Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Kevin Bacon” with a minor in “Giant Subterranean Penises”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week Supercult pole-vaults from one boulder to another in order to bring you Tremors!
Val McKee and Earl Basset are handymen in the isolated town of Perfection Nevada, where the desert is hot and the population is a manageable 14 residents. The most interesting thing for miles is the new arrival Rhonda, a graduate student conducting seismology tests. Things change however, when Val and Earl get tired of their meager lifestyle and attempt to leave for the next town over and they become aware of a monstrous subterranean threat that is intent on picking them off one-by-one! Can the small town and its residents defend themselves against these strange creatures that attack from below? Finally, a monster movie that breaks new ground! It’s Tremors!
Starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, country music singer Reba McEntire (in her feature film debut), Charlotte Stewart, Tony Genaro, Ariana Richards (3 years before her role in Jurassic Park as the “It’s a Unix system! I know this!” girl) and even Victor Wong (aka Egg Shen from Supercult Classic Big Trouble in Little China), Tremors is quite possibly to most underrated movie of the early 90’s. Released in 1990, writer S.S. Wilson said that he got the idea for the film while he was working for the US Navy in the California desert. While resting on a rock, he imagined what it might be like if something underground kept him from getting off the rock.
Tremors was directed by wannabe cowboy Ron Underwood who, despite being known for the B-movies he made early on like “Mighty Joe Young” and Eddie Murphy’s “The Adventures of Pluto Nash”, has actually spent the majority of his career directing episodes of TV series. Among his credits are Boston Legal, Ugly Betty, Heroes, Desperate Housewives, Burn Notice, Castle, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Grey’s Anatomy.
The town set was built in about two months, but there are only two interior sets in the entire movie: Walter’s Store and Bert & Heather’s basement. Every other shot in the film is an exterior. For the scene in which Rhonda had to get out of her pants to escape the Graboid about to eat her, actress Finn Carter intentionally didn’t rehearse the scene. That way the response she gives to having to depants in front of Kevin Bacon in less than 5 seconds was authentic. Tremors was released in Germany under the name “Im Land Der Raketen-Wiirmer”, which we think translates to “In the Land of the Rocket Worms”. It was also initially given an “R” rating by the MPAA not for violence but for language. As an appeal, producers removed all utterances of the “f” word, with the exception of one – when Kevin Bacon says, “Fuck you” to the dead worm.
The creature designs for Tremors were done by Amalgamated Dynamics, an, at the time, brand new special effects, prosthetics, and animatronics house that had only worked on one film prior to Tremors. The full-scale worm, that can be seen after Val digs it up, was made of foam. It was placed in a trench, buried, and dug up again to achieve desired effect. Amalgamated Dynamics went on to work on many well received films such as Jumanji, Mars Attacks, Cast Away, Spider-Man, and X-Men: First Class. They also contributed to many Supercult worthy films like Mortal Kombat, Starship Troopers, Evolution, Alien vs. Predator, Dragonball: Evolution, G-Force, and Skyline. Ya win some, ya lose some, I guess…
The worms themselves were supposed to be completely dry, not slimy. This was changed when it was remarked that the gloss paint effect made them look like they were covered in nail varnish. One idea by the special effects crew was for the worms to have an outer shell. When above the dirt, the shell would retract to reveal a slimier ‘inner worm’. However, many production members started to giggle at the ‘phallic’ resemblance it had with a foreskin, so this was changed to the big worm sprouting several smaller worms from its mouth. Leave it to the effects crew to attempt to put “giant subterranean penis” on their resumes.
In an interview with The Following Kevin Bacon said that prior to the film’s release he had felt the film was a new career low: “I broke down and fell to the sidewalk, screaming to my pregnant wife, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing a movie about underground worms!'” Understandable especially considering he previous roles in critically acclaimed films like Friday the 13th, Forty Deuce, and Footloose. Despite Bacon’s misgivings, critics praised Tremors for its diverse cast and humor. Roger Ebert called it “a goofy, fun, dumb movie,” while TV Guide said, “It may not top anyone’s 10-best list, but Tremors is nevertheless solid entertainment.” However, Tremors had a rough time at the box office grossing only $16.5 million domestically from an estimated budget of $11 million. HOWEVER, the film became a runaway smash in the home video market and ultimately tripled its original box office with VHS sales and rentals. As a result Tremors was followed by three direct-to-video sequels: Tremors 2: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, and the prequel, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins”. It even spawned a short-lived TV series on the Sci-Fi channel!
The numbers don’t lie Supercultists! Tremors has an amazing 7.2 on IMDB and an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. Tremors balances perfectly on the edge of comedy and horror, never losing its edge or it’s light-hearted tone. It’s the perfect popcorn movie, and also a great excuse to keep your kids out of the sandbox on the playground.
Lock up the pogo-sticks and remember to walk without rhythm!
The Supercult show is proud to present Tremors!