6- “Tremors” #52PickUp

One of my absolute all-time favorites as a kid was put to the #52PickUp test today. How did it fare?


Pretty damn good. Tremors (buy it here) was a throwback to the old monster movies of the 50s and as a result, feels like a classic in its own right.

Tremors was a long-gestating idea. The co-writers S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock had pitched the idea for quite some time, but it was only after they sold Short Circuit that they were then asked, “What else ya got?” And so an old note from Wilson’s Navy days led to this.

Tremors follows Earl (Fred Ward) and Valentine (Kevin Bacon) as two handymen looking to get the hell out of Dodge, or in this case Perfection Valley (Population 14). They finally muster up the courage to do so, but as they are set to leave, strange occurrences mount in the secluded town. Val mentions how close they were en route to solve the problem: “We decided to leave this town one damn day too late.”

The problem they come across is a pack of 30-foot subterranean worms the size of whales with snake-like tongues. Ouch. These behemoths are sensitive to the vibrations caused by any type of noise above ground like: water, footsteps, and pogo sticks.

Damn kids and their Sony Walkman cassette tapes!

The number of townspeople dwindle rapidly as the Graboids feast, and it’s up to Earl, Val (and Burt) to stop them dead in their tracks.

The film was followed by four, count ’em, FOUR direct-to-video sequels  and thirteen episodes of a series that spanned the twenty five years since the original’s release.

I’ve seen it all (with the exception of the majority of the short-lived series), and can honestly say that the first is still the best. And the second is by far the superior sequel.

What did you say?
“What did he just say?!”

My original plan was to watch all of the movies and give a blurb on each, but Good Lord, I need more time in the day!

When the Val and Earl end up stranded on a rock in the middle of the desert with some of the other townspeople, they have to take extreme measures and use their brains to outsmart the remaining two Graboids.


Clearly, this film launched a successful series of films, each more worst than the next. But with rumors surrounding another film or TV series starring none other than Kevin Bacon himself… That trend may turn itself around like a Graboid changing directions underground. Ouch, that’s bad.

Where/ when did I first see it?

The film made little at the box office and though it seemed like a failure, was able to make a killing in the home video and syndication markets. So it made sense that I first saw this film with my Dad on the Good ol’ USA Network in the mid-90s.

As soon as I had seen this, I was hooked. You know, looking back on these formative years, I’m glad to have had these inspirations and hope to do the same for my kids one day.

No more!
And potentially not scar them for life.

How does it hold up?

I cannot stress this enough, but practical effects will always beat visual effects. Every innovation in digital technology only ages every film before it. Making puppets and real, tangible creatures who reflect the light around them naturally will always look real. The Thing still looks real because they didn’t have any special effects.

Sure, the CGI world is advancing so fast that soon, we will most likely get incredibly close to practical effects, but it never will look the same. The same truth goes for film vs. digital recording. It took digital so long to catch up with film quality, and it still leaves something to be desired.

What did I like about it and Why?

Besides Gremlins, Tremors was my first monster movie. There was something about building up anticipation of seeing the monster– POV of its view, lurking behind dirt and bushes; seeing its aftermath; seeing only one of its tongues; and then finally seeing the “mother trucker” itself.

Naturally this was taken directly from Jaws, but that only proves its effectiveness. Monsters are meant to be hidden, only for a while and until the right moment.

Prolapsed Graboid
Prolapsed Graboid

Not only was Tremors a great monster movie, but it was also a great mix of humor, horror, and action. I tend to fixate towards these perfect blends of genres (see Deadpool).

Lessons Learned: 

  1. I wish these were real creatures.
  2. Kevin Bacon could revitalize the series.
  3. Burt Gummer is a badass.



Where Can You See it?

Check out Tremors on CanIStream.It?

-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)


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