I just happened to catch one of my favorite creature-feature films on cable this morning and I had forgotten just how much fun this film was and is to still watch. I am talking about 1990′s horror-comedy Tremors by director Ron Underwood (who would follow it up with the very successful and funny City Slickers a year later) and starring the comedic duo of Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward. I was still in high school when I saw this in the theaters and even then this film had me from the get-go.
Tremors is a throwback to all the Saturday matinee creature-features and monster mash films that were huge during the 50′s and through the 60′s. It’s plot was simple enough that even a little kid could keep up with what was going on. We had a small, rundown mining town in the middle of nowhere (it always happens to be one of those small desert or valley towns which dotted the landscape once the national interstate was completed) whose fortunes have seen better days, hell better decades from the looks of it. The town has its cast of characters with Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon’s roles of Earl and Val the two main leads. We even get long-time genre actor Victor Wong in a supporting role as the town’s only store owner and also it’s two-bit hustler always looking to find a new way to make a buck. One of the funniest roles goes to Michael Gross (the dad in the 80′s hit family show Family Ties) who, with Reba McEntire as his wife, play some crazy-ass survivalists who try fighting off the creatures of this feature the giant, underground worms the survivors have dubbed “Graboids” for their propensity to grab people and animals with prehensile tentacle like appendages which shoot out from their mouths.
No, Tremors wasn’t some live-action version of the ever popular hentai, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers of the film were subconsconsciously influenced by them. What the film ended up being was one of the funnier horror comedies which ended the 80′s and announced the 90′s. It was also one of the last few great non-CGI creature features to come out of Hollywood. The Graboids were definitely animatronic and rubber-suited props, but they moved and looked real that one didn’t question whether they were real or not. It would be these creatures who would end up the stars and highlight of this film (the ensemble cast a good second) and follow-up sequels would and could never live up to it. It didn’t help that the sequels ended up using too much CGI which just ruined the illusion built-up by the original.
So, if you ever feel bored and suddenly see that one of the many basic cable channels are showing this little horror-comedy gem from the 1990′s I recommend you watch it with snacks and drinks on hand. There are many ways to make one stop being bored by watching something on the “Tele” and I say Tremors is one of those ways.