Story: Val McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Basset (Fred Ward) might live in Perfection, Nevada, but to them, even Perfection isn’t an ideal place to reside. The town is remote and isolated, which to Val and Earl makes life feel like one dead end after another, so they plan to leave once and for all. Just when they finally get the gumption to actually leave Perfection, they run have a run in with some giant carniverous worms, which have devoured a squad of road workers. The two decide to head back into town to warn the others, as the creatures seem to be en route to feast on the locals. The locals band together to try to fend off the creatures, but they find limited success. With four creatures to deal with, the townsfolk have to depend on gun power and good old fashioned luck to survive, but could this be the end of Perfection?
Entertainment Value: This is a fun one. Tremors feels like a throwback to the old, old school monster movies and audiences have embraced it, turning it into a cult classic in its own right. The movie has spawned numerous sequels and even a television show, so it is clear Tremors resonated with viewers and it remains a popular franchise even decades after this original. The narrative is a classic b movie inspired one, but the dialogue drives Tremors more than the story and that isn’t a complaint, as the characters here are so colorful and memorable. A premise that allows a wacky ensemble to spout quips and battle giant worms is fine by me, though I am sure some will find it too hokey or over the top. I would agree on both counts, but in the best ways, as Tremors is hokey, but so much fun, while the over the top elements are executed to near perfection. The movie has a brisk pace, but doesn’t feel rushed and to me, I could have watched another hour of this kind of entertainment. The special effects are fun to watch and have a b movie texture, with the graboid sequences as highlights, of course. I always have a blast with Tremors, so this is an easy, high recommendation.
When I think of the early Tremors films, I always remember Fred Ward and how he nails his performances as Earl Bass. I will say he really shines in the next installment, but Ward is terrific here and gets what the movie is trying to do, so he embraces the b movie approach. This leads to a good performance that sees Ward dial up the camp at times and scale back at others, never going fully over the top, but keeping that balance throughout. He delivers the dialogue like a master, making the corny, b movie quips land like pinpoint strikes, especially the wackier exchanges. He and Kevin Bacon have great chemistry and share a lot of scenes, so we get to see a wealth of hilarious back and forths between the two. Bacon goes a little more over the top, but again, knows how to reel it in when needed. The cast also includes Reba McEntire, Michael Gross, and Victor Wong.