Tremors (1990) | History of Horror


Pierce Turner

Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at every day for a new installment!

Any time someone asks me what my favorite movie about giant killer worms is, I instantly say Tremors. Granted, that may be a small category of films…but this truly is a special movie.

Tremors (1990) is another horror film, like Dawn of the Dead, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are plenty of laughs to be had here. It follows two handymen, Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) in their mundane, desert life. They live in Perfection Valley, Nevada where just about nothing ever happens. Suddenly, people start showing up mysteriously dead around the valley. It’s discovered that these gruesome deaths were caused by giant, underground worms. Sound like a cheesy Syfy original film? Don’t worry, it’s much more.

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Tremors is a winner because of the comedy, the amazing practical effects, but most of all, because of the characters. These are funny, funny, characters that have more charisma in their fingers than most horror film characters have in their whole bodies. The best of these is Burt (Michael Gross). He’s a hysterical gun fanatic who’s ready for the next world war. Naturally, he gets a bit excited when the monsters show up and he finally has a reason to use his collection. My favorite scene is when one of the worms (which are eventually named “Graboids”) breaks into his basement which happens to be filled with firearms. Burt and his wife, played by Reba McEntire, shoot at it with just about every gun you can imagine. It’s the kind of over-the-top violence that you can’t help but laugh at.

The characters are creative too. The worms are blind, so they track their prey through sound in the ground. The characters hide on rocks and rooftops to avoid them and use clever tricks to attack and escape. The best part is whenever they figure out a way to Image result for tremors gifoutsmart the worms, the worms strike back with tricks of their own. The heroes try to escape on a bulldozer but the worms dig a hole in the road, crashing it. The characters are smart, the worms are smart, and the film is smart.

So, how is Tremors important to horror history? Well, to be honest, it isn’t. I just wanted to bring attention to this underappreciated horror-comedy. It’s a great example of how a scary movie can have fun. There’s serious horror like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and then there’s Tremors.

There are a total of four (soon to be five) sequels to Tremors and I can honestly say Tremors 2 and Tremors 3 are pretty great. There’s also a new TV show in the works with Kevin Bacon set to return. Check these out if you want a good laugh this October.

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