As kids who grew up with on TV, no cable, and a selection of recorded VHS tapes, my brother and I were given only a limited amount of movies to watch and as such “Tremors” was one of our favorite bad horror movies to put in before we went to sleep. It had monsters, laughs, no scares, and enough gore to whet our whistles, and even at a young age it was so joyously corny we had fun. “Tremors” is a monster movie that is all around about as high quality as “Night of the Lepus,” but with enough camp to keep it running as a nineties schlock spectacular with corny monsters, a cheesy ending, and a premise that granted it three equally corny sequels, and a short lived TV series.
The stars of the film were still stars in the eighties including Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, both of whom are like a “Lethal Weapon” movie except with a burrowing monster. Both freelance repairmen in the South, they happen across the body of a friend who chased on to a tower by a hidden menace and died waiting out the danger. This leads the film in to something of a mystery as the two bickering riffing best friends often channeling Paul Newman and Robert Redford sans the charm, learn that their small town in the desert is being consumed by speedy burrowing underground monsters later tagged as Graboids. The mystery completely falls to the wayside in exchange for basic monster movie madness which involves running, screaming, climbing, and bickering at high altitudes and rock clusters, all of which quickly becomes repetitive but as entertaining as it can be.
Ron Underwood for all of his faults as a director really does know how to draw out tension by showing some pretty tense chase scenes including Finn Carter being chased along a wood planked porch, and the group pole vaulting along rock after rock trying to get in to town to warn their friends. “Tremors” feels like a script from 1974 that was kept on the shelf and injected a nineties vibe because Underwood’s film has that touch of appealing to the eighties and nineties crowds by casting Reba McEntire and Robert Gross as a right wing gun nut married couple, while McEntire sings in the closing credits. But for all the dated malarkey, Underwood at least finds an excuse to get mildly attractive co-star Finn Carter out of her pants in and in to panties, and gives Gross and McEntire a moment to shine with their famous action scene involving their wall of guns and a lone graboid.
“Tremors” for all of its flaws really should just be taken as a monster movie farce in the same vein as “Attack of the Crab Monsters” and “Humanoids from the Deep” with monsters who are about as threatening as any of them and twice as terrible. Often times you can see the foam and plastic mats rising from the prop monsters, and in the action packed finale, a monster bursts from the side of a canyon wall that is obviously cardboard. But “Tremors” is a fun time to be had, and one that was sadly the last in a decade where horror and monster movies became somewhat passe and looked down on, and for that it’s an appreciate B movie. Oh “Tremors,” tastes so bad going down but feels so good going in; anyone looking for a schlocky B monster movie with Kevin Bacon doing his best Southern accent should apply for this seventies reject with cheesy creatures, terrible special effects, and a corny screenplay. It’s a childhood favorite, for sure.