Look Out In the Snow! (Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell, 2018)

tremors_cold_day_in_hell_cover.jpgBurt Gummer is back in the desolate town of Perfection. He is having tax problems, so when he is contacted by the daughter of Val and Rhonda (Kevin Bacon and Finn Carter’s characters from the first film) because their remote Alaskan research base is under Graboid attack, he and his Son Travis run off.

It all has everyone perplexed, as there seems to be no explanation for the Graboids to be so far north. Gummer starts to piece it all together when they discover a nearby Area 51 style base. But the Graboids start gobbling people up and the two groups have to team up to try and survive.

I have noted in the past I found it kind of interesting how the films migrated across time to focus on survivalist Burt Gummer as the hero.  The fifth film introduced his previously unknown son Travis and beefed up the graboids in size and appearance.  They also became more agile.

Gross seems to enjoy  the role, though it may simply be that at this point he has the core of the character down.  Kennedy’s Travis can grate on the nerves a bit, but there are several like-able characters, making it easy to avoid just rooting for the graboids to eat everyone.

The move in the fifth film to make more use of digital graboids (though, there are still practical monsters for some scenes) is less jarring than it could be.  For the most part, the digital monster look pretty decent.

As someone who enjoys the Tremors series, I found this to be a passable, even fun sequel.

Look Out In Africa! (Tremors 5: Bloodlines, 2015)

tremors-5The Director of next year’s Kindergarten Cop 2 (Starring Dolph Lundgren!) brings us the newest installment.  Returning Burt Gummer to the front lines, he gets talked into going a South African Wildlife Reserve by his new cameraman Travis (Jamie Kennedy).

Hijinks ensue.

The film opts to not create a new cycle in the life of the graboid, instead we find that the graboids of the continent of Africa are quite different from the northern hemisphere brand the series has focused on so far.  They appear bigger, yet sleeker.  The “Ass Blasters” have oval mouths that are filled sharp teeth and larger wing/arms.

Gummer and Travis are aided by the vet Dr. Nandi Montabu (Pearl Thusi) and her staff in dealing with the new graboid threat.  They run into various complications, both human and graboid.

Overall, I enjoyed this more than I expected to.  Gross and Kennedy have a decent connection as two guys rather irritated by each other.  The film has many fun homages to classic horror and sci-fi.  This is not a great film, by any means.  But it was a decent diversion.

Look Out…Uh…Back In Time! (Tremors 4: the Legend Begins, 2004)

tremors-4The fourth film (With S.S. Wilson Returning to direct) jumps back to 1889, with the founding of Rejection, Neveda.  This is the town that would become Perfection.  Michael Gross returns as the ancestor of Burt, Hiram Gummer.

The town is under siege from young graboids, and it falls to Gummer to do something about it.  Unlike Burt, Hiram is an upper class guy.  He is a bit of a snob, but still a decent person.  There is not a major twist here…the graboids are smaller gliding worms that have not yet matured.

The film has it’s moments, but I am unsure that this was a necessary prequel.  How is this not part of the town history?  How had nobody heard of the graboids?  It just ends up raising questions for the franchise.  Overall, it is not as enjoyable as previous entries.

Look Out Above! (Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, 2001)

tremors-3This film was directed by Brent Maddock, one of the other creators of the original film.  And as with the second film?  They try for a twist with another type of monster.  It is yet another stage in the life of the graboid.

This time around, they make Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) the center of the film.  It makes sense, he was a popular character in the franchise.  The film also managed to bring Tony Genaro,  Ariana Richards (Jurassic Park), Charlotte Stewart and Robert Jayne back to reprise their roles from the first film.

The town of Perfection has been running on the graboid phenomenon, much to Burt’s chagrin.  He has no respect for those trying to exploit the Graboids and feels the best thing is to simply kill them.  Which is hard, since they are being treated as potential endangered species.

The film relies on some of the tricks from the first two, but they add a new twist, graboid monsters that can fly.  It is close in overall quality to the second film.  Decent, but not quite reaching the original’s level of entertainment value.

Look Out Around (Tremors II: Aftershocks, 1996)

tremors_2_aftershocksThe success of the first Tremors on home video led to this direct to video sequel.  Writer S.S. Wilson returns to the franchise as director for this sequel.  It turns out that the years after the first film have not been kind to Earl (Fred Ward) who blew through his money from Graboid fame, he has parted ways with Val.

A Graboid fan named Grady (Chris Gartin) has a line on a way to make money.  He convinces Earl to join him on an expedition to Mexico to catch Graboids causing a problem for an oil refinery.  There they meet and are helped by geologist Kate Reilly (Helen Shaver).

Rather than totally repeat the first film by having the characters deal with what they know, the film introduces a twist.  The Graboid is only a stage of life…eventually, a graboid will appear to be ill, and then a new creature is introduced.  This allows the team to have to learn all new rules in dealing with the threat.

The film also brings back Michael Gross’ Burt Gummer.  It is fun to have the character back, though it is missing something as Heather (played by Reba McEntire) was part of what made Burt likeable.  He and his wife were two peas in a pod.

Again, the effects work is strong in the film.  The twists introduced with the new monsters make for fun and excitement.  The movie does not quite live up to the first, but it is still enjoyable.

Look Out Below (Tremors, 1990)

tremors-posterKevin Bacon saw a slight slow down right before 1990…his career was not in the crapper, but his draw had lowered a bit.  And  so he was available for a low budget horror flick.  Mind you, it was more a comedy with a sci-fi angle.  Had the film gone for being outright scary?  This would be a failure.

Instead, Director Ron Underwood (who followed Tremors up with City Slickers) opted to play to the comedic strengths of his cast.

Valentine (Kevin Bacon) and Earl are buddies and handymen in small town of about 20 people call Perfection.  In the middle of nowhere Nevada.  Both dream of getting out of the small town and becoming rich.  If only they had not stopped to check on Edgar, who is hanging on a telephone post.  They discover he is dead and leap to a theory of a serial killer.

They are wrong of course.  Cause this is a monster movie.  Tremors has a decent premise of giant worm-like monsters that burrow under the ground to catch their prey.  Val and Earl are not thrilled when they get stuck in Perfection, unable to reach help.

They, along with a visiting Seismologist named Rhonda (Finn Carter) lead the town in an attempt to get past the monsters.

The film did poorly in theaters, but was saved by home video.  It is no small wonder, as this is a fun movie.  The cast of characters are likable and entertaining, the standouts being Burt and Heather Gummer (Michael Gross and Reba McEntire).  They are survivalists who chose Perfection due to it’s isolation.  They love their toys.  McEntire and Gross are very memorable.

This is a good old fashioned monster movie.  It is not to gory, and is not about scares.  Yet the effects do not look cheap.  The monsters are convincing enough to seem like a real threat to be reckoned with.

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