Film Review: Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell (dir by Don Michael Paul)


The Graboids are back!

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, the Graboids are the giant, ravenous sandworms that were first introduced in the 1990 film, Tremors.  Graboids are always on the hunt for food and, over the course of the original film, four sequels, and one prequel, they’ve attacked and devoured a countless number of communities, all while helping to spread all sorts of comedic mayhem.  For whatever reason, the mere presence of a Grabboid tends to lead to human beings getting very quippy.

This year, the Graboids return for a sixth time with Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell.  This time, the Graboids are up in Canada and they’re eating a bunch of scientists.  Normally, Canada would be too cold for a Graboid infestation but apparently, climate change has altered the rules of the game.  That’s one good thing about climate change.  It can be used to explain away just about anything.  Why does Northern Canada look so sunny and warm?  Climate change!  Why are the Graboids no longer limited to the desert?  Climate Change!

Anyway, this is pretty much a typical Tremors sequel.  A bunch of people end up getting trapped in one location and are then picked off by the Graboids.  There’s some sinister scientists and bio-weapon subplot but those are mostly afterthoughts.  The film promises Graboids and, eventually, it delivers them.  Especially when compared to some of the other films in the franchise, A Cold Day In Hell is rather slowly paced and the CGI isn’t always as convincing as you might want it to be.  On the one hand, the film delivers pretty much what you would expect it to deliver.  On the other hand, it’s also rather bland.

Oh well.  At least Burt Gummer is back!

As any fan of the franchise can tell you, the Graboids are pretty much secondary to the presence of Burt Gummer.  Brilliantly played by Michael Gross, Burt is the only character to have appeared in not only every Tremors film but also the TV series as well.  (Okay, technically, the fourth film featured Burt’s great-grandfather but Hiram Gummer might as well have been Burt Gummer.)  Burt is a heavily armed doomsday prepper who lives out in the middle of the desert and who hates the government.  Though the IRS may just view him as someone who refuses to pay his taxes, fans of the franchise know that Burt is the world’s greatest Graboid hunter.

What is Burt’s appeal?  Well, some of it has to do with the fact that Burt is always honest and consistent.  It’s been 28 years since Burt was first introduced and, in that time, he has always loved guns and hated the government.  He doesn’t hold back on his views and he makes absolutely no apologies and that’s exactly the type of guy who you want by your side when you’re dealing with a bunch of killer sandworms.

In the end, though, Burt’s greatest appeal is that he’s a thowback.  If Tremors had been produced in the 21st Century, there’s no way that a character like Burt would have survived the movie.  His anti-government stance would have been viewed as being unpatriotic during the Bush and Obama years and his love of guns would have gotten the movie picketed by Shannon Watts and denounced on twitter by the writers at Slate and Vox.  The AV Club would declare the character to be problematic and Michael Gross would have to go on Colbert and personally apologize to everyone who was hurt by his performance.  But since the first Tremors was made way back in the 90s, Burt is allowed to thrive in all of his anti-PC glory.  At a time in which monster movies are dominated by grimly-written heroes and overly rational scientists, Burt is a reminder that films like this should, at the very least, attempt to be fun.

As for Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell, it was released on Netflix earlier this year and it premiered on SyFy last night.  It’s forgettable but at least Burt’s back.

Val’s Movie Roundup #13: Hallmark Edition


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Cupid, Inc. (2012) – Okay, who would have thought that Jamie Kennedy would actually be decent as Cupid? This is the guy who taught us how to survive a horror movie and was in Son Of The Mask (2005). But yep, he plays Cupid and does a good job. But he really isn’t a big part of the film all things considered. That falls to Joely Fisher. The deal is that she has to get a new couple together by Valentine’s Day, then she will find her true love. If Jamie Kennedy showed up and told me that, then I would probably ask him if I should see Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone (2005), but she takes him up on his offer. The rest can be boiled down to four words: It’s a Hallmark movie. Believe it or not, this is my first Valentine’s Day Hallmark movie, so I guess it’s the best one I have seen. I’ll tell you this, it’s much better than Gabe the Cupid Dog (2012).

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Fixing Pete (2011) – This one is kind of like Recipe For Love, but not as good. This has dark haired Brooke Burns who is tasked with making over a frat boy looking guy for his upcoming book tour. People often complain about female stereotypes, but this one has the male stereotypes in spades when we are introduced to Pete (Dylan Bruno). Luckily, that doesn’t last long and the two move closer and closer to each other. It’s nice, but if you can find Recipe For Love, then watch that instead.

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Murder 101: New Age (2008) – Once again it’s time for the Van Dykes to solve a murder. This time there are four of them. We’ve got Dick, Barry, Shane, and Carey. As the title suggests, the New Age movement plays a part here. Apparently, after The Nanny, Charles Shaughnessy joined the New Age movement. Basically there’s a room with him dead and gun in his hand while the only other people there are in a really deep meditation. So who killed him? It goes from there. I can’t believe it took till my third Murder 101 movie to realize that Barry Van Dyke’s character is not a cop, but a PI. Not sure then why the Van Dykes seem to just take over the investigation, but who cares. All that matters is that there is a scene where you get to see Dick Van Dyke play tennis on the Wii. When I saw that, I knew my life was complete. Actually, there are several humorous lines surrounding technology. Better than the mystery movies you get from Hallmark nowadays.

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Dad’s Home (2010) – Been awhile since I watched Mr. Mom (1983), but I think it’s probably quite similar. Except kill off the Mom and set it during this generation’s Great Depression. Really, that’s it. We watch him as he settles into his new role as a stay at home dad while looking for work. Before he had a nanny that took care of his kids, but she’s let go after he’s let go from his job. Not sure why she was let go though since he somehow is able to keep this very expensive home and cause of the ending where I swear he decides to not work again. Of course, there has to be a romance thrown in. The hot and nice blonde teacher takes a liking to him and things progress. The only thing that was memorable was when dad interviews for a job at a tech company. The head of the company actually refers to Social Network Accounts as SNAs. I couldn’t even find that in Urban Dictionary. He asks him if he podcasts. I also swear he asked him if he was on Orkut. That’s the social network that was really popular in Brazil. He also asks if he “does Twitter”. What? Was this intentional to show that the guy was actually clueless about the industry he was in or did the writers not know what they were talking about. Or were they trying some feeble attempt to make fun of tech companies. I think it’s the feeble attempt one since they mention a company acupuncturist. Grow up! These are jokes I would expect from a standup comedian. You can skip this one.