Someone involved with this movie watched a lot of Saturday afternoon television as a kid, a lot like I did. They obviously saw something they liked in cheesy fifties horror movies, a lot like I did. So when they they grew up, they went out and made one.
Tremors is a pitch perfect send-up of any number of Atomic-age monster movies. Starring a solid cast, it features an intelligent, humorous script and a collection of broad but vividly drawn characters.
Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) are a couple of handy-men in the tiny, nowhere town of Perfection, NV. They aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer but they make for a likable pair as they do odd jobs for the town’s scattered citizens. Suddenly, those same citizens start disappearing in increasingly odd ways. The town drunk turns up dead at the top of an electrical tower, clutching a rifle. The town doctor and his wife vanish into thin air, leaving only a mostly buried car. A local farmer also disappears, leaving only his head among the bloody remains of his decimated flock of sheep.
Val and Earl finally stumble across someone who’s still alive, an attractive geology grad student, Rhonda (Finn Carter). She’s been picking up strange underground vibrations. The two handymen soon discover the source, giant burrowing worms with a large appetite. After narrowly escaping with their lives, they make it back to the town to alert the surviving citizens, including a shopkeeper (Victor Wong), a mother and daughter (Charlotte Stewart and Ariana Richards) and a couple of gun-crazy survivalists (Michael Gross and Reba McEntire). It doesn’t take long for the town itself to be under seige by the monsters.
Tremors never takes itself at all seriously and it’s clear that the actors were on the same slightly whacked-out page as writer/director Ron Underwood. Bacon and Ward play off each other well and Finn Carter plays an intelligent and appealing love interest.
The film maintains the perfect balance between humor and horror. Taking a page from Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds, Tremors never bothers to pin down the origin of the giant worms. Are they the result of radiation, a living fossil or from outer space? Who gives a shit? They’re big and they eat people. That’s all they need to say for a movie like this.
Do yourself a favor and spin this movie up one Saturday afternoon. It’ll be just like you’re ten years old again.