TREMORS fondly recalls monster movies of the 50s, and wisely treads a middle path between knowing sendup and cannily crafted chiller.
Trying to escape their dead-end life in the desert town of Perfection (population 14), handymen Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) find themselves sidetracked when corpses mysteriously begin piling up around them, the causes of death ranging from the strange (an old drunk is found halfway up
an electrical tower dead from dehydration) to the unknown. When the handymen have a run-in with some creepy tentacled creatures that have apparently made lunch out of a road crew, they realize they are in deep trouble and retreat to the town to spread some hysteria and prepare for Mankind's last
stand against a really disgusting menace: giant, foul-smelling, flesh-eating, mutant maggots.
TREMORS bends its movie cliches just enough to keep the action interesting and entertaining. One of the most fondly held conventions of 50s horror films was to withhold a straight-on view of the monsters until late in the picture; in TREMORS the beasts emerge early in the action, which, in another
departure from convention, takes place almost entirely in broad daylight. The special effects are first-rate, with the maggots easily withstanding extended camera scrutiny. Another upended convention places a female scientist (Finn Carter) in the thick of the action, although she contributes
little to our knowledge of the beasts and, before long, becomes irritated by the questions of the excited townsfolk. It turns out that the dumbest guys in the movie, Val and Earl, contribute the most towards eradicating the big bugs, with their prime motivation being to get the job done so they
can continue their rudely interrupted journey out of Perfection.
You don't have to be a perennial late-night movie vidiot to get a kick out of TREMORS. It's fast-moving fun for kids of all ages who harbor a secret delight in movies starring gooey, smelly monsters. It's also very well cast, with Ward and Bacon proving affable and enjoyable comedy leads. Carter
also has an offbeat appeal as the irritable woman of science, while Michael Gross and country star Reba McEntire, in a most unlikely film debut (she also wrote and sings the end-credit song, "Why Not Tonight?"), provide solid support as a survivalist couple who dispatch one of the creatures in a
hail of bullets. It may not top anyone's 10-best list, but TREMORS is nevertheless solid entertainment.
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