Hello all, my first episode is up today, woo! In honor of this momentous occasion I thought I would share a bit of my weekend experience with you. This past weekend, delightful girlfriend and I watched all four of the Tremors movies. How did she talk me into doing this you ask? Well she can be pretty convincing. I quite like the original and remember watching some of the sequels and also remember them being awful. Do my memories of these movies still stand? Or was I pleasantly surprised by some of them. Well I decided I’d share some of my thoughts with you on this future holiday.
Aah the original is as good as I remember. Sure it’s not high art or anything, but man is it a breath of fresh air compared to modern movies. Tremors builds up kinda slowly. We get to know the main protagonists and experience their shitty luck. Further, each character in the supporting cast is given an introduction, which provides something sorely missing in many scholcky blockbusters these days: setup and payoff. Hey, this couple are two paranoid anti-government gun nuts – totally paid off. This character likes to listen to her walkman (remember those?) and bounce around on a pogo stick – totally paid off. Also it doesn’t break the rule of not showing too much of the monster right off the bat. We see bits and pieces of it and slowly see it’s handiwork as the plot builds up to the big reveal. So yeah, the writing is good and the acting is competent. And man those practical special effects are great, I love the design of the tremors and though it’s basically: Hey I saw Dune and want to make a thriller out of the sandworm, I still think it makes for a great movie monster. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but Tremors is awesome. And seriously, it’s got Kevin Bacon in this damn thing, what more do you want in a movie?
Well for one, I think “Aftershocks” is a great subtitle, if you’re going to make a sequel to Tremors it’s gotta be called “Aftershocks,” or maybe “Completely Unnecessary Cash-in.” This movie is kinda dumb, and about the nicest thing I can say about it is regarding the subtitle. First of all, two of the main characters rely completely on having seen the first movie. Sure it’s a sequel, and you might think that the original should be required viewing, but regardless, I think in an effort to make your movie self contained every character should be introduced. Further, this movie has some serious problems beyond a shitty script and sub-par acting. The first act is basically just characters easily killing all the sandworms. In the original the tremors adapted and were extremely difficult to dispatch, and got more resilient with each one killed. They were like the Borg of underground worm monsters. Tremors 2 completely throws that out the window and turns it into a tremor shooting gallery. Then on top of that, it introduces a second stage in the tremor’s life cycle. The stupid thing about this is that this new form is smaller, less frightening, and way easier to kill. So this movie basically took a great movie monster, neutered it, then neutered it again. For no reason. Also it did the unfortunate thing in calling them “graboids,” which was what one character decided they should be called in the first one, which came off as a joke … but apparently the writers here thought it was fucking gold. For the record, I refuse to call them that, and definitely prefer “tremor” or “sandworm.”
This might be the most ironic subtitle ever. I hate this movie, and I don’t even know where to begin. For one, the kid from the first movie who liked the pogo stick is set up at the beginning to be one of the protagonists – and then spends the majority of the movie away from the action hiding in a box. No I’m not kidding, and that’s just one problem. The rest of the movie is mindlessly about dealing with tremors, in both forms, the kick ass original and the lame ass walking kind. This movie also introduces a new stage in the Tremor life cycle: a flying variant – which would be an awesome idea except for the fact that their propulsion is based on explosive flatulence. Ugh – even remembering this shit show is painful. To give you an idea of how this one stacks up: the girlfriend and I spent the majority of Tremors 2 riffing and laughing – though the movie was bad it still had fun elements and we had a great time watching it. Tremors 3 though we were mostly silent, there was nothing fun about this piece of shit, nothing there to inspire the creative spark of jokes … just a lot of bad, and a lot of wishing it was over.
With Tremors 3 having completely taken the wind out of my sails and removing my general will to live, I was really really really reluctant to press play on Tremors 4. I was pleasantly surprised though. I would never say that Tremors 4 is a great movie, nor necessarily a good movie, but it was actually competent. The film had actual characters it spent time introducing, along with throwbacks to the original that were more nods than dependent on prerequisites. Tremors 4 also subscribed to the same school of thought of employing setup and payoff. There were many things introduced that payed off by the end, and in a lot of ways it reminded me of Cowboys Vs Aliens, another movie I wouldn’t call great, but competent. Importantly, Tremors 4 threw away the dumb later life cycles of the Tremors and instead went the other direction of smaller sandworm thing which grows into the badass one we know and love. On top of that Tremors 4 was incredibly charming, with a lot of predictable tropes, but tropes that were at least executed in an enjoyable manner. And Tremors 4 may have the biggest non-gatling style gun I’ve seen in a movie, actually one-upping the Elephant Gun from the original. Is it possible that I only liked this movie because it came after one of the most disappointing schlockfests I’ve ever seen? It’s certainly possible. Will I ever watch this thing again? Probably not intentionally, but hey, if I ever see it on TV and nothing else is on I’d probably sit and watch it.
So there you have it, basically just stick with the original … and maybe the 4th one if you happen to catch it out and about. Or potentially 2 if you wanna sit around and riff on a shitty movie. 3 though? If you ever see it just burn it … yes that might get you escorted out of Best Buy in handcuffs, but you’ll be doing the world a service.