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Creature Feature Wednesdays: Kevin Bacon battles graboids in 'Tremors'

Tremors (1990)

Creature Feature Wednesdays continues in the dusty desert town of Perfection, Nevada, where Kevin Bacon (The Following) and Fred Ward (The Right Stuff) battle a group of prehistoric-looking creatures in the excessively enjoyable Tremors. While the movie was not a box-office winner, it has since amassed a loyal cult following and garnered its own financial success on home video, cable, and—surprise—the Internet.

Tremors as a whole is great—seriously, it holds an 84 percent rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, let’s dive into the finer points.

The simple plot

Tremors is very basic—in a good way. Bacon and Ward star as Val and Earl, local handymen in Perfection, a desert community. The two are looking to get out of their very small town when—uh-oh—a group of giant sand worms start wreaking havoc on livestock and, of course, the townsfolk. People (and horses and sheep) are killed. Plans are formed. The sand worms, or “graboids,” as they are officially named in the movie, are defeated. And humor permeates throughout, making Tremors a wild, fun ride for all.

Tremors - Graboid

The setting

There are only two interior locations in Tremors. Everything else is shot outside in the desert. This makes the setting just as much of a character as the characters themselves. At times, it’s dark, vast, and scary. But mostly, it’s sunny, dirty, and hot. No, I can’t feel the heat—but I know it’s there.

As for the graboids? The desert is their territory. Presumably, they’ve been there for hundreds (thousands? millions?) of years. They swim through the terrain like sharks through water. And, in truth, it’s arguably more frightening to watch (or not watch) the graboids in motion. You can see a shark underwater. But those sand worms? Lurking beneath the desert surface, they can grab you at any time—without warning.

Tremors - Perfection, Nevada

Burt Gummer

Played brilliantly by Michael Gross (Family Ties), Burt Gummer is a cinematic horror icon—at least for me, ranking up there with Ashley “Ash” Williams and Ellen Ripley. Gummer and his wife, Heather (delightfully played by Reba McEntire), are a duo of militant fanatics. They are survivalists who own just about every type of weapon imaginable—and their car license plate reads “UZI 4U.” Burt is incredibly over-the-top and paranoid. But he’s a badass—and is the first to actually kill a graboid (along with Heather) after it crashes into his home’s basement.

What’s even more awesome? Burt Gummer appears in all four (yes, FOUR) Tremors movies, and the short-lived TV series. Plus, he’s the only Tremors character to have his own Wikipedia page. That’s something.

Tremors - Burt and Heather Gummer

Fun Facts

Tremors is appreciated for its 1950s B-movie throwback feel. It was 1990, and the movie creatures were fabricated by hand—not computer. The result: slimy, weird awesomeness.

Every year or so, rumors of a fifth Tremors movie appear—and now it looks like it’s actually happening! Come October, Tremors 5: Bloodline will be released direct to video. Jamie Kennedy (Scream) costars and … Michael Gross is back as Burt Gummer (obviously)! Another bright spot: It’s penned by John Whelpley, who also wrote Tremors 3: Back to Perfection—my second-favorite in the franchise.

Tips for viewing: With the exception of a few, these movies are not masterpieces. Don’t view them as such. Don’t take them seriously. Watch them with friends and create your own commentary—on the acting, editing, bad choices, etc. And remember—have fun!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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