Wednesday 19 December 2007

Tremors 1-4

I love Tremors. It's a great movie. And I made a big deal about having never seen its three sequels. And then Dan gave me the box set as a going away gift. Now, nearly a year and a half later, I can finally tell Dan to stop bugging me: I have now seen every Tremors movie ever made.

Tremors is about Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward fighting for survival against giant underground monsters. I'd write more about the story, but why bother? You've got all you need. It also stars Michael Gross, the dad from Family Ties as a Michigan Militia-type nutjob who is married to Reba McEntire. Michael Gross was so excited to be in Tremors that the moment after filming his last scene in Family Ties, he began work on the movie. Completely preposterous, Tremors takes itself seriously just enough so that you're totally engaged in the proceedings.

The answer to where the graboids come from, a question posed in the first film, is revealed in Tremors Aftershocks. This time Fred Ward and not-Kevin Bacon head down to Mexico to off a whole pack of graboids. They're soon joined by Michael Gross and the trio plan to exctinctify the monsters. As is the case with many a sequel, the stakes are upped when the graboids mutate into weird dodo-like things, which are ultimately harder to kill. Aftershocks cashes in on much of the humour and campiness of the original, but lacks its cleverness. And Kevin Bacon.

Michael Gross reprises his role as survivalist gun-nut Bert for the third time in Tremors III: Back to Perfection. In this outing, Perfection, Nevada, is again the setting, as it was in the first film. I was surprised to find that I liked this installment in the series, which I attribute almost entirely to Susan Chuang. Her character owns the town's general store and is sharp as a whip. Also, (almost) all of the original cast who survived the first movie are, awesomely, back for more graboid related fun. And by fun I mean desperate attempts to not get eaten.

As the name would suggest, Tremors IV: The Legend Begins is a prequel. Soul-bound to star in every film in the series, Michael Gross is back, this time playing his own poncey ancestor. Perfection is instead called Rejection. But there's still a Chinese family that owns the general store and there's still the issue of underground monsters. Not nearly as well paced as the other three movies, Tremors IV takes a long time to get going and then recycles a lot of the action from earlier films. Interestingly, the graboid life cycle can only be fully understood by watching this film, which is set in the late 19th century.

All in all, I'd have to say the Tremors Attack Pack didn't, uh, grab me. The first movie is a classic, which I already owned on DVD. As for the rest, II and III are pretty good when you consider them for what they are: low(er) budget direct-to-video fare with crummy CGI effects. But they still lack the wry humour and cleverness that defined the original. And I just don't understand the need for a prequel at all.

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