A while back I wrote about one of my favorite dumb movies, the 1990 goofy comedy-horror flick, Tremors (see my post, “Guilty Pleasures: Tremors”). I’ve watched it many times, and while I knew that there had been three sequels made, I had always avoided them—until recently. To begin with, they were all direct-to-video productions, and that usually doesn’t bode well. And more often than not, sequels do not come close to the original (see my post on Mimic 2, “A Real Turkey”).
So okay, while none of the three equaled the first movie, they were nonetheless entertaining. Some laughs (intentional and otherwise), a few thrills, and—good heavens!—even a bit of originality in each. Here are abstracts on the second and third films. The fourth one will follow next week.
TREMORS 2: AFTERSHOCKS
“Evolution: It’s a Bitch” served as the tagline for the first sequel, released in 1996, and indeed it is. Fred Ward is back as Earl Bassett, now trying to make a go of it with a failing ostrich ranch. A guy from a Mexican oil company asks for Earl’s help. Seems that Graboids (the giant worms from the first movie) are killing workers at an oil field in Sonora, and since Earl knows how to destroy the creatures… Earl initially refuses, but his sinking bank account, along with a bounty of $50,000 per Graboid, changes his mind.
Along with new partner Grady Hoover, Earl drives down to Mexico. At the oil field he meets a scientist named Kate Reilly, who is investigating the Graboids. Things go well initially, as Earl and Grady destroy a bunch of the things by sending out remote control cars carrying dynamite and detonating them from afar. But because there are way too many of the monsters, Earl calls for backup: outrageous right-wing survivalist Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), who appeared in the first movie. The Mexican army has provided Burt with one hell of an arsenal. They fan out into the desert and resume the hunt.
Later, Earl and Grady confront what appears to be a sick Graboid. It eventually dies as something bursts out of it. This is the next step in the evolution of the Graboids: a disgusting monstrosity that, for soon-to-be obvious reasons, they call a Shrieker. This hermaphrodite creature can replicate at an alarming rate after eating, and since it initially chows down on some unfortunate
humans, it multiplies into a horde. (Or is that a herd?)
No spoiler alert: Earl, Grady, Burt, and Kate are all that remain at the oil company’s field offices, under siege by the Shriekers. No help is coming; they don’t have much in the way of weaponry; the beasties are still multiplying; and, they’re growing smarter. How will Earl & Company save the day?
Check it out. It’s a blast—literally.
TREMORS 3: BACK TO PERFECTION
Burt Gummer becomes the star in this 2001 sequel, which takes us back to the town of Perfection, Nevada, site of the first movie. It’s a reunion of sorts for actors from the original, reprising their roles as Miguel, Nancy Sterngood, her daughter Mindy, and obnoxious teenager Melvin Plugg. After hunting down Graboids and Shriekers around the world, Burt returns home to his fortress on the hill. Perfection has become a tourist mecca for Graboid fans, with shyster Jack Sawyer offering staged tours and scaring the crap out of visitors. And Melvin, now an obnoxious adult, is a land developer attempting to buy out the long-time residents in order to develop the valley. Burt, though happy to be home, does not like what has happened to Perfection.
When a real Graboid pops up and eats Jack’s assistant, the tourists tear ass out of town. Who you gonna call? Right. Good old Burt, who thought he was done with the monsters for a while, uses his tracking equipment to determine that there are three Graboids in the valley. But before he can set out to kill them, some government agents, along with a paleontologist, show up and say that the Graboids are an endangered species and must not be killed. They even threaten eminent domain to move the residents out, which gets Burt’s right-wing blood to boiling.
Jack proposes a deal: if the government gets one live Graboid, the townsfolk can kill the other two and stay put. They set out to capture one, but the creature swallows Burt. Jack lures the monster to Burt’s compound, where it crashes into the bunker walls and dies. Using a chainsaw, he cuts Burt out of the Graboid’s belly. (I’m not making this up!)
Jodi Chang, who now runs the general store, joins Miguel, Burt, and Jack on their hunt, which soon turns up the traumatized paleontologist. Before dying he tells them that the agents were killed by Shriekers from the second Graboid. They follow the Shriekers toward a box canyon but are trapped by the third Graboid, an albino that they name El Blanco, which pins them down for the night.
Finally dodging El Blanco they enter the canyon, only to find that the Shriekers have shed their skin and evolved into yet another form, this time winged creatures that are capable of jet-propelled flight. How do they accomplish this? Seems that chemicals inside them react when they blow huge farts. (I’m not making this up!) One of the
creatures kills Miguel but then dies when it crashes into a fence.
These new monsters, which Jodi dubs Ass-Blasters (I’m not making this up!), chase the three survivors to Burt’s compound, and one breaks in before they can arm themselves. Burt traps it in a room, and they escape, but it occurs to Burt that the room was full of MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat). If they’re like the Shriekers, they will multiply after gorging themselves. Reluctantly, Burt blows up his entire compound.
All this time, Nancy and Mindy have been hiding on the roof of the general store. They contact Burt and the others via walkie-talkie and tell them something that they—especially Burt—did not want to hear. Seems that, unlike the Shriekers, eating food would render the Ass-Blasters comatose, and easy to kill. Oh, the irony!
With no conventional weapons at hand, Burt, Jack, and Jodi head for the junkyard to see what they can improvise. And therein lies the balance of the story—which you can check out, if you’re interested.
If I had to rate the Tremors films, this would be number four…you can probably guess that from some of the goofy plot points, and my commentary. Still, it’s a fun flick, and harmless—not counting all the folks who were eaten—and worth a look if you’re into the series, or comedy-horror films in general.
Next time I’ll talk about Tremors 4: The Legend Begins. Sneak preview: for me, this was the best of the sequels.