Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nah, I'm Just a Worm

There's a whole lot to love about Tremors. Big hungry worms. An adorable bromance. Kevin Bacon's feathered locks. Pole vaulting. Reba McEntire. The fact that it's an easy go-to when defending '90s horror as having at least SOME merit.

As for the sequels, I know not much about them. I watched Part 2 back in the days of VHS and all I remember was the lack of the Bacon. As with breakfast buffets or cobb salads, that's usually a bad thing.
Parts 3 & 4 were apparently made for the SyFy Channel before it got hip with the Ys. Now you might call me a wild one for daring to jump ahead to the last film without the continuity of its predecessors, but guess what? There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you COULDN’T understand. shouldn't understand. 

I’m a loner. A rebel. You know the rest.
Wait, where was I? Right, see, Tremors 4 is actually a prequel set in the old west and co-starring Billy '7 Mummies' Drago, a fact that results in the following:
  1. I can skip parts 2 & 3
  2. I must watch this movie
Quick Plot: Welcome to Rejection, population: dwindling. When 17 miners are mysteriously (and savagely) killed, only a handful of townsfolk remain. Among them are Juan, a hard-working Mexican with dreams of owning a range, Christine, a spunky redheaded innkeeper, the Changs, Chinese immigrants turned general store owners, and Tecopa, a Native American. There might have been a few more pieces of fodder--er, characters, but let's answer the question that's really burning your bottom:
Michael Gross (he to the Tremors-verse what Brad Dourif is to Child’s Playland or Costas Mandylor is to the Saw movies) is top-billed and yet, you say, this film is set a good 70 years or so before the birth of his franchise character, Burt Gummer, the gun-loving trucker-hat wearing country boy so handy with a firearm. Taking a note from Back to the Future, Tremors 4 casts Gross as Hiram, the great great (maybe still great, I'm bad with numbers) granpaw of our modern hero. 

A good deal of humor comes from Gross's portrayal of his previous character's exact opposite: Hiram is a prissy, sheltered investor raised with a silver spoon shoved so far in it reaches his prim mustache. Those who know the series will be amused by his mannerisms, chuckling at how he holds a gun as if he were Denise Richards trying to figure out how to open a dictionary.
But as much as we love Mr. Keating, the reason to watch any Tremors film is a little less complex: carnivorous worms! On that front, Tremors 4 is...okay. It’s refreshing that the creatures are done with practical effects (though some gooey splatter bares the mark of SyFy quality CGI) and the film adds some fun by playing with the size and age of the creatures. We came for the worms, we get the worms, and while they’re not spectacular, they’re still worms. 

Speaking of worms, Billy Drago shows up! The genre movie slummer gives a fun turn as
a sharp shooter hired to fight the tremors and teach Hiram how to handle a pistol. It’s amusing.

And ‘amusing’ is pretty much the best way to sum up Tremors 4. Does it capture the energy of the first film? No, but that’s a juggernaut too special to be repeated on a straight-to-Sci-Fi-Channel original. Still, the movie is a good time in a bag-o-microwave-popcorn kind of way, and sometimes, that’s the snack we need.
High Points
You have to love any film that begins with a clean decapitation played for gentle laughs
Low Points
Tremors has never been a mean franchise--in a way, it’s almost like the Brendan Fraser of horror comedy--and therefore, once we reach a point a good 30 minutes from the end where the only characters left alive are the friendly batch of townspeople with big dreams, it’s pretty obvious that none of them will be wormed
Lessons Learned
No one goes without a hat in China

Naming your town ‘Rejection’ ain’t such a bright idea
Rich people are always fat. Even if you think ‘hey, he’s rich and rather slim,’ you’ll probably learn that said he has actually lost all his fortune and is therefore not required to be fat

Tremors 4 is a good-hearted TV-PG rated monster film, one fit for a busy Sunday afternoon filled with sorting laundry or making your office lunch for the rest of the week. It’s not an overly exciting time, but hey, it has a nice spirit about it and offers plenty of wry smiles for those who love a good worming.


  1. Did you know that there was a Tremors TV series? From what I've read, it's apparently very good.
    (And it's coincidentally the second TV show that I noticed (at the same place, no less) that I bought, mistaking it for the movie collection, but turned out to be a TV show. The second was the Walking Tall TV show starring Bo Svenson from the movies)

  2. Have you ever heard of Full Eclipse? A horror movie about a werewolf police unit starring Mario van Peebles and Bruce Payne. (It would only need Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown to reach B-grade actor villain perfection!)

  3. I totally forgot that existed Chris! Never watched an episode. Tell me what you think when you break open your mistakenly acquired collection!

    Damn Anonymous, that sounds sweet enough to actually make me watch a werewolf movie! Added to 'saved' section of Netflix, let's hope for the best.

  4. I didn't even know there was a Tremors 4!! *picks jaw off floor* I LOVED the original - for the same reasons you mentioned, Emily - but haven't bothered to check out 2 and 3. I made THAT mistake with the Feast movies... I like the idea of a prequel set in the old west - recent horror/old west hybrids have been quite interesting (I'm thinking Dead Birds, Ravenous and the Ginger Snaps prequel [not really 'old west', but still 19th century]).
    Must keep an eye out for Tremors 4 - and a bottle of something red handy. ;)

  5. The vault of sequels seems to be endless. I should accept this fact and not my own limited understanding of a franchises limits.

    I loved Tremors 2. Only for that good feeling, childhood memory, the one VHS me and my brothers watched together repeatedly nostalgia.

    So I know of the characters whom you speak. I guess by 4 it would have to be some kind of prequel which I'll buy. I really should pay more attention to these SyFy 'thons. But they always conflict with the SVU marathons...

  6. James, if you haven't seen it yet, I implore you to check out The Burrowers. Best old westy horror I've seen yet! For a laugh, there's also the wonderfully hilarious 7 Mummies, which I really can't recommend highly enough...for very different reasons than The Burrowers.

    Ashlee, I was recently shocked to learn how many Howlings existed. Sometimes sequels just lie in wait like alligators. And I also know how you feel about marathon days. I finally am in the proper habit of actually checking TV listings on holidays.

  7. Holy jesus there are 4 of these things?

  8. I probably won't be sane for long, since for the release of the new (the eighth!!!!) Howling movie, I'm going to be watching and reviewing the whole Howling series, one by one, day by day! (And worse is, other than the first one, I haven't seen any of them, so I'll be going into these movies blind and unknowing of what terror may lie).

  9. Well, at least you will be guaranteed to see sybil danning in at least one of those howling films..

    & yeah, i thought there were only 2, maybe 3 of these..tremor films the dollmistress proves us wrong again.

  10. From what I hear, such an exercise may well drive you insane.

    I look forward to watching this.

  11. do you know who bruce payne is? if so what do you think of him.

  12. It's funny, looking through his IMDB filmography, half of his credits are in my queue but oddly enough, I've yet to see ANY of them!

  13. Reviewing Tremors 4.....nice.....reviewing Tremors 4 and working in a Peewee reference...priceless.

  14. I love that you can appreciate that. Thank you Markus!