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Top Five creature moments in the Tremors franchise

TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL, the sixth film in the TREMORS creature feature franchise, will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 1st (you can pick up a copy at THIS LINK), and to mark the occasion I wanted to take a look back at some of the best creature moments in the films that preceded it. Since there are five other movies to choose from, I decided to pick my favorite moment involving the creatures from each one of the films - much like I chose my favorite kill from each of the five Charles Bronson DEATH WISH movies last month. (There were some cool creature moments in the short-lived Tremors TV series that aired back in 2003 as well, but for now we're just focusing on the movies.)

So let's take a trip down a monster-filled memory lane and revisit some of the fun the Graboids, Shriekers, and Ass-Blasters have provided over the years.

TREMORS - The Wrong Damn Rec Room

The film that started it all does an incredible job of gradually revealing exactly what sort of creatures the residents of Perfection, Nevada (population 14) are dealing with. At first, it seems like the ravenous beasts that are moving in on the geographically isolated desert town are a legion of snakes that are pulling people, animals, and objects into the ground. It takes about 35 minutes for characters to realize that these "snakes" are actually the tentacle-tongues of much larger creatures they'll come to call Graboids - each Graboid being equipped with three tentacle-tongues. The threat of these subterranean monsters and the fact that they hunt prey by sensing the vibrations of sound and movement has been well-established when we cut away to the characters of Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) and his wife Heather (Reba McEntire) making a whole lot of noise in their basement. A Graboid comes busting through a wall... and quickly finds that it has broken into "the wrong damn rec room", because Burt and Heather are well-armed survivalists who proceed to pump many rounds of ammo from multiple weapons into the giant man-eater. Each of the four Graboids in the film are destroyed in a cool and memorable way, but Burt and Heather blasting away at this one is my favorite Graboid demise.

 

TREMORS II: AFTERSHOCKS - Frosty Fred Ward

The Graboid problem in Perfection was taken care of, but a few years later a whole lot more of the monsters show up to terrorize the Petromaya Oil Field in Chiapas, Mexico. Perfection resident Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) accepts the well-paying job of eliminating this new batch of Graboids, and eventually finds himself so overwhelmed that he calls in good ol' Burt Gummer for assistance. After a while (about halfway into the movie), Earl, Burt, and their pals discover there's another stage to the Graboid life cycle when each of the creatures splits open and releases a few smaller creatures called Shriekers from within their guts. The introduction of the Shriekers completely changes the game, because these bipedal heat-seekers are a very different threat than the Graboids, while still being just as insatiably hungry - largely because they reproduce asexually after eating a certain amount of food. The characters have to find ways to hide their body heat from the Shriekers, and my favorite creature moment in this film comes when Earl is sprayed down with fire extinguishers so he can infiltrate a building full of Shriekers to retrieve one of the many bombs Burt has brought with him. A frosty Earl trying to get past the Shriekers makes for a fun and tense scene, and when he has achieved his objective we're gifted with the sight of a spectacular explosion.

 

TREMORS 3: BACK TO PERFECTION - The Jonah of Perfection

The Graboid life cycle is completed in TREMORS 3, where we learn that Shriekers eventually molt into creatures called Ass-Blasters, which are able to propel themselves into the air thanks to a mixture of combustible chemicals in their rear ends. The Ass-Blasters attack the town of Perfection (official population now 5), but while they manage to kill a returning character from the first film and cause Burt to blow up his own house due to a wrong assumption, and while it is fun to watch Burt - who takes care of a Shrieker problem in Argentina in the opening scene - and his companions battle the creatures and blow them to pieces, my favorite creature moment actually comes before the introduction of the Ass-Blasters. It's a scene in which a Graboid swallows Burt. Thankfully, Burt survives because he was inside a barrel when he was eaten. From underground and inside the monster's guts, Burt has to get another Perfection resident to trick the Graboid into slamming itself into the concrete wall that surrounds Burt's property. An embarrassed Burt is then extracted from the belly of the dead beast - cut out of it with a chainsaw. The movie finds a way to have someone survive being eaten by a Graboid, shows us the sight of a Graboid getting chainsawed open, and humiliates Burt all within the same scene. That's definitely what I call a great creature moment.

 

TREMORS 4: THE LEGEND BEGINS - A Graboid gets Punted

We've seen every stage of the Graboid life cycle by this point, but we haven't yet seen the baby Graboids that emerge from the eggs laid by Ass-Blasters. That's the new monster sight this prequel, which is set in 1889, has to offer. As it turns out, the Graboids had attacked Perfection a hundred years before the events of the first movie, back when the town was called Rejection and one of the people in town was Burt's great-grandfather Hiram Gummer (also played by Michael Gross) - a wealthy and pampered fellow who gets more likeable as the film goes along. While the sight of baby Graboids launching themselves out of the ground to attack people is fun, my favorite moment involves the demise of a full-grown Graboid. It's interesting to see how 19th century characters find a way to deal with these underground monsters, and during this endeavor Hiram develops an appreciation for firearms that will some day be passed down to his great-grandson. He gets his hands on a massive weapon called a punt gun, which was used for hunting ducks, meant to kill a whole lot of fowl with one shot. With this huge gun, Hiram blows a huge hole through a Graboid, and it's a moment that would surely make his great-grandson proud.

 

TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES - Arrows in the Ass(-Blaster)

Burt would probably be shocked to learn that his great-grandfather also fought Graboids, but not as shocked as he is in this sequel when he finds out he has an adult son named Travis (Jamie Kennedy). Father and son go hunting Graboids and Ass-Blasters together in South Africa, where the creatures get a re-design because the South African species is said to be different than the versions of the creatures we've seen before. I'm not too pleased with their new look, or with the Graboids' newfound ability to launch themselves out of the ground (that's for baby Graboids, not adults), or even with the fact that the tentacle-tongues can now detach and go off on their own, but there's still some enjoyment to be derived from Burt's battles with them. And with the battles other characters have with them. My favorite creature moment in my least favorite TREMORS film comes when an Ass-Blaster attacks a couple characters in a kitchen, a sequence reminiscent of the Velociraptor kitchen sequence in JURASSIC PARK. This one comes to an end when Dr. Nandi Montabu (Pearl Thusi) shoots a couple arrows into the Ass-Blaster. A woman hunting monsters with a bow and arrow? That's awesome.

Those are some of the great moments we've already seen in the TREMORS movies. Now we're about to find out what sort of memorable creature moments TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL might have in store for us.

Extra Tidbit: What are your favorite creature moments in the TREMORS films?

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