4K Ultra HD Review: Tremors (1990)

January 30, 2021

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Valentine McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) are two shit-kickin’ handymen kickin’ shit around the near non-existent desert town of Perfection. But all doesn’t stay broken fences and tumbleweeds for our heroes, as soon they are up to their asses in missing people, of which the town truly doesn’t have any to spare!

The boys soon find out the culprit behind it all… the totally reasonable answer of giant mutant earthworms (nicknamed Graboids), as one would have surely guessed.

Now it’s up to them, along with graduate geology student Rhonda LeBeck (Finn Carter) and survivalists Burt and Heather Gummer (Family Ties‘ Michael Gross and country-crooner/sit-com star Reba McEntire respectively) to save P-town and end that wicked worm menace once and for fuckin’ all!

With it’s desert setting and ‘nature gone amok’ antagonists, you may make the assumption that the creators of Tremors may have been channeling the fright flick drive-in fare of the 1950’s when creating this putrid picture… and you’d be abso-fucking-lutely correct!

This is, at it’s core, a “modern” (as of 1990 anyways) version of 1954’s Them, right down to the dusty environs and embiggened creepy-crawly menace… but we do get a great deal more than creature feature pastiche here cats n’ creeps!

First of all we are treated to some top-shelf performances… Bacon and Ward make for some loveable, relatable leads, and Carter, Gross et. al. bring  their ever-lovin’ A game to this as well, creating a motley crew of infinitely likable townsfolk that we actually give a jolly good fuckity fuck if they make it through the outré ordeal at hand!

Add to that a fantastic script courtesy of scribes S. S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, dependable directing from Ron Underwood, and some killer creature and (admittedly mild) gore effects from Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, and you have the makings of a fright flick that has stood the test of time to become a creepy creature classic!

As if all of those wicked words up yonder aren’t enough for you to get this picture in your monstrous mitts post haste, the fine fiends at Arrow Video (along with MVD Entertainment) have included a host of bonus materials longer than a Graboid’s long tubey-thing that worms always have that serves as their one internal organ… I’m not sure if that is even true… anyway, there’s an ass load of bonus material here!

First up comes two brand new audio commentaries; one featuring director Ron Underwood & writers/producers Brent Maddock & S.S. Wilson, and the other courtesy of Tremors super-fan and author of the book Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors, Jonathan Melville. Both provide a host of details about the film’s production and legacy, as well as those good ol’ anecdotes that the kids are so into these days.

Speaking of shit that is new; the “making-of” documentary, interviews (with co-producer Nancy Roberts, director of photography Alexander Gruszynski, associate producer Ellen Collett, the film’s visual effects artists, and composers Ernest Troost & Robert Folk), and a collection of hilarious over-dubs to remove all of that fucking swearing that would burn people’s ears to cinders if the film were to play uncensored on the boob tube.

If archival material gets the crotch of your pants all tight, fret not because there’s plenty of that tossed in here as well including: another “making of” doc, a collection of behind-the-scenes footage detailing the creation of the Graboids, and a handful of deleted scenes.

Also included are the film’s electronic press kit (comprised of four short featurettes… an overview of the film, and three actor profiles covering Bacon, Gross, and McEntire respectively), a trailer collection (containing 2 theatrical trailers, radio spots, TV spots, a promo for the film’s VHS release, and a trailers for each entry in the Tremors franchise), and a series of image galleries (including production stills, behind-the-scenes images, a gallery from the film’s laserdisc release, two drafts of the screenplay, storyboards, and posters & video artwork).

This brings us to disc two, where the special features march on with extended interviews featuring Underwood, Wilson, Maddock, Roberts and Gillis. All said and done this provides nearly five hours of extra content, and expounds greatly on points covered in the aforementioned new “making of” doc.

Also included on this disc are a lengthy Q&A sesh with cast and crew from a 25th anniversary screening of the film (delivered in the now standard ‘shot on crap phone’ manner I’ve come to know and loathe), a gag real (presented with optional intro and commentary from Wilson), and a trio of student films from Underwood, Wilson, and Maddock (including tales of sentient magnetic tape, a living dictionary, and a robot helping a catastrophically lazy teenage girl with a research paper… all are completely charming and a ton of fun).

As if this release hasn’t given fans enough, you also get a 60-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing by author/film scholar Kim Newman & Melville, a fold-out double-sided poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Frank (who also provided the art for the reversible sleeve included as well), another smaller poster featuring new graboid X-ray art (by Frank as well), and six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction cards.

Bottom line, Tremors is, and always has been, Grade-A awesome creature feature storytelling at it’s finest… and this edition is an absolute “must own” for fans of the fearsome franchise!



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