Tremors (1990)
January 19, 2020 5:34 PM - Subscribe

IMDB: Hick handymen Val McKee and Earl Bassett can barely eke out a living in the Nevada hamlet of Perfection, so they decide to leave town -- despite an admonition from a shapely seismology coed who's picking up odd readings on her equipment. Before long, Val and Earl discover what's responsible for those readings: 30-foot-long carnivorous worms with a proclivity for sucking their prey underground.

This was prompted by an arstechnica post, "Tremors turns 30: The most perfect B movie creature feature ever made," to which I can only say that sometimes a headline is just pure distilled truth.

Note: If you are nostalgically looking up people in Tremors, you will learn that Finn Carter (Rhonda the grad student) has had a hard time of it and was recently-ish picked up for nontrivial felonies. Let's not gawk?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace (28 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
One of those movies that's sort of buried under the weight of its endless and declining-in-giveashitness sequels, but what bad can you say about Tremors?

None bad.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:35 PM on January 19 [8 favorites]


I reluctantly watched Tremors 5 at a party not too long ago, but I ended up enjoying it. Still, the original is unparalleled. So ridiculously enjoyable.
posted by Quonab at 6:29 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


If you [pole vault] without rhythm, you won't attract the worm.
posted by pykrete jungle at 6:38 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Tremors is currently streaming on Netflix, DirecTV, and Starz via Amazon in the US.
posted by Etrigan at 6:57 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


My oldest son loved this movie as a young child - he would request to watch the "wormy movie." He also has a fondness for the sequels, while acknowledging that they cannot measure up to the first.

I plan to use this in one of my movie series at the local Community College soon. I just want everyone to know about it.
posted by jkosmicki at 10:07 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


An important film for the Kevin Bacon game.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:38 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]


I always think of Tremors as being Bad Day at Black Rock with graboids in place of Spencer Tracey.
posted by rongorongo at 1:15 AM on January 20 [6 favorites]


I love this movie so much and it rides the line of horror and comedy extremely well.

Tremors does a great job of creating a sense of place and people. Lots of small charming characters who are all clearly a part of tight-knit (if not entirely harmonious) community. Everyone has a reason to be in Perfection. The horror works because the people are relatable.

This film holds a special place of honour in that niche horror comedy genre of "small town is invaded by X, community comes together to fight it" of Arachnophobia, 8 Legged Freaks, Slither etc.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:11 AM on January 20 [6 favorites]


I loved this movie . The amazing thing is that the sequels (at least two and three) are almost as enjoyable as the original. Truly a rare thing.
posted by hoodrich at 12:09 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


This film is a legitimate classic, and the sequels, while never quite reaching the original's charm, more or less accomplish what they are shooting for.

In a moment of serendipity, I also today found out that we nearly had a Tremors PS2 game.
posted by subocoyne at 1:29 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


I saw this one million years ago when I had an astoundingly high fever, and it was perfect. I haven't watched it since then because I don't want to ruin my memories.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:24 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


This is one of my favorite light/silly/good time films. (I am a particular fan of horror/comedy as a genre blend.) The worms are a great enemy, despite them deciding to stick with the godawful name of graboids. I even remember the original posters advertising the film and how they showed only one of the tongues blown up to large size threatening the humans from under the ground so as not to give away the twist of the "Nope, just one!" scene.
posted by Scattercat at 6:42 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


BROKE INTO THE WRONG GODDAMNED REC ROOM THIS TIME, DIDN’T YA?!?
posted by praemunire at 7:00 PM on January 20 [13 favorites]


So glad to be reminded of this. I had fun watching RoboCop with my 17 year old nephew when he visited last, so this should be a great follow up.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:21 PM on January 20


I feel like recent movies, really need to work on how to do characters that you actually care about and are interested in. A lot of it comes down to having an emotional connection. And that comes down to actually showing emotions.

I look at movies like independence day, and compare to recent big budget special effect disaster movies, and the thing missing is well drawn characters who actually show their feelings.

Tremor has that in spades.

When they defeat a monster or win a fight or get away, they are actually happy about their success, instead of being blase or deadpan. When things go badly, they are worried, or upset, or scared. Doesn't even need to be the main character, but it helps when it is.

