- Kevin Bacon as Val McKee
- Fred Ward as Earl Bassett
- Finn Carter as Rhonda LeBeck
- Michael Gross as Burt Gummer
- Reba McEntire as Heather Gummer
- Bobby Jacoby as Melvin
- Victor Wong as Walter Chang
A fine horror comedy that lovingly sends up and celebrates 50’s monster movies, Tremors is a fun ride and a film that has you laughing just as much as biting your nails.
Handy men Val McKee and Earl Bassett are growing bored with their lives in the desert town of Perfection, Nevada. Val is the younger of the men and more than a bit jocular, Earl is the older and more pragmatic of the two. While neither are the sharpest or brightest, they know that they can’t just doing menial jobs for their lives. Deciding to pack up and leave, their short-lived exit from town is cut short by the discovery of a dead body. The man in question is found up a pylon, dehydrated after being too afraid to climb down. Shortly following this is more gruesome discoveries and the men encounter seismologist Rhonda LeBeck, who has been investigating unusual activity in the desert area. It transpires that worm like creatures have emerged from beneath the ground and been attacking the residents, taking them underground for sustenance. With help from Rhonda, it is deduced that vibration and noise is what attracts them, leading the survivors to think up ways to communicate without being caught and plot some form of break from the growing onslaught . Holed up back in the dusty town, Val and Earl take residence in the convenience store with some of the other residents. But these creatures are getting smarter and more vicious, leading more frequent attacks .It’s now up to the group to come up with some way to escape being the next meal of these ferocious creatures.
Ron Underwood has a knowing sheen to his direction; gladly combining the humorous and shocking into one big ride. His efficient pacing makes certain that no flab is found and we get straight into the action, while still allowing the characters to take centre stage. The small community all have their respective quirks and foibles, which is pretty fun to see as they slowly band together to survive and defend themselves against the creatures. It’s a simple story, but Tremors knows this and with a winking eye to the audience, acknowledges what you’d expect from a 50’s creature feature and adds its own brand of things to the mix. Things especially hit a high point when the residents are forced onto the roof, while still attempting to conjure a plan of escape as well as keeping noise to a minimum. Having to be extremely careful not to alert the creatures of their presence The design of the worm like critters is through practical effects, and it looks well-worn by now, yet this adds something else to Tremors. What Tremors most has going for it is the humour, which is delivered in spades. The running gag of Val and Earl being unable to leave town, at first because of trivial things and soon quite deadly events, is hilariously done and plays throughout the darkly comic heart of Tremors. Horror and comedy is sometimes a difficult tightrope to walk, but Tremors does it extremely well. It ensures that the laughs are very present, but that it can ratchet up suspense and deliver the horror goods when required. Through quick point of view shots, the nasty creatures attack and we are thrown into the fray as they wage war on the residents. It’s a slice of entertainment of the highest order, complimented by a tongue-in-cheek and jaunty score that fits just right with the tone of the movie.
Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward lead the way as the two unlikely heroes of the piece. They are likable guys who while not the smartest people ever, have enough gumption and attitude to take on the terror in front of them. They are bungling, prone to disaster ,funny yet nifty when it comes to being practical and using what they have at their disposal. A lot of the effectiveness comes from the chemistry between both actors, who clearly are having a blast and enjoy working with each other as the amusing and heroic duo. It wouldn’t be the same without Bacon and Ward in these roles, adding a goofy and irresistible charm to it. Smarts are provided by Finn Carter’s scientist, who is the real brains of the piece and a woman who can take action effectively too when the occasion calls for it. Stealing a lot of the show however is Michael Gross; portraying the war-obsessed and tooled up Burt Gummer with a boisterous personality and wicked gleam in his eye. His attitude and presence are both funny and hopeful, because at first his paranoid antics regarding a new war are laughed at, before coming in extremely useful as the horror rises. Reba McEntire is his wife, who shares his obsession and love of firearms, while there is Bobby Jacoby as the town brat and Victor Wong as the convenience store owner whose place becomes a shelter.
An excellent pastiche of B-movies mixed with more of contemporary sensibility, it’s hard not to enjoy Tremors for just how much of a blast it is. Never taking itself too seriously, Tremors is an all round good time for horror fans who like their movies with humour.