Tremors, today’s only monster movie franchise worth writing about. Famous for Graboids, Kevin Bacon, and the inadvertent rise of Michael Gross as the defacto star. When the first Tremors was released in 1990 (dumped rather unceremoniously in the movie graveyard that is January) it had a brief but respectable box office run before being relegated to live out the rest of its life on VHS. But this was only the beginning. Tremors made a splash when it was released the following summer on VHS, kickstarting an iconic franchise with surprising longevity but not much consistency.
The first Tremors is considered one of the greatest monster movies of all time. The four direct to DVD sequels have spawned a cult like following and have led to the development of two separate TV shows. To embrace the Tremors franchise is to accept all of it, the good and the bad.
Tremors (1990): The one that started it all. The only truly great Tremors film and a near perfect creature feature. Come for Kevin Bacon but stay for the stunning practical effects. Definitive proof that sometimes the greatest movies come from the strangest ideas (and then go on to spawn four mediocre sequels). But for right now, just sit back and enjoy, because there’s no better way to start this binge.
Best Scene: To quote the words immortalized forever by Burt Gummer: “YOU BROKE INTO THE WRONG GODDAMN REC ROOM YOU BASTARD!” Classic Burt.
Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996): This is going to sound harsh but Aftershocks is by far the worst Tremors movie. The good news? Now is a great time to relax, maybe grab another drink because that’s the only way to get through this movie, or at least keep you busy until Burt Gummer appears about halfway through the movie. As with every Tremors movie, the action picks up considerably once he’s on the scene.
Best Scene: Despite being an awful movie, there’s still a great display of practical effects used during this film, especially the scene where Earl, Burt and co. capture and observe a live Shrieker (the second stage of the Graboid life cycle) right before it gives birth.
Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001): Ahh what a breath of fresh air. After recovering from the mistakes of Aftershocks, this is the film that finally realizes that Michael Gross is the true star of this franchise (apologies to Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward). The action is moved back to Perfection (no pun intended) where we are reunited with characters from the first film not named Valentine or Earl, as well as Burts bunker underneath his house, now 100% Graboid proof! I would like to point out that this is the only Tremors movie to be rated PG, a fact that makes absolutely zero sense, but it gives this movie the honor of being the only family friendly Tremors film. So grab the kids because there’s still two movies to go!
Best Scene: Burt being swallowed whole by a Graboid and then carried underground in its stomach for miles before crashing into his own bunker might be one of the best visual gags this series has ever produced. At least until the 5th film.
Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004): Tremors 4 really halts the momentum of the previous 3 films. It’s not really a bad film, it just feels terribly misplaced. Any Tremors junkie will appreciate the Graboid lore and kitschy dialogue that we’ve come to love, add in series staple Michael Gross playing his own great-grandfather, and you have a solid Tremors movie.
Best Scene: Sometimes it’s the simple things but watching a Graboid burst up from underneath a campfire and then launch itself through a hammock is a definite high point of this movie.
Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015): This movie seems strangely out of place when binging this franchise all at once. It’s definitely better than Tremors 4, so rest easy, because Burt Gummer is back and better than ever! That’s right Michael Gross steals the show yet again, 25 years after the last Tremors film and 12 years since playing the role of Burt on Tremors the TV show, it’s abundantly clear that no one else could ever play this role like Gross does. In this Tremors, Burt is paired up with a new cameraman and sent to South Africa to investigate possible Graboid activity. It takes some strange turns to say the least but definitely worth watching until the very end.
Best Scene: I feel obligated to say that the best scene was Burt Gummer trapped in a cage getting peed on by a lion BUT the best scene is actually at the beginning when we discover just what Burt has been up to this past decade -- starring in his own reality show, which in true Tremors fashion is just as over the top as you would expect.
If you’re feeling fatigued at the thought of watching all these films, worry not, because we can definitively tell you that the original Tremors is the only essential viewing here. But if you find yourself intrigued by a series of films that feature creatures known as Graboids, Shriekers, and Ass-Blasters, then sit down and strap in because there’s plenty of content here to enjoy. If you are already a fan of the franchise then we know for sure you have a favorite, let us know in the comments! And browse the rest of HorrorRated for other creature features that just like this one!