Saturday, 25 April 2009

DVD Review - Tremors

There’s something afoot (or rather, underfoot) as Val McKee & Earl Basset (played by Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward) start to leave the sleepy town of Perfection, Nevada, looking for a better life and, specifically, better pay. When they realise how much danger the town is in, they race back to their friends, enemies, and cute seismology student Rhonda LeBeck (Finn Carter). But how will the menace be thwarted? Will even the local Sheriff’s impossibly large arsenal of weapons be enough to stop whatever it is that’s causing the tremors they’re all feeling? Will Val ever realise his true feelings for Rhonda and if so, will it be before one or other of them is eaten? Will Earl ever stop making jokes at the expense of his partner in crime? Will they be able to stop the underground terror or will Val and co. be ingested before you can say “help me Rhonda”?

All of these questions, and more, can be answered by watching this great little film. I hadn’t been expecting to enjoy it anywhere near as much as I did, but for its genre (comedy sci-fi disaster thriller) it’s a near classic.

Tremors is so enjoyable largely due to the performances of Bacon, Michael Gross & Reba McEntire (the Sheriff and his colleague / wife), and particularly Fred Ward, who is brilliant and extremely funny. Combine this with a tongue-in-cheek humour that works far better than the standard disaster movie formula would have, an inventive script, and some extremely effective special effects (especially as none of it was CGI), and you have a real winner here. The storyline has a few surprises to throw at you, one or two shocks (wifey jumped a good two feet off the sofa at one point), and never succumbs to sentimentality.

None of the other cast members shine. Finn Carter is adequate in her role but cheesy in inappropriate places) but they’re not bad either. Co-Producers Brent Maddock and S S Wilson’s script delivered a few surprises and made the most of what was actually a pretty basic concept (albeit one that had been stewing in their minds for years). The balance between drama, tension, and comedy is very well balanced, for which much credit must go to Director Ron Underwood (in only his third – and probably best - film as a director). Some of the camerawork is pretty impressive too (cinematography by Alexander Gruszynski). The musical score by Reba McEntire (yep, her again), Ernest Troost (who’s composed the music for quite a lot of films, none of which I’ve heard of) and Robert Folk (who is uncredited – he did the music for the Police Academy series, among many other films) doesn’t disappoint either.

As a DVD package it falls short, however, depriving the film of a 5-star rating in this case. There’s a couple of music videos guaranteed to give you a severe headache and a “making of” documentary that, like so many others, has the potential to be really interesting but the material is put across in such a laborious and self-congratulatory fashion that it’s more likely to cure your insomnia than fascinate you. It’s a real shame, too, because parts genuinely were interesting (Particularly how the effects were created and the Producers’ reaction to the news that singer Reba McEntire was to be in the film!) If only the studios would give the film creator’s a little guidance and editing rather than let them ramble on endlessly in a less than glorious monotone…

A great film, substandard extras. Well worth getting hold of (especially if you can get it fairly cheap), with a bit more thought on the making of (or just leaving out the “bonus” extras!) this would have been a 5-star product. Especially recommended to fans of Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, of course. (I hadn’t really seen either in much but I started becoming a fan after watching this…)

In the UK this film is rate 15 (not suitable for under 15's), and I think this is about right. There's not a lot of bad language, just one or two words, but some scenes are a little gory and frightening for kiddies. Not sure about 13/14 year-olds, but definitely not for anyone younger.

Thanks for reading,


If you’re a sci-fi buff, see also my Top Ten Sci-Fi Films.

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