In praise of Tremors

Kevin Bacon has problems with his tremorrhoids. 


Last night I watched the film Tremors.  I’d seen it before, and I’m not usually one for watching films more than once, unless I found them incomprehensible the first time and I want to check that it wasn’t just me, but I saw it in the TV listings, and thought to myself, ‘You know what, I really want to see Tremors again.’

If you haven’t seen it, Tremors is a relatively low-budget creature feature from 1990 with Kevin Bacon, who’s in most films, as all actors have to appear with him six times before they’re allowed their equity card, or something.  A small town in a desert valley is terrorised by giant worms that live under the ground, popping up to feed on the surface dwellers, with very exciting consequences.

By the end of the film, I had to admit to myself, that I really, really like Tremors.  In fact, if given a choice between seeing some three and a half hour Oscar-winning masterpiece about some mumbling gangster, and just watching Tremors again, I’d go for Tremors every time.  

But why do I like it so much?  I think it’s because it’s a simple, unpretentious film in the spirit of the great B-movies of the 40s and 50s without aiming for tiresome pastiche.  It just happened to turn out that way. It sets up its main idea very quickly, explores the implications of that idea with energy, enthusiasm and general good-naturedness, and then takes its leave.  There’s not an ounce of fat on it.  I don’t know if there’s been anything quite like it since.  Snakes on a Plane tried, but was far too knowing about it all, self-consciously announcing its intention to be unself-conscious all over the Internet ages before release.

Another film made at the same time that strikes a similar note (although admittedly doesn’t fit any conventional definition of ‘good’) is Far From Home, starring Drew Barrymore in her teen wilderness years.  The film’s pretty hard to describe, but it involves a serial killer, a trailer park, some really OTT acting by supporting characters, great desert photography, and Drew wearing three watches, as was the style at the time.  If you ever get a chance to see it, do so.  Like a pervy driving instructor, it may well touch you in an odd way.

(I was intrigued to find that the writing and directing team of Tremors first collaborated on a short film made in 1980, called The Reference Section.  IMDB describes it thus:

This groundbreaking educational film was widely praised for its use of special effects. Followed the adventure of a young boy (Chong) desperately trying to finish a school project in the Library, while being harassed by a gang of bullies lead by Billy (Aylesworth). In an attempt to evade his tormentors, the boy hides in the libraries reference section, when all of the books ‘come alive’ and begin to speak. Led by a talking Encyclopedia, the boy is taught how to research and complete his book report. In the end, the bullies are locked in the reference room and subsequently attacked by the books! 

Wow, sounds great.  Loads better than the educational stuff they used to show me at school like Wordy and Noseybonk.  Not better than The Boy From Space though.  Nothing’s better than The Boy From Space. Run, Peep Peep, run!)


2 Responses to “In praise of Tremors”

  1. TomCobbold Says:

    I too absolutely love the film Tremors. I’m a Tremors-oholic. In fact, I’m even a fan of the other three films (Tremors 2: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection and Tremors 4: The Legend Begins) and the short lived 13 episode TV series. Maybe the rest aren’t the same quality as the original film (no Bacon for a start) but they all retain the B-Movie charm and general likeability. The character of Burt Gummer stars throughout and I have recently heard news that they are set to film a fifth film in Australia. Those pesky worms have turned up on the other side of the world. If only more films were as charming and funas Tremors. The world would be a better place.

  2. I LOVE Tremors, thus I consider you to be alright in my book.

    I haven’t yet written a book, mind, but when I do you most certainly will be alright in it.

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