now you might be thinking that such a statement is redundant when Jamie Kennedy is in your cast, but he is far from the worst part of this movie. The dialogue is so aggressively juvenile that I grew embarrassed for the actors, who were already admittedly embarrassing themselves with their questionable performances. The acting is incredibly broad all around, presumably in a desperate and failing attempt to make these lines “funny”, so I don’t think the cast is to blame as much as the directors “creative” choices are. Even Michael Gross, who is still easily the best part of the film, sometimes would dial it up to obnoxious levels. What’s especially tragic is that I suspect the filmmakers were trying to insert the ‘heart’ that was lacking in its predecessor, because at least there are efforts to give these characters personalities…They might not be compelling personalities, but the characterizations of the supporting cast stood out more than the equivalents in “Tremors 5“. But they’re all irredeemably annoying, almost as annoying as the constant name dropping and references to the original movie. I HATE THIS RELIANCE ON NOSTALGIA, as all it does it remind me of happier times while I was watching better films and this one won’t shut up about the first “Tremors“. One character is the daughter of Val and Rhonda and they throw so much shade at the (off-screen) Val that I seriously suspect they were trying to undercut the proposed mini-series, as I can’t imagine why else it would be there in such an abundance. One line near the end makes a comment about how Val just barges in when not invited and maybe that’s how the producers feel about Kevin Bacon’s mini-series? I dunno, but it was distracting either way. One of the problems with the script is that the cast is simply too big and a lot of the characters make other characters seem unnecessary to the story. Why did they feel the need to bring back Travis (Jamie Kennedy)? Another character fulfills the ‘younger, noisy, scrappy, rebel’ archetype and this new guy is so f@cking terrible that I found myself appreciating Travis in all of his Jamie Kennedy glory. Furthermore, it’s as if the movie wants to do a ‘Father-Child’ bonding subplot with Burt and Valerie McKee (Jamie-Lee Money), except they’re already doing that with Burt and Travis… adding more to my convictions that Valerie was only created to take shots at Kevin Bacon. It’s not like most of this cast is designed to be Graboid food either, as the kill count is surprisingly minimal amongst the named characters. All of these additional names and faces only ensure that everyone is equally undeveloped and this stings more with Travis, because I suspect he’s supposed to be the heir to the franchise. But throughout the middle block, he’s constantly fading into the background, only standing out when he’s alone with Burt. For the record, while I still feel like Jamie Kennedy is miscast, his acting is fine. He seems to be taking the material a little more seriously than his co-stars, so has a few moments where he sold me on the drama of the situation. His humor might’ve never made me laugh, but it didn’t take me out of the moment either. He has good chemistry with Michael Gross and I…never thought I would say this…I actually wish he had more to do.
The Graboids are rendered using CGI and since I am in the gentle part of this review, I will concede that the special effects were usually pretty good. The editing gets clunky whenever the characters have to interact with the effects, but there are a few cool visuals that rise above the low budget. Director Don Michael Paul arguably saved the franchise with his work on “Tremors 5“, but everything good he contributed to that movie is absent here. There’s no visual style to speak of, whereas he had previously showcased moody lighting, flashy shots and an impressive sense of scale. The change in color scheme only makes the locale look incredibly dull. The creature designs are reminiscent of “Tremors 5” and strangely, the story doesn’t have them evolve into anything even though evolution is mentioned, but their appearances are mostly lackluster. When they show up, there isn’t any major reveal or fanfare, they’re just…there…I still hate how they jump out of the ground, as it makes no sense and you start to wonder why they aren’t doing this when characters are left stranded on a car or a small pile of rocks. Then you start to wonder why you’re attributing logic to a movie where Burt attempts beat a Graboid at a game of ‘tug of war’ with a victim, when he could’ve easily shot or sliced the tentacle and saved a life…This movie is f@cking dumb…There isn’t any suspense for a multitude of reasons, ranging from a lack of build-up, plot convenient stupidity and an overdose of bad comedy. Other than Gross and Kennedy, the rest of the cast don’t seem to be taking the story seriously, even when discussing their friends dying, watching their friends dying or facing the prospect of dying themselves. This is a franchise that always been dipped in humor, but in the past, the comedy would be scaled back whenever someone was in danger, so we could experience the tension. If these characters don’t act like they’re afraid, why should the audience be afraid for them? From a technical perspective, “Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell” is a step down from “Tremors 5: Bloodlines“, but it’s still a cut above “Tremors 3“…Yet it’s also worse because “Tremors 3” had a likable cast and a certain amount of charm in spite of its shitty special effects. “A Cold Day in Hell” smells like budget cuts, compromises and a lack of inspiration…and yet we were given this instead of Kevin Bacon’s mini-series…It is a strange, frustrating and confusing time to be a “Tremors” fan…
