Horror of Horrors: Tremors
Not all of us grew up on a diet of R-rated film and horror extravaganzas. In fact, my parents tried (unsuccessfully) to prevent me from seeing an R-rated film until I was 17. Yet I think there were still some films my parents let me watch at too young of an age. You remember how TV would adjust R-rated films to make them PG-13 for prime time TV? Well my parents would occasionally let me sit in on these films with them in the evenings, and sadly a couple of them scarred me for life, even if they are incredibly corny looking back at them. The ones that come to mind are Jaws, Arachnophobia, and Tremors. The latter of this list left me so scared that as a child I think I spent an entire month trying to maneuver my household from item of furniture to item of furniture, avoiding having my feet touch the ground as much as possible. I rewatched this 1990 gem for all of you, so sit back to enjoy this horror of horrors from my childhood.
Right away I realized I had forgotten that this movie starred Kevin Bacon. Of course I would have had no idea who he was back in the day. And I think he might have been more of a nobody back then, which makes me wonder if he has blocked this film out of his memory.
And our first death of the film? It was definitely not how I remembered it. The town drunk climbed on to a telephone pole and died of dehydration. Next we see an old farmer gardening next to his herd of sheep when he suddenly disappears under the ground. I had remembered the first death being the couple with their station wagon listening to music as they stared at the stars. This was actually probably just when I walked in to the room and joined my parents watching the film, which might be why it is burned in to my mind forever. Of course rewatching the film made me think that this would indeed be a better introductory scene. If they had this bizarre getting sucked through the ground and killed death as the opener it might have been more reminiscent of the opening scene of Jaws, mysterious and terrifying.
Another hint that something is not right out here in this pictaresque country town? A girl from one of the big universities is in the area to study a sudden, unexplained and unprecedented uptick in the amount of seismic activity in the area. The initial assumption is that these deaths are being caused by a killer on the loose. But gradually there are other unexplained events that a simple serial killer would not be capable of, and we find that the seismic activity is related to these deaths.
Of course being an adult the jello brains and fake, decapitated heads are not as believable as they were when I was five. But I can see why at this point when the crazy alien creature finally rears its ugly head(s) why I was so scared. This monster is huge and travels under ground lightning fast, sensing the vibrations and noise you make when you walk and talk. It lines itself up underneath you and uses it’s multiple snake headed mouth to suck you down and devour you. And because of its predisposition to grabbing people, the actors in the films name it “the graboid”. Way to use those brain cells to name the most important zoological discovery in the last 50 years.
And so we get to the finale of the movie, a stand off in the town center by our group of local heroes and the remaining living beasts (of which the college student figured out there were at least three). The solution to the entire town retreating to the roofs? The monsters just decide to pull all the building underground by tearing down their foundation. So Val (aka Kevin Bacon) devises a scheme to escape with the crew on a bulldozer which is to large for them to pull underground.
But these are smart alien monsters, and so just before our band of survivors makes it to the mountain range the monsters dig a large fake pit under the path of the bulldozer so that it falls in. But the good news is by the time this crew gets stranded in the dessert on boulders they have a lot more bombs, and a lot more ideas on how to kill these worms. They are able to trick and blow up each of them, surviving to tell their tale back in town to the authorities. And naturally Rhonda, the incredibly intelligent and somewhat sexy college student falls for the man played by Kevin Bacon who could not be simpler or dumber, cause that’s how things in these movies always work. Letting men date out of their league. Thanks graboids!
I am glad that I took the time to rewatch this film, but it has definitely wiped any residual fear my childhood mind put there clear. Of course, it is still fun to pretend and hop from stone to stone so as to avoid creating tremors through the ground even if you are an adult.
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