Ron Underwood has had a pretty good directing career, with this as his first film, although he was an AD on Tourist Trap. His career is all over the place genre-wise, with City Slickers, Hearts and Souls and Mighty Joe Young doing well before The Adventures of Pluto Nash failed. He’s since done well in TV, directing episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Boston Legal and Fear the Walking Dead. And, like nearly every horror director from the 80’s, he’s put out several holiday movies such as Santa Baby, The Year Without a Santa Claus and Holiday In Handcuffs.
Valentine “Val” McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) are sick of life in Perfection, Nevada. They decide to leave town for Bixby, the closest big city, but are stopped when they find the body of Edgar Deems up in a tower, dead from dehydration. Before you know it, they’re under assault by gigantic worms called Graboids and working with seismology student Rhonda LeBeck (Finn Carter, How I Got Into College) and survivalists Burt and Heather (Michael Gross and Reba McEntire) to figure out how to survive.
There’s a great supporting cast on hand, like John Carpenter stock actor Victor Wong as a general store owner, Bobby Jacoby, Ariana Richards (who battled even bigger creatures in two Jurassic Park movies and the third sequel to this series, too), Charlotte Stewart (Mary X in Eraserhead and Bettie Briggs on Twin Peaks) and Bibi Besch (The Pack, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).
This movie did just OK in theaters before becoming a rental and cable success. It was such a big deal that it has since become an entire series of films, including 1996’s Tremors 2: Aftershocks (Fred Ward came back, as does Michael Gross), 2001’s Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (Gross stays on and Ariana Richards comes back) and the 2004 prequel Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, which is set in 1889 and has Gross playing the role of Hiram Gummer, Burt’s great grandfather. These films were all made by the original creative team of Underwood, Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson.
Eleven years later, Universal made Tremors 5: Bloodlines with an all-new cast and crew, save Gross. That movie was followed by Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, which brought back Jamie Kennedy as Burt’s son Travis and Gross and last year’s Tremors: Shrieker Island, which closes out Burt’s battles against the Graboids, Dirt Dragons, Ass-Dragons and Shriekers. There was also a TV series as well that aired on SyFy and a pilot for a new series was made in 2017 but wasn’t bought.
Before making this movie, Kevin Bacon really thought his career was over. He screamed to his pregnant wife Kyra Sedgwick, “I can’t believe I’m doing a movie about underground worms!'” But by the end of the movie, he’d admit that making Tremors was the most fun he’d had in his entire career. As for Gross, he basically walked off the set of the last episode of Family Ties and on to the desert location for this movie.
Now you can see the best version of this movie ever thanks to Arrow Video. There’s a new 4K restoration from the original negative, approved by director Ron Underwood and director of photography Alexander Gruszynski, on blu ray and UHD. There’s also new audio commentary with Underwood, Maddock and Wilson as well as a second version with notes from Jonathan Melville, author of Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors.
There’s also a new documentary about the history of the film series, several interviews with key cast and crew members, a feature on the overdubs to remove profanity for the TV version and an entire disc full of extended interviews, outtakes and three early shorts from the film’s makers. Plus, you get a 60-page perfect-bound book, several posters and a set of postcards.
If you love this series — and seeing how they made so many of them it stands to reason that many of us do — this is absoutely the most perfect version you’re going to get of this, unless you go out and find a Graboid for yourself.