Tremors (USA, 1990) - Color, Director(s): Ron Underwood
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Approx. 96 min.
Z-rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Cheese Factor: 3 stars out of 5
Tremors wasn't a big hit during its theatrical run but gained popularity in the home video market where it tripled its box office gross in VHS sales and rentals. They played it on TV all the time when I was a kid and that's how I was first exposed to it. Growing up, I must've seen this movie at least a dozen times and it was probably my favorite monster movie aside from anything with Godzilla in it. This would often serve as an alternative to the "floor is lava" game where you had to get up on the sofa before you were pulled underground by a giant subterranean worm. The creature effects were done by none other than Amalgamated Dynamics (I mentioned them briefly in my review of The Thing) who created one of the coolest monsters ever. (since it's a Universal movie, the Graboid is technically a Universal Monster!)
The movie follows a couple of handymen, played by Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, who decide to leave their quiet little town of Perfection, Nevada. Unfortunately, the day they picked to leave town was the day a bunch of giant sandworms show up and start swallowing people. These "Graboids" as they're eventually named, burrow through the ground and hunt by sensing seismic vibrations in the ground. They have three snake-like tentacles for tongues that help to drag prey into their mouths and their appearance is similar to Mongolian Death Worms, a cryptid believed to live in the Gobi desert. Since they don't have any limbs, the only way to avoid being eaten by them is to climb up on a large rock or rooftop. These creatures are strong enough to pull a station wagon underground, intelligent enough to not fall for the same trick twice, and even set traps to catch their prey. They're also incredibly patient, sometimes waiting weeks for someone to come back down to the ground.
Nudity: None, although Finn Carter takes her pants off to avoid being eaten by a Graboid.
Gore: Most of the people who are killed are just pulled underground where they're devoured by the Graboids. They do manage to blow up a couple of them and their smelly guts rain down on everyone.
Awesome: Very. Much like Jaws, they don't show the monster right away. First we see something moving under the ground, then one of the snake-like tentacles attached to Kevin Bacon's truck, and finally the big reveal comes when one of the Graboids bursts up out of the ground. There are appearances from Victor Wong (Big Trouble in Little China) as a shop owner and a young Ariana Richards a couple years before Jurassic Park. Easily the best characters in the movie are Michael Gross (of Family Ties fame) and country music star Reba McEntire (in her film acting debut) as Burt and Heather Gummer, a couple of hardcore gun enthusiasts/survivalists/doomsday preppers. The scene where they use damn near every gun in their arsenal to kill a Graboid is best. Michael Gross really makes this franchise his own as he appears in every subsequent sequel, including the TV series, and eventually becomes the star. The 5th installment came out earlier this month on Blu-ray/DVD. This was the only one in the series to have a theatrical release, the rest of the franchise has been direct-to-video. They're all pretty fun to watch though, as long as you have a sense of humor. Marathon all 5 movies if you can!