In the tradition of Them! and The Giant Spider Invasion, Ron Underwood’s directing debut Tremors is a horror-comedy with 50’s B-movie panache. We’ve had giant ants, we’ve had giant spiders; hell, we’ve even had giant rabbits. Now, in this addition to the ever-popular creature-feature genre, we are blessed with giant worms. It is a hilarious homage to the drive-in horror movies of yesteryear.
Starring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, Tremors features the sleepy Nevada town Perfection undergo attack from giant man-eating creatures that live bellow the ground (dubbed ‘Graboids’). Val McKee (Bacon) and Earl Basset (Ward), with the help of a shapely seismology student, have to lead a cast of zany characters to safety from monstrous creatures reminiscent of the Sandworms in Dune.
Despite being released in 1990 Tremors has a distinct 80s feel to it, which, with Underwood’s use of more traditional special effects and puppetry, gives the film a much more homely feel, taking you back to a time when CGI shocks and scares weren’t needed to provide an entertaining horror movie.
Tremors plays itself as more of a comedy, preferring laughs over scares; a wise decision since if the film took itself too seriously it would have been a major drawback. It acts as a blueprint for how to do projects like this successfully: care about your material but don’t lose your sense of humour.
What really makes Tremors work are the characters: all of them come across as real people trapped in an insane situation. The interplay of the stars is brilliant to watch and listen to. This partnered with a cheek full of tongue make Tremors one of the most enjoyable monster movies of the 90s, if not of all time.