The first time I saw the commercial for Tremors (1989) I was hooked, but what the hell was Kevin Bacon doing in it? And with a southern accent? Bacon doesn’t do monster movies, or southern accents. Back then I was less forgiving with actors who were cast against type. I loved Tremors because at the time there was nothing like it you could compare it to other than, maybe, monster movies from the 50s. Since then it’s not the only movie any longer about giant, underground worms wreaking havoc upon human society. I’m thinking of that SyFy movie, Sand Serpents (2009) now, which—I cannot believe I’m saying this—was a pretty decent, for a SyFy flick that is. As in the CG worms were rendered competently.
When I heard Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996) was going into production I wept for joy, and also loved that one too upon first viewing. It was pretty ingenious to make the worms from the first movie another stage in some kind of bizarre development they go through, and the result this time was the two legged, blind, heat sensing “Shriekers,” as they were dubbed because of the awful shriek they emit when they target prey. I knew Bacon would never do another Tremors movie, especially one that was targeted for a direct-to-video release, but at least they managed to get Fred Ward and Michael Gross to reprise their characters.
Tremors 3: Back To Perfection hit DVD in 2001 and this time the only actor they could get back was Gross, but I was cool with that, since I also ended up loving this follow-up too. It was obvious now each Tremors sequel had to reinvent the worms, or give them another stage of development, and that Gross’ Burt Gummer was the one human consistent that tied all of them together. Here the worms “evolved” yet again, still keeping the two-legged concept, but this time adding a type of rudimentary wings and a propulsion system that gets them into the air by igniting their own farts. Is it any wonder then this new stage would get dubbed, “Ass Blasters?”
Now we come to the one serious misstep the franchise makes, but one I initially thought was a good idea at the time, and still is, had the execution been done a lot better, Tremors becomes a series on the SyFy channel. Tremors: The Series debuts in 2003 and ends it’s run the same year telling you pretty much how ill-received it was. They killed the show after only 13 episodes. Again Gross’ Burt Gummer is the star, but the supporting characters I thought were all wrong and not relatable, plus the stories weren’t all that interesting. I think they even tangled with other kinds of monsters other than worms. I can’t remember now. Anyhow at some point I’ll probably pay it a revisit, since I only caught a few episodes. During this time they decided to make yet another direct-to-DVD movie, this time a prequel, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004), explaining how the small town of Perfection, Nevada became the graboid capital of North America. It was a western. I never saw it. I saw the trailer and it looked, basically, cheap. All four movies are in one collection, on DVD and Blu-ray, and I plan to get the blu-ray collection soon, so I’ll most likely give this prequel a watch and see how it compares. But that’s where the franchise ends.
In the intervening years there have been rumors about a remake, which gained ground for a little while, before it was revealed to be a sequel. Good. During the making of this new sequel Kevin Bacon finally publicly acknowledged he had made peace with his role in the first flick. Common knowledge stated it wasn’t one he really wanted and subsequently had a hard time reconciling the fact he was doing a “monster movie.” He also commented he’d love to do a new movie with the original cast, the characters that lived through the first one that is. And I was agreeing wholeheartedly with him, it would be great to see Bacon, Ward and Gross battling Graboids again. I’m guessing something like that would all depend on how much of a hit this new sequel is. Which now brings me to Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015).
Thank God this franchise redeemed itself with this new entry. Knowing how each movie pushes the development of the Graboids into new stages I was wondering, my God, what more can they do with them? The answer to that turned out to be pretty damn sweet. You see not only are Graboids native to North America (Tremors/Back To Perfection) and Mexico (Aftershocks), but they have now been discovered in South Africa, specifically in an area called the Cradle Of Humankind, but Graboids down here are different. There difference is actually mirrored in Mother Nature where generally tropical variations of, say, certain spiders and insects are more colorful, weirder and deadlier. I’m also thinking of those poison arrow frogs found in some tropical jungles that are colored like little rainbows and exude a lethal poison. Well, African Graboids aren’t that different. They may not be extravagantly colored, but they are deadlier, bigger and leaner than their North American counterparts. The only stages on display in Bloodlines are the first stage worm and the third stage Ass Blaster, and the South African Ass Blaster is nothing to sneeze at—it’s big, mean and hunts at night to better zero in on our body heat. Both stages sport weirder physical characteristics. The Blaster mouth configuration is totally different. Something you have to see. I have no words to describe it. The African worm form is very cool too. They tunnel through rock by corkscrewing their bodies. They hunt in a different fashion as well. Once they find you they don’t come up underneath but leap from the ground, corkscrewing through the air and gobble you up in one fell swoop as they hit the ground again tunneling back into the earth. And to make them infinitely more dangerous their tentacled, worm tongues can detach from the main body and go after you, which in actuality would probably make them separate organisms all together, something along the line of “Graboid parasites” I would guess. So climbing up high on some rocks wouldn’t help because the tongue worms would slither out of the “mother Graboid” and up the rocks to get you, which happens to one poor dude. The mouth design on these “parasitical worms” was slightly reminiscent of the tentacled mouths on the octopid beast from Deep Rising (1998).