That's a large part of why the MCU is better than the DC Movies (save WW) in my view, even though a lot of the villains were often paper thin. The characters care about stuff, so we care.
posted by gryftir at 7:26 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


That's a good point gryftir. Movie heroes are generally now such badasses that they experience no emotion other than grim determination, and can't be bothered to even turn around to witness the explosions they're walking away from. In Tremors, most of the cast spends the entire movie either confused, angry or terrified.

I saw this in the theater when I was a maybe 12 or so and even then was surprised that it wasn't terrible. And inexplicably, it holds up after a couple of decades? It's confusing, if it's possible to make a low-budget horror/comedy with a pretty thin premise and have it come out pretty enjoyable, why do they usually end up so boring and bad? It's not like it's some amazing script, or a wunderkind director or actor making their first stop before moving on greatness. It's just an unpretentious, unambitious, goofy thriller that happens to be really enjoyable. Weird.
posted by skewed at 8:58 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I love this movie unabashedly.

Earl Bassett: What kind of fuse is that?
Burt Gummer: Cannon fuse.
Earl Bassett: What the hell do you use it for?
Burt Gummer: My cannon.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:08 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]


if it's possible to make a low-budget horror/comedy with a pretty thin premise and have it come out pretty enjoyable, why do they usually end up so boring and bad?

It's the difference between sincerely trying to make a good/fun/interesting movie while still coming in on (the shortish) time and on (the smallish) budget, and just trying to get something minimally acceptable out the door for the lowest cost. It's the difference that just giving a shit instead of running a cynical exercise makes.

You can see a lot of both kinds of movies in Corman's vast output, since he didn't seem to care much what people were doing as long as they came in on his very short time and under his very low budget.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:15 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Can we mention that the poster is a Jaws parody/ rip-off?

subocoyne: I also today found out that we nearly had a Tremors PS2 game.

Another near-miss: Tremors TV series "revival" (Wikipedia). The pilot was filmed in New Mexico in late 2017 (ABQ Journal), but Kevin Bacon's dream of revisiting the world of Perfection will not become a reality (KB Instagram post).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:00 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


what bad can you say about Tremors? None bad.

Well, I mean, the "oh no, the monster ate my pants" scene was pretty gratuitous.

But other than that, none bad.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:10 PM on January 21


But I love that they didn’t put Rhonda in impractically sexy underwear for that scene. She’s in regular boring old white cotton ‘granny panties’, and the camera doesn’t go all weirdly male-gazy on her during the sequence, as I recall.
posted by oh yeah! at 1:36 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Must have seen this when I was about 10 or 11, and it was a perfect "first proper grown up movie" - gross, funny, rude.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:20 AM on January 22


I love this movie so much and watched it MANY times as pre-teen/teenagers. It's been years since I've watched it, but I see my local library has it available for streaming. I'll have to re-watch it this evening.

Even the sequels aren't entirely terrible, but by the third installment they've fully embraced their "B-movie" status and aren't even pretending to take themselves seriously anymore. I mean, common, "ass-blasters?" Really?

The original is wonderful, though. It's a low budget monster movie but the acting is such that we care about the characters and the stakes feel real, despite the fairly silly premise.
posted by asnider at 10:27 AM on January 22


awww this is the first movie my mr supermedusa and I ever watched together when we were dating (on DVD, not in theater) so romantic!!
posted by supermedusa at 10:40 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


gryftir: "I look at movies like independence day, and compare to recent big budget special effect disaster movies, and the thing missing is well drawn characters who actually show their feelings. "

Huh, "well drawn characters" is not how I would describe Independence Day.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:13 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Val to Earl on the drive back to Perfection, after realizing the only road out of town in blocked: “We decided to leave town just one damn day too late!”

Also here for some love for Reba McEntire and Michael Gross.
Burt looks at his bomb shelter for perhaps the last time:
“Food for five years, a thousand gallons of gas, air filtration, water filtration, Geiger counter. Bomb shelter! Underground... goddamn monsters!”
posted by TrishaU at 10:06 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Alamo Drafthouse has been having Tremors movie parties this month. Highly recommended, even came with a little Nevada "UZI 4U" license plate keychain as a memento.
posted by rewil at 10:46 AM on January 24


awww this is the first movie my mr supermedusa and I ever watched together when we were dating (on DVD, not in theater) so romantic!!

...Mr. Door and I watch this every Valentine's Day. I swear we're normal(-ish).
posted by cellar door at 5:43 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


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