Oh, Tremors. Nothing delights me more than a campy, cheesy, comedic, horror flick from my favorite decade: the 1980s.
Actually, it was 1990, but I’m assuming they started filming in ’89, which makes this even more perfect: a hybrid ’80s/90s film. Add in some ginormous and cranky earthworms and Kevin Bacon, and you pretty much have the greatest movie ever to grace your screen.
Let’s take it apart and discuss in this totally serious movie review.
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Tremors: A Totally Serious 80s/90s Movie Review
First of all, in this epic tale of graboids beneath the cracked dessert dirt, we meet Earl and Val – played by Fred Ward and a skinny Kevin Bacon – two slightly grimy but still dreamy lads living in Perfection, Nevada (population 16, and we get to meet just about all of them).
When they’re not eeking out a living as handymen, they spend time combing their fabulous mullets and trading barbs.
Now when I was but a youngin, a starry-eyed whippersnapper who was only recently granted permission to watch PG-13 movies, I played this one over and over until the VHS tape disintegrated. A recorded copy I had made in 23497837.448 easy steps,* it had been edited for television.
* Do you remember programming your VCR back in the day? It took three weeks, suppressed rage, and a college degree to accomplish it.
This meant that there was no cussing in my movie: instead of saying bad words that would have gotten me sent to another week of bible camp just for listening, my copy had Val and Earl saying things like,
GOSH DARN IT! Pardon my French.
– TV Overdub
When I finally saw the unedited, oh-so PG-13 version, my ears turned pink and I signed my thirty-something year old self up for an extra week of bible camp.
The annihilation and destruction of Perfection (which ironically reminds me of Christmas Valley, Oregon, in the misnomer of town titles. It is neither joyful nor triumphant) begins with some poor innocent victims, as all good, self-respecting horror films do.
The local highway repair crew bites the dust (but no one misses them much. Have you seen the highway in Perfection?), as do a lovely retired couple in their shaggin’ wagon.
It is most tragic.
But before the town can panic too much, we are introduced to Rhonda LeBeck, the wholesome seismologist with a stripper name. Stripper LeBeck was played by Finn Carter, who did NOT go on to make more fabulous movies due to what I can only assume was her realization that she had already made the Best Movie Ever and so retired happily for all time. I mean, that’s what I would have done, so more power to you, Finn.
P.S. We miss you though.
With her lightly permed hair and her streak of sunblock on her nose, Kevin Bacon proceeds to tuck in his shirt and use his best manners. In a town with a population of 16, this visiting scientist is looking pretty swell to the boys. They get so moony they almost forget about the death worms beneath their feet.
A good girl will do that to you, can I get an amen?
While Val Bacon and Rhonda Stripper make eyes at one another and fantasize about how their as-yet unborn children will have curly mullets one day if they survive this, we get to meet some more townspeople.
Poster children for the NRA, Burt and Heather (Reba McEntire and Michael Gross) are the neighbors you want on your side should graboids invade your ‘hood.
I mean, if my town doesn’t have their own equivalent of Burt and Heather Gummer, then I don’t wanna live there.
Sure, you can pretend y’all only want wheatgrass sippin’ feelin-the-Bern vegans on your street, but when the rubber meets the road, you need the Gummers.
Get it? Rubber meets the road? Just a little graboid humor for ya to lighten the mood.
With the help of Rhonda, the brains of the operation, Perfection’s residents come to the conclusion that the worms of death are tracking them through vibration. Hence, you make too much noise and you’re toast.
Or more specifically, something you would smear on toast.
This valley is just one long smorgasbord.
– Val Bacon
Not all of Perfection’s inhabitants are as helpful as the Gummers, Rhonda, Burt, and Val though.
Another character in the town is Melvin Plug, the world’s worst teenager. You’ll spend most of the movie hoping he becomes toast shmear.
Then there’s little scamp, Mindy, who nearly kills everyone as she merrily frolics on her noisy, vibration inducing, pogo stick.
Because when murderous monsters are devouring all your loved ones in sight, good mothers forget about their ten year old daughters and leave them to wander around the dessert to be A.) kidnapped by sex traffickers, or B.) lured into a paneled van with candy, or C.) torn limb from limb by giant earthworms.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, Nancy. It’s been a long day, and you obviously sewed your jumper by yourself, plus French braiding your own hair takes time. We all misplace a rugrat here and there. Don’t even worry about it.
Stranded now, scared to even bat an eyelash (which keeps the flirting between Val and Rhonda to a minimum sadly), the villagers must come up with a plan to end this all-you-can-eat buffet for the creature.
BTW, you know the fits gonna hit the shan when the sleeves get ripped off. Ain’t nobody got time for sleeves when Bacon’s driving the tractor.
Anyway, Rhonda has a close call when her pantleg gets tangled up and the graboid hears her rustling around on the ground. She’s trapped!
JK. What he really yells is,
Take off your pants!
And for a second there, Rhonda wonders if she’ll be hashtagging metoo, and her dreams of Val being the perfect gentleman fizzle out … then she ends up realizing he’s right, merely looking out for her perfect gams, and she should listen to him, and indeed wriggle out of her pants.
Mama always said to wear clean underwear. Now we know why.
Because you might need to run through Nevada in your granny panties while a pissed off earthworm the size of an RV chases you.
Now that the crew knows how to lure them around Perfection, thanks to Mindy and her pogo stick of death, they have to figure out how to kill the gosh darn fatherless worms, pardon my French.
“We gotta do somethin’?” I don’t know why “we” always has to be me every damn time. We, we, we. What do I look like, an expert in worm?
Modesty and humbleness aside, Val comes up with a plan to save the day and get his girl (and her pants).
The only sad part is, Melvin survives.
Actually, this right here is likely why Finn Carter didn’t go onto become a big movie star. Anything else would have been downhill from here. Everything’s better with Bacon.
And there you have it: the greatest ’80s/90s movie about killer worms ever made. Watch it here.