Tuesday, February 25, 2020

From Tremblerz to Tremors

Remember that recent trip to The Domes I shared? Well, I felt inspired to learn more about what the "Tremblerz" display there was based on. I appreciated the work that went into those little critter models! Wouldn't seeing this inspire you to learn their story?


After a lot of googling about sandworms, you might remember that I learned these little critters were inspired by the "Graboids" in the movie Tremors.


I searched our library system for the Tremors movies and found quite a few DVD options! In fact, there were a number of "Attack Packs" available to check out. The Tremors "Attack Pack" consists of four Tremors movies, two of which I've watched.

I tried to photograph this Graboid in its natural environment. 😉

After having a few of you recommend the movies to me, and knowing they were monster movies that seemed inspired by some of the greats of the 1950s and 60s, I had a feeling I'd like Tremors. Turns out I loved it! As expected, Kevin Bacon and Reba McEntire were a hit with me. But there was another character who stole the show...


I watched this guy with his off-the-grid lifestyle, with more weapons hoarded away than you can imagine, and I kept thinking "I know this face, I know this face!" but I couldn't place it. I learned after watching the movie that I was watching Michael Gross in action. Would you believe this is the man who played the dad on Family Ties? Talk about a different role! I never would have guessed it was him. For those of you who have seen The 'Burbs, you might find his character, Burt to be an awful lot like the Rumsfield character. Burt and Rumsfield are both highlights. I wonder what a movie starring both those characters would be like? Hmm... There would probably be a little competition.

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Rumsfield keeping watch with his Animal Crackers

OK, so what can I say about Tremors without giving much away... I mean, for anyone who hasn't seen it already. And I got the feeling I was one of the few people who had not! Anyway, Tremors is a monster movie. And I think you have a pretty good idea of what the monsters look like at this point. It's a very fast-paced thriller but with so many funny moments. And with the exception of maybe one character, I really liked everyone in this.

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On the DVD commentary someone said that this movie is like JAWS but on land, and I think that's fair. Like the shark in JAWS, these monsters aren't playing favorites. If you're standing on the ground as they snake on by, you could be eaten. It doesn't matter if you're a good person or not. So while I kept thinking one character would get eaten on account of being really annoying and doing every dumb thing possible, well nope.

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The setting for this movie is a town in Nevada called Perfection, and I'm pretty sure that's one of those ironic town names. Only 16 people live in this desert town. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward play some sort of freelance handymen, who are likable guys. There's a female grad student who is out there working on some research. Burt and his wife Heather (played by Reba McEntire) are survivalists, or I guess we would say Preppers nowadays. They own every weapon short of a cannon. And it's implied that they have a cannon. There are a few other side characters who are nice people. The town is faced with a killer monster problem.  The townsfolk have their different ways of problem solving and working together, and that's interesting and fun to watch. You have to wonder what you would do in their shoes as you watch this.

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It seems like a funny thing to say, but I liked how normal the people were. The men and women interacted in a realistic way and nearly everyone worked well together and had their own strengths. I think that would be the very realistic challenge if you were thrown in with a handful of people in a situation like this. Everyone would be thinking on their feet, almost literally! You'd have to think and act quickly, and just bring any skills you had forward to help. I can't remember the last time I saw a movie with this much functional teamwork.

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The second Tremors is also fun, but not quite as good as the first. I still recommend it, though. Kevin Bacon isn't in the second one. Chris Gartin is in his place and he's beyond goofy. Michael Gross makes another appearance in this one and basically steals the show. I started really getting into that movie after he showed up. Without sharing too much, I'll just say that the Graboids have a new trick up their sleeves in Tremors II and the challenges start multiplying very quickly. If you thought the people had to move fast in the first one, just wait and see the second!

I'm trying to decide if I'm going to watch the third and fourth Tremors. I can see that Michael Gross is in them, so that is encouraging. After a bit of googling, it would appear that the fourth movie is an origin story/Western! OK, I think I'm going to need to watch that. 🤠

So, any Tremors fans out there? I'm guessing basically everyone?