Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights: Tremors

Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm once more highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

For those who tuned in last year, I subjected you to a daily dose of diabolical dread and devilish distress. Just as every good horror movie deserves an inferior sequel, I offer this follow-up of also-rans, not bads, and perhaps a couple of you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-mes.

Unleashed: 1990


“Now you’re only one degree of separation from me.”

What evil lurks: Tremors didn’t get much love when it was initially released in the winter of 1990. Over time, it has garnered a respectable following, spawning three sequels and one television series, ¬†putting it nearly on par with Planet of the Apes. Writers Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson, and director Ron Underwood nicely infuse the classic 1950s B movie monster motif with a touch of goofy, sometimes slapstick humor that manages to avoid degenerating into outright parody or farce. Much care is taken in making the menacing graboids (the movie’s monsters) both biologically believable and genuinely threatening. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are hilariously perfect foils for one another as the town handymen who first discover the threat. They’re the unlikeliest heroes since Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton strutted across the screen. The plot unfolds nicely in delicate and unexpected layers and the full-circle ending works beautifully.

Highlight from hell: Kevin Bacon’s Valentine punching a graboid in his tongue-face.

Terrifying trivia: This was Reba McEntire’s first film.

Diabolical dialogue: “You see, we plan ahead that way we don’t do anything right now.”

Son of: Them! (1954). Actually, Tremors descends from any of the atomic B movies of the 1950s but with its desert setting and underground monsters, Them! is the perfect parent.

Shoddy sequel syndrome: Though the script is amusing and fun, it isn’t quite as clever as its funnier offspring, Lake Placid.

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