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Monday, March 26, 2018

Tremors II: Aftershocks (1996)

The Tremors franchise review keeps rolling along. In this first sequel, we lose Kevin Bacon but still have Fred Ward as Earl. Let us see how things in the Graboid world have matriculated. Be warned that much like the movie I’m assuming you have some familiarity with the original Tremors. If not check out my review for it here.

Things start off like any good Tremors movie should with someone trying to avoid becoming a victim to the large underground worms and failing. We find out later that this happens in a large oil field in Mexico. This prompts the company to come looking for someone to take care of the it. Got Graboids? Who you going to call? Val and Earl of course. But Val (Bacon’s character) bows out off-screen which leaves just Earl and his new sidekick to take the job. The oil company is paying well, and Earl needs the money.

The pair arrive, and things go well. So well that Earl has to call in backup. There are a lot more Graboids this time so of course the man for the job is everyone’s favorite survivalist Burt Gummer, played again by the awesomely fun Michael Gross. Burt being Burt he brings some serious hardware! I mean the Mexican army was giving them whatever they wanted so he got a lot. Many subterranean terrors are destroyed before things go sideways for the trio. The Graboids evolve and while dying spawn out some two-legged monsters that run around hunting everyone with their heat vision. Much like one of the characters says in the movie, “It’s a whole new ballgame.”

I’m a sucker for this franchise and love the Graboids and everything else that comes from them. Since I mentioned the spawning the first thing that I wanted to mention was how ingenious it was to switch the monsters up like they did. There were a whole set of rules created in the first movie and while it starts off that way in the sequel halfway thru everything changes. That allows for the story to go a different direction and keep things from getting stale. It also allows for some pretty funny bits of dialogue including survivalist Burt Gummer saying, “I am completely out of ammo. That’s never happened to me before.” No matter how many times I’ve seen this movie I still laugh at that line! Heck one of the best parts about the original is how long it takes before we really see the creature. Here we have a sequel that does the same thing by mixing it up. I’d never seen that in a monster movie franchise before. The filmmakers aren’t willing to stick to the status quo. This is one of the reasons I love the Tremors Franchise and why I think it is still around. That and Burt Gummer of course!

Uh Oh... Burt is completely out of ammo!
Something else the movie does well is get right to the story. It wastes very little time rehashing the monsters and gets to the good stuff. I don’t know about you but when I sit down for a monster movie I want blood, monsters, and maybe some explosions. Tremors II hits all those buttons early and never lets up. And of course, again we get a lot of guts flying around and landing on the characters. This is a reoccurring theme in the franchise and I look forward to it.

Finally, we need to talk about the creatures. We get a lot of practical effects work. There are actual rubber monsters on set for the cast to interact with. I always prefer that over CGI so seeing the practical work was great. That said Tremors II is a product of ‘90s and didn’t have a huge budget so we also get some dated computer generated stuff. Mostly when the bipedal critters show up they are done in puppets for the tight shots. But when they run or move it is CGI and honestly looks bad. I get why they did it that way, but it is distracting. I get the feeling that the filmmakers knew it didn’t look great because it looks like they minimized it as much as possible. That is really my only complaint with this otherwise solid sequel.

I love monster movies and I love the Tremors franchise. While not as good as the original I still enjoy and recommend this first sequel. I’m excited that we still have three more movies to go before we are done with it.

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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