Sandworms, rejoice! Tremors was released theatrically in the United States on this date in 1990. It was the film that allowed the common earthworm to be linked to Will Smith in the formerly popular party game ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’. One part monster movie, one part siege film, and wholly entertaining, Tremors was directed by Ron Underwood. Underwood wrote the film with Brent Maddock and S.S. Wildon, who also produced the film alongside the legendary Gale Ann Hurd.
Though it wasn’t a huge box office hit, audiences found a giddy thrill in revisiting the sandworm sensation through home video and frequent television broadcasts. Since its initial 1990s release, Tremors has achieved a fairly sizeable cult status.
Tremors spawned Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996), which paved the way for Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001), which led to Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015). There was a brief television spin-off called Tremors: The Series in 2003.
None will ever touch the absurd, corn-fed, early 90s perfection of the original.
The Original “The Floor is Lava” Story
The OG Tremors centres on the tiny desert town of Perfection, Nevada. It is surrounded by sand, mountains, and not much else. The town is a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone else’s business and foibles. A fresh-faced and cowboy-hatted Kevin Bacon is our audience surrogate. With his affable partner Earl (Fred Ward), Bacon’s Valentine “Val” McKee performs odd jobs for the rest of the townsfolk and waits for the perfect woman to sweep him off his feet. Earl and Val are good old boys, willing to do chores for their neighbours for beer and sandwiches. But they’ve grown tired of their tiny town and want to leave.
On the day that they agree to make their move, Perfection suddenly becomes a LOT more interesting.
They discover the body of a fellow resident at the top of an electrical tower, where he apparently died of dehydration. The mystery deepens with the discovery of a severed head, an unexplained rock slide, and the disruption of phone service. But this is no ordinary serial killer at work. If it were, then Tremors wouldn’t have had half of the charm that it does. Instead of a machete-wielding maniac at large, Tremors delivered a new breed of killer: enormous, hungry, incredibly strong sandworms with a taste for human flesh.
With the help of Rhonda LeBeck, a seismology grad student working in the area, Val and Earl soon figure out that the sandworms (nicknamed “Graboids”) track them through their footsteps, leading to the deadliest game of “The Floor is Lava” ever committed to film. The story is ridiculous, the characters are likeable, and the practical effects are actually kind of cool. Did I mention that Reba McEntire is in this? And that she plays a gun nut? Honestly, her role alone is pretty much worth the price of the VOD rental.
In honour of the 28th anniversary of the film’s release, I wanted to share 5 Fun and Freaky Facts About Tremors. Enjoy!
1. Tremors Was Almost Titled “Land Sharks”
If you think about it, the premise of Tremors really IS basically Jaws, but underground. So, it does sort of make sense that Land Sharks was the film’s working title for a while. Thankfully, the far more subtle (and borderline-sophisticated in comparison) Tremors was chosen as the final name. Although, we did miss out on a potential Land Sharknado crossover.
2. Tremors Made Kevin Bacon Cry
After the incredible success of his career-maker hit Footloose in 1984, Kevin Bacon thought that he was on his way to something big. However, he made a string of failed pictures coming off of his Footloose high. Prior to the release of Tremors, he had a breakdown. As he told The Telegraph:
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!’
Lucky for him, Tremors was actually kind of amazing, and his career definitely rebounded.
3. The Worms Transform
If you’ve only seen the first film in the series, you may believe that escaping the killer worms isn’t a big deal. After all, there isn’t much to them, right? Wrong, pal. Starting as early as Tremors 2: Aftershocks, we start to see the worms developing new traits and appendages. The first sequel introduces a new group of Graboids called Shriekers who have the ability to walk on land. Tremors 3: Back to Perfection add a new metamorphosis to the story, a group of monsters able to fly and given the charming nickname “Ass-Blasters” for their jet propulsion flight methods. In Tremors 5: Bloodlines, we learn that even larval Graboids are lethal and able to jump from the ground to attack.
So, all of those Graboid Survival Plans that you developed after seeing the first film five times? You can toss those out and start from scratch with this new knowledge!
4. The Worms Have Been Around a While
You may think that the Graboids are a consequence of nuclear accidents, or modern toxins, or maybe secret government experiments. You’d be wrong, though – as the 4th sequel demonstrates, the worms have been around for a long time! Just as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and Back to the Future 4 did before it, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins deepened the mythology by heading back in time. This sequel takes place back in the 1880s, at the original mining settlement of Perfection, Nevada.
5. The Series is Ongoing
That’s right – you can look forward to seeing a sixth sequel bursting forth to video in May 2018, if all goes according to plan. The newest movie will be called Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell. Maybe we’ll get to witness a new Graboid evolution. Maybe Kevin Bacon will surprise us with a cameo. Will you be checking it out the latest in the franchise? Let us know in the comments!