What’s the plot you may ask?
Burt Gummer is now a reality star. He has his own show called, The Survivalist With Burt Gummer, and the movie starts out with snippets of this show and a quick re-education on the many stages of the Graboid. Burt keeps the population in check in Perfection, and entertains the public at the same time. But changes are a comin’. His cameraman has moved on to a new gig and the new camera guy looks an awful lot like a forty-year-old Jamie Kennedy. It is. Jamie is Travis Welker, the son Burt Gummer never knew he had. But that doesn’t get revealed until later on in the movie. Burt and Travis are swindled by poacher, Erich Van Wyk (Daniel Kanks), into coming down to South Africa to hunt what he believes is an Ass Blaster doing damage to the local inhabitants, once down there Burt learns how much worse everything is. Namely how different these Graboids are from the ones he’s used to hunting. To make matters worse the government has confiscated all his weapons and he has to make do with some inferior ones supplied by Wyk.
Wyk wants the Blasters captured, Burt wants to kill it, because that’s what you do with Graboids, you kill them. I can’t argue with that. Regardless, Wyk’s hunting buddy, Johan Dreyer (Brandon Auret), assembles a huge cage and Burt tries in vain to go along with the “capture” part of their plan.
We meet a Dr. Nande Montabu (Pearl Thusi), the owner of this animal conservatory and her potential boyfriend, Baruti (Rea Rangaka). There’s a bit of a triangle with her and Travis. Baruti’s cool, he’s one of the good guys though.
I cringed a little when Director Don Michael Paul recreated the kitchen-Velociraptor scene from Jurassic Park (1993), using an Ass Blaster, Baruti and Nande’s daughter. Unnecessary, but it entertained nonetheless.
This entry is a tad gorier than the others, which should please gorehounds somewhat. You get a severed arm, a bloody skeleton, a bloody local who doesn’t get saved in time and another gore shot I simply could not make out. It’s inside the cave the Ass Blasters are lairing in, and Travis spots a body, but it’s seen by the light of his flare and you will not make out any detail. It’s obviously in a horrendous condition for it freaks out Travis, but even in freeze frame I could not tell how that Ass Blaster fucked this dude up.
Most importantly the CGI worms are very well rendered. I did not have a problem with any of the computer effects in this flick.
All in all I was thoroughly entertained by this new sequel and hope they either make another big budget sequel or at least another direct-to-DVD one. Stick around for the end credits for right in the middle they stop and show you what became of Gummer and Welker when they left Africa. Apparently, they now do a reality show hunting monsters, like something you might see on the Destination America channel.
On October 6th Universal Pictures releases Tremors 5: Bloodlines on solo DVD and in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio/5.1 English: Dolby Digital/5.1 French Dolby Digital/5.1 French DTS/5.1
German DTS/5.1 Italian DTS/5.1 Japanese Dolby Digital/5.1 Portuguese Dolby Digital/5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital/5.1 Spanish DTS/5.1 Thai Dolby Digital—English SDH, French European, French Canadian, Castilian Spanish, LA Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Arabic, Cantonese, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Swedish subtitles
- Deleted And Extended Scenes (10:21)
- Outtakes (6:47)
- Tremors 5: Behind The Bloodlines (8:10)
The outtakes aren’t that funny, and in the deleted scenes there was an action scene filmed but none of the FX were put in. Gross and Kennedy had all their scenes in the can, but I’m guessing they didn’t have enough money for everything they wanted to do with this flick, so something had to go. If they had the cash we would have seen the worm chase after them in their truck, knock down a bridge and go after Kennedy under the water. Too bad, it would have given the worms a new territory to conquer. So far we have no idea how functional they are in water.
I had a ‘what if’ scenario in my head years ago I’d love to see in a sequel. What if the worms were evolving towards something humanoid, something that could possibly replace mankind. But I’m on board with anything they have up their sleeves, if another movie gets made, except for a remake.
(Note: Until we get some kind of new special edition of these flicks with accompanying commentaries may I suggest all you Tremors fans seek out the book, Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide To Tremors).