When watching the entire Tremors movies back to back, it’s fairly easy to know what the master plan the Graboids is. These worms are Hunter gatherers. That is, eat anything that’s warm blooded and take no shit from anyone else! These critters are the backbone of the series and I cannot help but want to cuddle a stuffed doll of one of them. Thankfully, these taxidermy versions are safe.
Part of what makes this series appealing is its humour. Another is in getting to know Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) as he survives many encounters with these ground burrowing creatures. He’s the only recurring character willing to fight them. Some migrated away from Perfection, Nevada and others are subspecies. As the threat becomes worse, not even the US Army has the tactical knowhow he has to defeat them. Part of this franchise’s longevity has to do with how it never forgets its monster movie roots and B-Movie clutches. The fetish moments are a cute touch, and thankfully these bits are never over the top gross. This threat can be serious to all of humanity, and the latest film shows there are forces interested in using them for their own covert ops.
I’m dreading the day they turn those tongues into self aware creatures. I can imagine the Goa’uld from Stargate SG-1 are somewhere along the same evolutionary paths as these grubs. To see them start to possess people can be bad! I’m hopeful this will not happen. Universal Pictures holds the rights to this work. I did not notice the latest film did not see creators S. S. Wilson, Brent Maddock or Ron Underwood directly involved. While the later films do not have the same oomph as the original, they are at least worth one watch. Burt is the most developed character; Gross’ commitment to playing this crazed hunter must be noted.
The following is my ranking of all six films:
Either this film was the start of the Six Degrees of Kevin bacon or it simply gave this young yahoo the continued cult status he did not necessarily need in the 90s. His rise to fame was in Friday the 13th. Honestly, the way this film played with the tropes that defined many a creature feature in the 50s was what gave this film part of its unique the charm. The lovable and laughable characters we meet rounds out this piece.
Tremors 4, The Legend Begins
Eventually, that origin story needs to be told. Just how well it works depends on its execution. With Tremors, to show how the town of Perfection was born out of “Rejection” — and that Burt Gummer’s great grandfather also had to deal with those worms — helped give this world “they” live in a sense of historical drama. It was still kooky, but the fact this Western had that weirdness to it made this aficionado of this subgenre in stitches!
Tremors 5, Bloodlines
This film is fun because it takes the Survivorman concept and sets Burt as the star! It’s playing with today’s love for reality television and present it not from that first person perspective but still from behind that fourth wall. Part of this film’s appeal is that the adventure now goes into South Africa. Audiences learn that these Graboids are everywhere, and it’s discovered they do operate with a hive mind. A queen worm exists and she needs to be taken down!
Tremors 2, Aftershocks
This film is basically the first movie but with all the charm, wit and gore cut in half. Part of this film’s appeal is that fans get to learn how these Graboids biologically function. They get a bit of character (ahem, monster development), but I hoped for more plotting than continued wanton destruction. At least I got to watch Earl and Grady kill these worms with remote controlled cars rigged with explosives is the highlight. Oh, those rednecks!
Tremors 3, Back to Perfection
The action returns to the town where audiences first met these worms and now the US Government wants to get involved. They want to declare them as an endangered species and Burt says they all must be killed. This film suffers from the Star Trek 3 curse. When half the jokes are recycled, this work is more of a miss instead of a must-see.
This work was developed as a direct to video product. There was no intention to continue in the big screen where these worms can shine.
Tremors 6, A Cold Day in Hell
Released in May of this year, I had the feeling it was best to start watching the films from the beginning to prepare me for the sixth film in this series. So far, like the Star Wars franchise, fatigue is starting to set in. This work takes a few cues from the past films, sets Burt up as a victim. He’s contacted a virus after one incident with a Graboid. But up North, these worms prove to be very resilient to extreme weather and can attack just anywhere. In Nunavut, scientists out to collect ice core samples get attacked after accidentally waking a few up. This time, DARPA gets involved; they want to turn them into some kind of weapon. After six films, some originality must be offered than to rehash some ideas. At least the character development is fitting. We get to see father and son truly bond.
As long as star Michael Gross is willing, the cantankerous Burt will be at the forefront of this war. The worms shall not inherit the Earth. If there are other monsters wandering this planet, as hinted at with this latest film, then I’m betting they will appear and be the worm’s natural predators. Something has to be feeding on them whenever they decide to surface. Could that be a Thunderbird?
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