I’ve seen other positive reviews of Ron Underwood’s Tremors. One of these reviews pretty much gushed about the movie, and I understand why.
So it’s almost a challenge to say anything new about it. However, after watching it on Netflix after some years of absence, I realized that this truly is one of the best creatures features out there. There are two main factors here: The realistic characters and the uniqueness of the creatures. As an obvious point, you have the great chemistry between Valentine (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward), two “everyman” handymen itching to finally leave the dead-end town of Perfection, Nevada. However, their plans get waylaid by a few unusual deaths, caused by some unusual creatures.

What creatures they are! In effect, the “Graboids” in Tremors are like land sharks. In fact, that is apparently what writers Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson were thinking when they first envisioned them. Years later, a movie with the actual title of Land Shark was unleashed, but it’s probably not too unfair to assume that it doesn’t match Tremors in quality.

Does Anybody Hate “Tremors”?

That’s an interesting question to me because I can see Tremors not being everyone’s cup of tea. Still, I can’t imagine someone watching Tremors and saying, “Man, that movie was a total pile of shit!” It’s just a likable movie. It’s humorous and at times potentially scary (especially for young kids), but it’s not really a film that seems to try too hard. It flows rather naturally from scene to scene, and it’s fun to try to examine what’s going on in a Graboid’s hypothetical mind. Obviously, these are some rather smart creatures.

Where exactly do they come from and how do they survive? That becomes a sort of mysterious element of the movie, which puts it perfectly in line with other sci-fi classics like The Blob or The Thing.

I also can’t imagine people especially hating the movie’s characters — other than perhaps Robert Jayne as Melvin, a character designed to be annoying. I even like Reba McEntire’s character! There’s also something about a movie that arrived in the early ’90s. It was almost a transitional period. Certain movies then still had 1980s qualities but had those hard-to-define 1990s sensibilities. Then again, it’s also one of those efforts that can totally stand on its own. Making too many comparisons to other movies doesn’t really do it justice. It is alive in its own time and space, much like the Graboids themselves.

Creative Problem Solving

Tremor” has many things going for it, including the burgeoning relationship between Valentine and Rhonda (Finn Carter). However, one of my favorite elements is how the action ties directly into the story. Yes, some things might require suspension of disbelief, but the action-story link is surprisingly solid. At various times, the characters must alter their behavior to avoid detection by the Graboids. They have to climb on their roofs, pole vault, keep as quiet as possible, and adapt to the creature’s own growing intelligence. To an extent, it reminds me of the classic “Lava on the ground game” so many of us play as kids. How would you survive that?

There are a few explosions here and there in the movie, but those are courtesy of survivalists Burt (Michael Gross) and Heather (McEntire) and aren’t exactly overblown “Hollywood” explosions. We also see the consequences of being caught off guard, such as the Graboids using the earth to swallow full-sized automobiles. Pretty cool stuff! Like any good creature feature, survival depends largely on intelligence and skill, with a dash of added luck. That’s what keeps this movie fresh…although, let’s not forget: The lives ones smell worse than the dead ones!

What are your thoughts on Tremors? Get up on your roof and quietly signal us in the comments!

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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