So instead of watching some big important classic or experiencing a powerful and emotional piece that cinema has to offer that will shake me to the very core, I instead went with watching the entire Tremors movie franchise and discovered the wonders of the limping Straight to video horror franchises. Here are my quick thoughts on the movies in order of quality
They never did beat the original, but neither did I expect them to since the movie is some of the finest and most clever filmmaking we have with some of the best screenwriting there is. The constant pendeling of action and the battle of wits between the monster and our crew alongside the escalation and evolution of threat is nothing short of perfect and fine-tuned to be so insanely satisfying to watch. All this brought to life with great dialogue, subtle and on-point foley sounds and a stellar cast that brings to life the entire town where you want them all to survive. The best monster movie there is and one of the best movies we have around. Graboids are also such a memorable and cool monster. This is the type of movie that sustains me.
Tremors 2 Aftershocks:
The most complete return of the cast we have to date, and all the old schoolers that came back was great. But you definitely feel a black hole left by the absence of my boi Kevin Bacon, that definitely wasn’t filled by the new guy they tried to replace him with. This is also the start of the bad tradition of giving the old character a new mumbling fool to tag along almost every movie. This is also the sequel where they best maintained the appeal of the original with the constant battle of outwitting one and another and constantly having to adapt to an increasingly smarter Graboids before they switched to more of an action focus. And despite the new Shrieker part of the life cycle isn’t as memorable. They do a good job to give a new threat to the crew and avoids a lot of the pitfalls of sequelitis and doesn’t just thread the same familiar ground. A Lot better than what we usually get from straight-to-video sequels.
Tremors 5 Bloodlines:
It’s not usual for something so late in a horror franchise to be of the upper half of quality but here we are. At this point, Burt (Michael Gross) has become the hero of this franchise and is the only returning actor from the original. And he is without a fail the best part about these movies. And despite being in his 60’s and have been doing this for over 20 years, he shows no signs of apathy or fatigue with the franchise and still gives his all in his performance. Especially one fantastic cage scene with him in the movie where we see no loss of physicality in the actor despite his age. Otherwise, this movie spurs to life with much better action pieces, fresh location and redesigns that makes sense in-universe with a much-improved ass-blaster (God I hate that name). And also this is the first movie where the CGI gets good, like surprisingly good. Doing biological and baggy creatures like the Graboids is very hard to get right so I’m surprised at how well integrated it is. And we also get one hell of a fantastic action female character in this movie that is both a mother and African, surprised that she isn’t celebrated more. Also, one of the better disposable side cast we have had. Didn’t care much for the twist with the mediocre new sidekick to Burt though. A very meandering start but one hell of a entertaining later part.
Tremors 6 A cold day in hell:
A better payoff from the twist in the previous movie and Jamie Kennedy’s character see some improvements. But it’s a bit of a bummer that the opening of the movie promises us a new terrain to fight the Graboids on, but instead pull out under us and give us more of the same. We also get another unnecessary addition to a new character being a descendant of the original cast. There is, however, more of a emotional drive this time around where they are dealing with the potential mortality of our almighty saviour Burt. I am also very appreciative that we are in 2018 and this franchise is still willing to use practical effects where needed, but in the end, this is what a “just fine” tremors movie looks like.
Tremors 4 the legend begins:
A point of desperation in the franchise where they decided to go the prequel route and show us the origin of The Town of Perfection (the home of the original) and the unknown first encounter with the Graboids. I’ll admit that I initially was excited with the concept of cowboys vs Graboids, but the movie ended up being mediocre that could be a slog at points. The movie got a pulse for a section where a hardened gunslinger entered but he sadly left us too soon. Gross got his chance on trying something new with instead playing a posh predecessor of Burt, but he sadly doesn’t compare to the gun nut we all know and love. A bit more sincere and involved side cast this time around though, but the movie was a bit afraid to kill them off so the Graboids feel less dangerous this time around.
Tremors 3 back to perfection:
Here we are, currently the bottom of the franchise for me. It isn’t all bad though, there is more humour this time around, and even though most of it falls flat there are some funny jokes there like the commercialisation of the tremors, and Burt is still as fantastic as ever. I don’t like the new stage of the life cycle they introduced, neither how they work or the name they gave them that is now stuck with the franchise. But otherwise it doesn’t really have much going for it, it just feels like a small budget and lacking retread of previous movies. So it has weak action, with lacking humour, forgettable side cast and everything was done better by some other movie in the franchise.
All in all I enjoyed my time with the franchise, it managed to maintain a higher quality than a lot of horror franchises of its size, despite the dips in quality here and there.there is also something special in watching Burt, the once wacky side character turn into a legend and the front lead of the franchise. He even is the man on the front of the boxset i have. Michael Gross is a fantastic energetic actor and it’s great to see that he never tires of these movies and keep giving his best. And in turn, we get an enjoyable and memorable performance.
Another interesting aspect of this series is how progressive it is. Throughout the franchise, every type of person are allowed into the spotlight at some point and kickass. They have had both males and females, Africans, Mexicans, native Americans, Norwegian, Chinese, Korean, Canadians, British and probably some unconfirmed ones too. And even though some slip through, they do manage to avoid a lot of stereotyping and create proper whole characters. It’s a weird but very welcomed aspect to find while watching these movies.
There is something special when you get intimate with a film series that is long past its prime. When you are on a ride where the series has created its own set of tropes and filmatic language through sheer self-indulgence of what it used to be, and then ironically forgotten what it was originally about and are going off in weird directions. Where you are so invested that it doesn’t matter what they do anymore, you are sticking just to see where they will go next. And I’m definitely in this for the long ride now and I’m going to see all the tremors that come out. The franchise is at a point where they will soon will have hit a wall of one-upping themselves (although they have kept a steadier curve than most). And that’s when the really weird and really great things start happening with a movie series like this. Where all pretence of having any idea what they are doing is over and they throw their arms in the air and yells “fuck it!”. And on that day, that glorious day. we will finally get Burt against Graboids on the moon.