Let’s stand still.
Tremors is a classic horror/comedy that manages to pull off both genres well—a rare feat indeed. This movie is considered a classic by many and is also the favorite film of a lot of horror buffs for good reason.
We follow workmen Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) who are stuck in the small town of Perfection working odd jobs to pay the bills. Both dream of better things, but nothing seems to go right for them. They decide to finally leave town once and for all, but suddenly townsfolk start to die. Their efforts to leave town becomes a mission to notify the authorities, but something seems to be keeping them trapped.
A young graduate student Rhonda (Finn Carter) notices strange seismic readings during her research throughout the valley. Fellow townsfolk also seem to know something is amiss. Doomsday preppers Burt (Michael Gross) and Heather (Reba McEntire—seriously) seem somewhat excited at the danger. The rest of the town, not so much.
It is discovered that what is causing the readings and the deaths are the same thing: giant underground worm monsters. These massive creatures sense vibrations in the ground and are heading right for the town.
Trapped and without anyway to reach the outside world, the town must band together and figure out a way to survive. Can they make it the stony mountains before the worms find them?
We don’t make movies like this anymore. We have a loving nod to 1950s creature features, an adherence to practical effects, likable characters, and a strong script that refuses to take itself too seriously. The humor comes naturally as the town reacts to the danger with concern and realism, but the realism allows for jokes to be made. Sarcasm from Val and Earl elevates the scenes without detracting from the adventure.
I don’t know why monster movies decided to not be fun anymore. Watching the latest Godzilla entry is a chore as it has to be so serious and pseudoscientific. Here, Rhonda makes a theory, and we just go with it. Questions of how these things can be or whatever are simply pushed aside in favor of giving us an adventure that leans into the natural campiness without ever looking down its’ nose at the genre. (Seriously, anyone wanting to write a monster movie should study this one).
As with most films that rely on practical effects instead of CGI, this one has aged well. The monsters look interesting and threatening. We rarely get a look at a whole one alive, and many of the kills are done offscreen. The only time the effects lag is when it is clear they couldn’t move the creature fast enough to be threatening. However, this scene is also when we see Burt and Heather get a chance to use all their firepower, so it is still awesome.
The movie just works. It is a fun time that harkens back to a period where films allowed themselves to be fun but were still seriously made. The care and attention to detail in the sets is excellent. Sure, we do have some editing errors (mainly in injuries), but the dusty old town feels like a dusty old town. The quality of the sets, design, costumes, and filming are higher than most films in this genre. Even with the small errors it is just a good time.
I would love to see a return to this sort of movie. Something with a good production and decent actors (sorry SyFy, you’re not filling this void but rather keeping it alive). This one is an absolute must watch and one of hell of a good time.
I wonder if the sequels are any good?