The “Tremors” franchise taken a beating over the years, but it is impressive that it’s managed to stay on its feet after all this time. Lose your star? You give the next billed actor a promotion. Lose the budget? You get creative with how you use your production values. Lose the people who got creative with how they used the production values? You give the franchise a budget. I should point that there is no real consistency amongst fan opinions of the sequels. Some prefer “Tremors 6: A Cold Day in Hell” to “Tremors 5: Bloodlines“, others think “Tremors 3: Back to Perfection” embodies all of the cult appeal that the film series represents, so think it’s the best sequel. Some HATE “Tremors 2: Aftershocks” because of Grady, while the TV show also seems to be a case of love-or-hate it. Some like all of the sequels equally, while others loathe each of them. The only thing us fans seem to agree on is that the first “Tremors” is the best…because it is…The movie is a cult classic and there is no challenging that. So just because I feel a certain way, it doesn’t mean that you will have an identical reaction. I personally champion the entirety of this franchise because even when it embarrasses itself and makes missteps, I never know what the filmmakers are going to next. All of them, even the worst entries, have something of value…and that something is usually Michael Gross as Burt. Even when what surrounds him is shit, he clearly respects the role, the material he’s given and the overarching saga…and that respect is mutual. The film series gives him the right platform for him to really perform, showcasing his range and charisma. Once Gross is finished with the franchise, I think it will run out of gas…until it receives the inevitable hard reboot. But for now, I think I can endure another “A Cold Day in Hell“, as long as it continues to be built around Burt Gummer. Yet I still REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to see Kevin Bacon’s proposed mini-series. The leaked trailer looked awesome! GIVE IT TO ME! GIVE IT TO ME NOW! Or at least have “Tremors 7” take place in space…Actually, GIVE THAT TO ME! GIVE THAT TO ME NOW!
Oh and if you’re wondering, “Tremors” is probably my 3rd favorite movie of all time, behind “The Thing (1982)” and “Jaws“…Or maybe it’s my fourth, because “Jurassic Park” is up there too…Okay, I will never compile a real list of my favorite movies of all time, as the order changes every 10 seconds, but know that “Tremors” is up there! Along with “Carnosaur 3: Primal Species“!
TREMORS: SHRIEKER ISLAND (2020)
(Directed by Don Michael Paul)
(Written by Brian Brightly and Don Michael Paul)
(Starring Michael Gross, Jon Heder and Richard Brake)
“Tremors: Shrieker Island” is a solid, middle ground entry within the franchise, being a thankful step up from the crappy “Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell“, without ever really standing out as exceptional either. Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) is recruited by a scientist (Jon Heder) to kill some graboids on a tropical island, where scientist-turned-big game hunter Bill (Richard Drake) has bred them to be even more deadly. I wouldn’t describe the action as especially thrilling, the suspense as particularly nail biting or the comedy as notably funny, but they’re all serviceable. The CGI is pretty good, about on par with the last two sequels and the filmmakers do some decent stuff with the sound design. There are some amusing lines and reactions, although I hated when they’d lampshade the derivative nature of the thrills, so the moment you notice that the movie is ripping off “Predator“, someone will say something like “So it’s just like Predator“. They actually even steal a line from “Godzilla (1998)“, which… has to be a first… I did appreciate how the jokes never derailed the tension though. The cast did an admirable job at making cracks, while selling the audience on their nervousness and fear in the presence of monsters. Michael Gross is in top form and the new cast is pretty solid too, but I never thought I’d say this… The story required Jamie Kennedy to reprise his role as Travis. I actually liked Jon Heder a little bit more, but it’s clear that he’s filling in for Kennedy and the drama on hand required Burt Gunner’s actual son and not just a surrogate one. The ending left me conflicted, as it both gave me the ‘feels’ and yet… not the kind of ‘feels’ that I want to experience in a “Tremors” sequel. I liked the idea behind Richard Brake’s character, as he’s someone who could either develop into an anti-hero or descend into villainy, but I thought he was under-utilized. Nevertheless, his scenes are still pretty entertaining and “Tremors: Shrieker Island” as a whole is pretty entertaining. It moves at a good pace and when the end credits were rolling, I suddenly felt a wave of nostalgia and adoration towards this franchise wash over me. Considering how “Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell” and the collapse of the mini-series left me so disillusioned with the brand, “Tremors: Shrieker Island” was kind of what I needed.