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12/18/13

TREMORS - REVIEW


Back when Kevin Bacon was still only one degree away from a good movie, he starred in Tremors, a monster movie with more giant worms than Dune and Beetlejuice combined!

(that's actually incorrect)

Playing one of two losers living in a small town in the middle of nowhere, a town called, ironically, Perfection, Bacon and his pal (played by Fred Ward) finally decide to dump their crappy jobs and their crappy town for a road-trip to the unknown aboard their trusty pick-up truck. Unfortunately, it turns out that some of Perfection's inhabitants are getting killed off in increasingly unusual ways and it might be time to look into what's causing this shocking wave (pun intended) of murderous tremors. As it turns out, several giant worms are sliding around underground and are hunting for people to feast on. They're blind and respond only to sound (see World War Z also) but they're far smarter than they look since they somehow learn from their mistakes and figure out the town's next moves constantly. This all may sound pretty silly and it most definitely is but the film is self-aware and funny enough that it completely pulls it off. Besides, it never pretends to be anything other than a fun, trashy monster movie and delivers just that. Think The Mist but with Slither's wacky sense of humour and you've got yourself a solid idea of what you can expect from this one. The film is clearly low-budget but does surprisingly well with what it's got, bringing to the screen a good bunch of practical effects which may not always look terribly convincing but which more than do the trick, especially considering the film's light-hearted approach. The way this disaster scenario plays out is actually kinda clever, with every escape from the worms being increasingly creative yet surprisingly not too ridiculous. These people essentially act how anyone would if put in such a surreal situation.

Most of them anyway.

The characters in this movie may not exactly be geniuses but they certainly have enough common sense to figure some solutions out eventually, even if it often takes them a minute. Finn Carter plays the seismologist who had come to Perfection to study its tremors and she does a decent job at bringing some welcome brains to the proceedings. Tremors' cast is actually pretty perfect with Bacon and Ward making an excellent buddy duo and the Michael Gross/Reba McEntire gun nut couple being thoroughly entertaining throughout. Good old Victor Wong also pops up in a minor but memorable role because... it's the early 90's and a film without him would have just seemed odd. Everyone looks like they're having a ball without camping it up too much so Tremors ends up being not only an entertaining, genuinely effective monster movie but a solid comedy as well. Sure it has its obviously super-silly moments like three people hopping from rock to rock on really long pipes for ages or Bacon commenting on one of the worms' anus but the film makes it all work. One thing that's both a good thing and a bit of a shame is that Tremors really isn't all that gory save for a few bloody worm chunks here and there. You could have easily "Grindhoused" this movie and made it about as ridiculously bloody and gory as possible and it would have no doubt been a riot. That said, it would have been a completely different, perhaps too self-aware and overly jokey movie so I think it's fair to say that Tremors found the right balance between horror, action and comedy which actually makes it more approachable than you'd expect. That the film spawned countless straight-to-video sequels isn't too crazy as it is something of a cult classic, an underrated trashy gem that deserves to be rediscovered.

That a film about big, stinky giant worms with snake tongues is this enjoyable and this good is, indeed, surprising but I'm personally sure glad that it is as good as it is. In lesser hands this could have easily tumbled into slapstick cartoon territory but, as it stands, Tremors is an energetic, well made, charming 90's gem which should really "worm" its way into your DVD collection, if a Bacon-flavoured monster movie sounds like fun to you.

Sure does to me.

Good stuff.

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