Director: Ron Underwood

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter

Year: 1990

Tremors was Ron Underwood’s first/only good film, it was all downhill from there, which, I guess, is what happens when you peak too early with what hilariously wouldn’t be too hyperbolic to call a perfect movie.  The fact that it happens to be about giant, flesh-eating, underground slugs not withstanding, Tremors is perfection wrapped in a 90-minute bubble, a project completely independent from reality and genre that somehow works magnificently, despite all odds.  I dug it when I was younger, I dig it to this day, and watching it again only cements that it is heedlessly excellent in so many ways, often because it doesn’t care, often because it seems to get the smallest details right when others would have just skimmed over the minutiae.  This wacky sci-fi/horror/comedy really makes you wonder how much luck is involved in getting it right, since not many have been this unqualified and yet this brilliant.

In Perfection, Nevada, the lives of the town’s 14 residents are about to become anything but perfect, and they’ll be lucky to leave with their lives intact.  Two local handymen named Val & Earl stumble upon a series of gruesome murders, starting with Edgar treed up an electric pole, and continuing with Old Fred buried up to his neck in the sand.  It’s a long way to the next human habitation, so no help is coming, and it quickly gets much worse; this is no human killer on the loose, this is something much more …natural.  Something, or some things, are underground and eating people, tracking them by their sound on the surface.  Val & Earl are unlikely heroes, but they must lead the resistance against the “Graboids” and help the townsfolk to safety, with the aid of the much smarter Rhonda, a grad student who is in the wrong place at the awfully wrong time.

It’s just that Tremors is amazing, and I’m not sure how we can continue watching movies knowing that entertainment topped out and has been failing to live up to a 90s flick ever since.  I jest, but this movie really is that tight, with a story, characters, and action that exist on a closed set and are independently awesome.  They would go on to make a series, but those all sucked of course; there’s no improving on what worked so well the first time around.  Our lead dudes are funny, fumbling, but somehow lovable, and it’s amusing to watch Kevin Bacon in this way.  The rest of the actors are just background really, but they do no harm, even Reba McEntire, who couldn’t act if her red hair and country twang depended on it.  No one needed to act in this film though, it was the perfect little skit, with surprisingly good physical effects and realistic fantasy, an all-around applaudable cult classic that never loses it appeal.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