In this modern age the monster has taken a back seat. Often now some ghastly force or crazed madman takes the role of what was once the position of monsters. But my readers, the monsters have never truly left, they have been waiting underfoot.
Tremors was released in 1990 and, if described as a film, it is a monster horror comedy. The film is basically a love letter to the old creature features. However, unlike many modern such examples this one is a genuinely good film and not some crappy meta film that is just winking at itself about how cheesy the monster is. Instead, the creatures are well realized both through great practical special effects but also well thought out as the workings of the creatures are explained through the film. But let’s get to the plot.
The setting of the film is Perfection in Nevada. A small.. very small community (14 people in fact) surrounded by what can best be described as a desert valley. We are introduced right away to our leads Valentine McKee and Earl Bassett played by Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward peeing. The two are handymen who feel trapped in the valley and want to get out living their lives. As they drive back into town they bump into Geology student Rhonda LeBeck played by Finn Carter who asks about if there’s been people using explosives as she got some strange readings.
In town we meet the rest of the cast, who I won’t be going over except for the single most important Burt Gummer played by Michael Gross and his wife. Burt is a doomsday prepper and conspiracy theorist and they moved into the valley because of its remoteness.
As the two leads finally are fed up of the literal shit, they are about to exit the valley when they find a man who has climbed up a power line, thinking he’s drunk they go to help him down only to find he died of exposure and dehydration. More strange that meant he went up there and refused to come down. We get our first hint and direct kill when the farmer is suddenly pulled into the ground and in a scene that haunted me as a child our leads pull off the hat on the ground only to find his head gazing dead up at them.
We get our first image of the monsters a bit later when after the duo return to town they find a strange eel like creature wrapped round their back wheel. Later when on horseback (the road out got blocked by debris) they find that the eels come out of the ground, only for suddenly it to be revealed the eels are in fact just the tongues of an even larger creature.
Later on these creatures will receive the name graboid and they are a great piece of work which is aided by the fact they aren’t CG but practical special effects so they were actually there. They are subterranean large creatures that can move very fast through the dirt and detect objects through vibrations. Increased danger comes as they get smarter the longer they are alive and begin to take down the measures that kept our leads safe.
The film is a cult classic both for its creatures but also being a fun film with some good humour without it having to lampshade tropes of monster films. It’s funny on its own terms not by trying to deconstruct old elements.
Thanks to its cult classic status the film is very easy to get ahold of, I for the purposes of reviewing it rewatched it on Netflix but you can easily find cheap DVDs or see it and one of its many sequels on TV.
Of course it is a 12 and if you see it on TV as a small child like I did… well expect to have an aversion to walking on non-hard ground for a few years.