It's really too bad that Tremors didn't do that well at the box-office upon it's release. This quirky, constantly funny, and entertaining throwback to 1950's monster movies deserved to be seen in theatres but thankfully, due to the power of home video, it found an audience and become a cult favourite - enough so that it would be followed by three direct-to-video sequels and a short-lived television series.
Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon star as the hapless heroes Val and Earl, two lazy handymen in the small town of Perfection, Nevada who have dreams of leaving the tiny town and making something of themselves in the big city. And they intend to do so only for their trip to get cut short when they find one of the local farmers dead from dehydration up one of the electrical towers. As if that wasn't bad enough soon a handful of people start disappearing - which leads to some pleasing scenes of a construction worker being dragged away attached to his jackhammer and one lady being sucked into the earth while inside her station wagon.
Finding out that all these disappearances and dead bodies that keep popping up are the work of some giant sandworm creatures who are living under the desert, Val and Earl become not-so-fearless leaders to the residents of Perfection as they have to try and stop the worms (who move fast and can sense vibrations in the ground) and make sure everyone in town stays alive even while they bicker with each other.
Marking the directorial debut of Ron Underwood (who would go on to do City Slickers and the much maligned 2002 bomb, The Adventures Of Pluto Nash), Tremors is a completely tongue-in-cheek horror/comedy that's packed with plenty of wisecracks, dopey situations, and off-beat characters. Underwood not only keeps this energetic, but he also gets good performances from his cast with Ward and Bacon showing a great chemistry in the two lead roles while Michael Gross (at the time best known for playing the dad on TV sitcom, Family Ties) and country singer Reba McEntire, in her first acting role, almost manage to steal the show as the gun crazed couple who live in a bunker-like home and are convinced it's all part of a government conspiracy.
Think Jaws only with giant worms and you'll get the idea of Tremors. It's easy to see that screenwriters Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson got their inspiration from Steven Spielberg's 1975 film (so much so that at one time the film's working title was "Land Sharks") as many of the creature attack scenes and minor plot points are similar, but it's there that the comparison ends as Maddock and Wilson's script never once takes itself seriously. And that's truly a good thing as they've managed to come up with a movie that's just plain fun.
Tremors won't scare you, it's just too damn funny for that, but if you're looking for some good laughs, decent creature effects, and some mild thrills then you're not likely to find much better out there. It's such agreeable entertainment and so appealing that even it's numerous follow-ups (which screenwriters Wilson and Maddock both had a hand in, even directing them) can't match it.
Followed by three sequels. (Chris Hartley, 11/12/05)
Directed By: Ron Underwood.
Written By: Brent Maddock, S.S. Wilson.
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross.