19 November 2015

The TREMORS Pentalogy: Original / Aftershocks / Back to Perfection / The Legend Begins / Bloodlines

TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES

German Title:
Tremors 5 - Blutlinien

USA / South Africa, 2015
Director: Don Michael Paul

8/10









It was a long, long wait for us "Tremors"-fans. Almost too long. There were tons of rumours and news updates about possible new "Tremors" films, sequels, reboots, the long-discussed but ultimately cancelled Australian-based installment "Tremors 5: Thunder from Down Under", and what not. Now, 11 years after the last "Tremors" movie ("Tremors 4" - see below), we FINALLY got a new one, and thank god, it's fucking great!


"Tremors 5: Bloodlines" takes place in South Africa where our favorite monster hunter Burt Gummer, who apparently became a star in his very own survival TV series over the years, and his new cameraman Travis Welker have to fight against a new armada of Graboids and Ass Blasters, both bigger and more aggressive than the creatures back home in Perfection Valley.

Although none of the original writers/creators/producers (S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, Nancy Roberts) were involved, part 5 still turned out to be far better than expected, mainly because "Tremors"-newbies director Don Michael Paul ("Lake Placid 4") and the 3(!) screenwriters M.A. Deuce, C.J. Strebor & William Truesmith did a fucking terrific job on giving the classic "Tremors" trademarks / style / humor a new coat of white wash that should satisfy oldschool fans as well as peeps who are new to this wonderful franchise.


Ok, the amount of practical effects is rather low, but hey: we get shitloads of surprisingly ace-looking CGI (that makes you forget about some of the shoddier effects in the later installments / TV series), as well as many really badass action scenes that are louder, wilder and more impressive than we've ever seen in any of the previous movies, incl. lots of superb-looking slow-motion sequences, a tense kitchen scene that pays massive tribute to "Jurassic Park", a super-suspenseful cave scene that slightly reminded me of "The Descent" and 2-3 brilliantly grim Assblaster-lifts-off scenes that have a sweet "Jeepers Creepers"-touch.

Acting-wise, everyone delivers a top-notch performance, most notably Michael Gross who gives his strongest and most impressive performance in the history of "Tremors", delivering a surprisingly wide range of emotions, a high amount of I-don't-need-no-stuntman scenes and, of course, shitloads of hilarious one-liners:
"Fly right into my crosshairs, you fire-farting son of a bitch." / "I stuffed his blazing butt!" - "You're like freakin' Rambo." - "Let's boogie!" / "Mr. Gummer, I think you'll find this useful." - "There is a God! R5. Full Banana clip." - "I zeroed the scope myself." - "Where'd you get this?" - "You don't wanna know." - "I like your style. A-frickin'-men." / "Phosphorus! I'm lovin' it."


Similarly great is Jamie Kennedy ("Scream 1-3") as new and super-funny Gummer-sidekick Travis Welker: "Hey, gummy bears wait up."/ "Chop-chop, Pops." - "Stop calling me Pops!" - "Got you. Old man." / "That's a yummer from the Gummer!" / "The fact that you're out here in Who-The-Hell-Cares, Nevada, smokin' Rattlesnake says something." / "Yo, what happened to your dome, man? You binge watch 'Breaking Bad', again? You trying to appeal to a younger demographic, get a little Pitbull on us?"

Also great: the outstandingly gorgeous Natalie Becker ("Death Race: Inferno"), Ian Roberts ("Cyborg Cop III") as super-funny airman, Daniel Janks ("Northmen") as seemingly sympathetic asshole and Zak Hendrikz as baddie who reminded me of Die Antwoord's Ninja, though he's obviously much, much cooler than Ninja.


Final verdict: a wonderfully entertaining and excellent return of one of my most beloved movie franchises, far better than expected and Tremor-rific from start to finish. Fingers crossed that there will be more sequels in the near future. I need more Gummer in my life!!!

Oh, and never forget: "If you've got Assblasters, then you've got Graboids."





TREMORS

German Titles:
Im Land der Raketen-Würmer / Tremors - Im Land der Raketen-Würmer

USA, 1990
Director: Ron Underwood

9/10







In a 2013 interview, Kevin Bacon said that after a long string of box office flops like "She's Having A Baby" or "Quicksilver", "Tremors" was a massive career low for him: "One afternoon in New York, on the corner of 86th and Broadway, I broke down and fell to the sidewalk, screaming to my pregnant wife, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing a movie about underground worms!’" Oh Kevin, if only you had known at that time that this would become one of the most popular films of your career, at least among horror and monster buffs... :-)


"Tremors" is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most entertaining creature features of the last 30 years or so. A blast of a movie, directed by Ron Underwood ("City Slickers"), written by S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock [who both wrote the screenplays for all 4 "Tremors" films, and also directed/produced/second-unit-directed the three sequels, as well as several episodes of the "Tremors" TV series], following Val & Earl, two handymen who live and work in the 14-residents-community Perfection, Nevada, an isolated ex-mining settlement where all hell breaks loose when suddenly a horde of fleshhungry huge underground sand worms - named "Graboids" - emerge...

By transcending the limitations of the genre with a shrewd concept, a super-fun screenplay, hilarious dialogue and wonderfully likable oddball characters, "Tremors" established itself as a really excellent fun-for-everyone flick that works as a modern re-interpretation of the well-trodden creature feature, as well as homage to classic monster movies of the 50s. It would be grossly overstated to call it a "genre revolution", but... well, considering the fact which kind of horror films dominated the 80s, this was definitely a bit revolutionary. It brought monsters back to the big screeen, and in some weird kinda way, it was the one movie that somehow led to a surprising monster movie revival in the 90s, with "Jurassic Park 1+2", the American "Godzilla" remake, several new Japanese "Godzilla", "Mothra" and "Gamera" flicks, "The Relic", "Anaconda", "Deep Rising" etc. etc.


Every single worm was excellently constructed and every single special effect looks just awesome. Seeing the Graboids with their snake-like tentacle-tongues popping out of the underground, dragging down people and cars... hell, it's just bonkers-brilliant! The cast is fucking perfect, every performance and every character is spot-on, especially Kevin Bacon & Fred Ward as rock-paper-scissors-playing handyman heroes, Finn Carter as super-cute seismologist (where is she now?), Michael Gross as badass weapon junkie Burt Gummer, Reba McEntire as his similarly badass wife, genre legend Victor Wong ("Big Trouble in Little China, "Prince of Darkness") as eccentric shop owner, and Robert Jayne as ridiculously obnoxious teenager. Also worth mentioning: the bombastic score by Ernest Troost ("Munchies") and the fabulous cinematography by Alexander Gruszynski ("Bad Dreams").


Some hilarious dialogue for shits and giggles:
"Good luck, shithead." - "Don't worry about me, jerkoff."
"Dammit, Valentine! You never go for any girl unless she fits that stupid list of yours from top to bottom. (...) They're all the same: dead weight. 'Ooh, I broke a nail!' Ugh! Makes my skin crawl." - "Yeah, well, I'm a victim of circumstance." - "I thought you called it your pecker."
"STAMPEDE! Stampede, Earl! Get out of the way, get out of the way!" - "You dumb shit. I was in a stampede once. Five hundred head, all hell-bent for the horizon." - "Now, exactly how many cattle are required for a stampede, Earl? Is it three or more? Is there a minimum to 'pede?" - "I wish they'd stampede
up your ass."
"Damn it Valentine, you never plan ahead, you never take the long view, I mean here it is Monday and I'm already thinking of Wednesday... It is Monday right?"

Summarizing, "Tremors" is trem(or)endous fun!




TREMORS 2: AFTERSHOCKS

German Title:
Tremors 2 - Die Rückkehr der Raketenwürmer

USA, 1996
Director: S.S. Wilson

8/10








"Tremors 2: Aftershocks" is one of the few sequels that are almost as good as its predecessor, even though at first sight, I expected it to be a trainwreck, due to the almost-too-long gap between the first and the second one, a budget of only 4 million dollars (the first one had a budget of 11 million), and NO KEVIN BACON!!! However, writer and first-time feature director S.S. Wilson perfectly achieved to keep up everything that made the first part so great, and also managed to expand the two recurring characters (Fred Ward & Michael Gross), added new cool characters (that make you forgrt about Bacon's absence) and introduced the next stage in the Graboids' lifecycle: "Shriekers", asexual and super-hungry pack hunters that look like little dinosaurs and live/hunt on the surface
to eat and reproduce.


The sequel takes place at an oil refinery in Mexico where Earl, his new partner Grady and weapon junkie Burt Gummer try to gain control over a new Graboid-outbreak that eventually becomes a hard-to-beat Shrieker-invasion. Considering how disappointing sequels can be, "Tremors 2" is actually shockingly good and almost as entertaining as the first one, full of tension, action and fun, full of new and super-cool ideas and gimmicks (the Graboid arcade game, hunting Graboids with remote-controlled toy cars, the explosion-protecting umbrellas...), and full of hilarious scenes and sequences (hiding behind doors, the nightly Shrieker-triple-attack, covered in fire extinguisher foam, Burt hiding in the excavator shovel, the "Radio Graboid", the uber-funny scene with the broomstick...).

It's very well written and directed, excellently paced, never dull or boring. Fred Ward and his new partner, played by Chris Gartin, make for a really great team, almost on a par with Ward/Bacon, Ward's lovely love interest Helen Shaver is just awesome, and Michael Gross gives another highly amusing performance. The practical effects look badass, the few CGI effects look better than most of today's crap-ass CGI, I love the look of the incredibly green Mexican landscapes. Also, superb music by Jay Ferguson ("Elm Street 5").


An incredible sequel that unfairly got thown to Video, even though it really deserved a theatrical release. Yes, it's that great!



TREMORS 3: BACK TO PERFECTION

German Title:
Tremors 3 - Die neue Brut

USA, 2001
Director: Brent Maddock

7/10









After another pretty long time gap (5 years!), "Tremors" fans got lucky by receiving yet another direct-to-video sequel, this time directed by writer and one-time director Brent Maddock. "Tremors 3: Back to Perfection" (wonderful title!) following Burt Gummer who returns to Perfection, Nevada, where he meets old companions, has to deal with obnoxious "Graboid Safari" tour-operators, crooked land developers and another massive "Graboid" outbreak.


Just like its predecessor, "Tremors 3" is able to fully keep up the Tremors-typical humor and entertainment, gives us an armada of fun characters (lots of familiar faces from the first part, as well as some cool new additions), expands on its basic concept without rehashing previous installments, and it also delivers yet another stage in the Graboids' life cycle: the "Ass Blaster"(!!), a Shrieker with wings and the ability to rocket itself into the air by producing inflammable chemicals. Sounds hilarious - is hilarious.

Admittably, Part 3 has some problems: there's way too much CGI and not enough practical effects (the CGI looks rather neat, but it's rather unpleasant to see computer-generated Graboids), story and screenplay are okay but both could have been so much stronger, and the climax... well, it's action-packed and diverting, but it's too long and a tad too shiftless.


Aside from that, I still highly enjoyed it. Michael Gross is excellent-as-always as the mighty Burt Gummer, perfectly carrying the movie, and together with shopkeeper Jodi (played by Susan Chuang) and tour operator Desert Jack (played by Shawn Christian), he manages to kick some fucking Assblaster-butt. There's once again shitloads of remarkable scenes (the Graboid Safari incl. fake attacks and lots of dust / fence shenanigans, the "Shrieker" opening, Burt getting "eaten" by a Graboid, hinding under mattress......) and many, many cool new gimmicks (Graboid / Shrieker comics, plush Graboids, Potato gun...).

Not as fun as its predecessors, but still very worth checking out!




TREMORS 4: THE LEGEND BEGINS

German Title: 
Tremors 4 - Wie alles begann

USA, 2004
Director: S.S. Wilson

7/10









2003 and 2004 were obviously the greatest years for true "Tremors" fans: not only did they get a 13-episode TV series (review soon), the also got yet another film: "Tremors 4: The Legend Begins", a prequel to the first 3 parts, set in 1889 in the town of "Rejection Valley" (the origins of "Perfection Valley") where Hiram Gummer (great-grandfather of Burt Gummer, owner of a nearby Silver mine) and the founders of Rejection try to defend against an invasion of graboids.


At first glance, "Tremors 4" seems to be different from its predecessors, more in the vein of horror-themed Western films like "Ghost Town (1990)" or "The Burrowers". Yet, even though its set in a different time and place, it's still a true "Tremors" flick, thanks to the quality work of S.S. Wilson & Brent Maddock who once again deliver huge amounts of Tremors-esque humor and atmosphere, an original story, charming characters + more practical effects than in the 3rd part and ONE MORE stage in the Graboids' life cycle: Baby-Graboids a.k.a "Shooters" or "Dirt Dragons"!

Next to lots of cool Graboid-Action (Punt gun fun / campfire 'massacre' / Silver mine horror...) and more fun dialogue, the best thing about Part 4 is Michael Gross whose performance as snobby businessman is simply amazing. Hell, what an underrated actor he is! Also great: Billy Drago as Roland-like gunslinger Black Hand Kelly, Sara Botsford as charming hotel owner and Lydia Look as grouchy Chinese saleswoman.


A few scenes felt either too long or rather unnecessary and the pacing is often a tad too slow. Despite these trifles, "Tremors 4" is about as enjoyable as every other "Tremors" flick!


The "Tremors" TV series will be reviewed very soon!


5 comments:

  1. Finally you've seen it, congratulations, I knew you're gonna love it. I really doubted wether that was a movie worth to be watched by ME ;o), but I was taught a lesson. The rest of the series is not always such a good quality like this one, but still nice and should be seen at least once!

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  2. yeah, I read a whole lotta mediocre reviews about the other parts, but guess what: I'll watch it anyway :)

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  3. I can see you love your Tremors, brother! XD
    I'll admit, I was expecting worse seeing Bloodlines had taking a new approach to their Ass Blasters and Graboids (and graboid tongue) but heck, it was entertainingly crazy just the way WE like it!

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  4. I love these! Love the whole series but didn't know there was a new one out. I really hope I get to see it sometime. It sounds awesome! Thanks for the super reviews! :)

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  5. I watched the first three - liking them about as much as you did - maybe one number lower on 2 and 3. I skipped 4 and the series - now I'll catch up because I'm glad to hear 5 is good.

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