close
close

Here come the Graboids! Don’t worry, because where there are graboids, there always will be (always) be Michael Gross. Since then, the subterranean worms with the incredibly silly name have been making the earth tremble Tremble debuted in 1990. Since then they have appeared in another six (count em’ up, six) direct-to-video movies.

family ties Star Michael Gross appears in every single one. His Burt Gummer is the connective tissue that holds it up Tremble-verse together. Even when the franchise was doing a prequel (Tremors 4: The Legend Begins) and it wouldn’t have made sense for Burt Gummer to show up, life (and Michael Gross) found a way. He played Gummer’s descendant Hiram, expanding the mythology of the House of Gummer.

Does a film without the presence of Michael Gross even deserve the name “Tremors” in the title? Here’s hoping we never have to find out. This series of comedy-horror riffs will never go to Cannes, but that’s not the point. They’re fun to look at and there’s a real possibility they’ll never stop making them. Michael Gross himself, currently over 70, is open to more.

In honor of the Graboids, the Shriekers, Kevin Bacon and Michael Gross, it’s about time the films of the Tremble Cinematic Universe. For your convenience, they are all currently streaming on Peacock.

7. Tremble: Shrieker Island (2020)

It’s still fun, we’re still laughing, but what can you do with this concept seven films later? This is the latest entry in which Jon Heder joins the stalwart Michael Gross. If you wanted to see Napoleon Dynamite battle a new breed of “Queen” Graboid, then saddle up.

There are some odd moments here where the film echoes parts of the original, such as a scene where Burt recalls a tactic once pulled by Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward. It’s upsetting because wow we’re a long way from 1990.

The worst thing about this movie is, spoiler alert, the death of Burt. It’s respectful, we think. He gets a memorial and the credits are dedicated entirely to the character, but… no. Burt Gummer says never die, so we won’t have any of it, please. If they do another one, you can bet your ass blaster they’ll revive it.

If this is the end of the saga then we suppose it makes sense. Still, we’d rather jump into the future and watch as Burt’s great-great-grandson, Lockjaw Gummer (played by Michael Gross), battles skyscraper-sized Graboids with the help of giant robots and megalasers. Yes, all robots would wear Burt Gummer hats.

Maybe they’ll save that for the eighth movie, or maybe they’ll get inspired now after reading this great article. If that’s the case, you’re all welcome!

6. Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004)

Have you ever wondered how House Gummer really began their journey down the shining road of destiny? If so, step up to the only prequel in the series to set the Graboid action in 1889.

The failing city of rejection becomes perfection at the end of the film. Burt’s ancestor Hiram is building a house right where Burt’s house is. He learns to shoot and enjoys it. That’s the legend.

We like this one quite well, but if anything, they may have played things a bit too safe for our liking. There’s good use of pickaxes, but crazier uses of Wild West weapons would have been welcome. You get some of that, but we wanted more. Hiram Gummer lassoing a Graboid while riding on another Graboid’s back and yelling “yeehaw” should exist, right? That was the franchise’s opportunity to give us that.

We’ll get over it, but it’s hard.

5. Tremor 5: Bloodlines (2015)

Burt Gummer has his own survival show! This is (almost) the biggest contribution this installment makes to the ongoing saga. It also brings Jamie Kennedy along.

It’s almost memorized now, as there are assholes left and right, an attempt at romance, and people making bad money-grabbing decisions with Graboid-related things. The most memorable part of this is a new breed of Graboid that Burt calls “Queen Bitch”. It has detachable tentacles and offers Burt a whole new nest of trouble.

Michael Gross ends up adopting Jamie Kennedy? That’s fine, but it means Kennedy’s character is returning for the next film and the defeated Queen Bitch isn’t. We’d prefer it the other way around, but we’re not the kings of Tremble.

4. Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001)

We’re back to perfection, as the title suggests. Not only do we have Graboids and Shriekers, this entry introduces Ass-Blasters. My friends, we have arrived.

Michael Gross takes full control of the franchise here and retains control of every film that comes after. Some actors from the original return, including Jurassic Park Actress Ariana Richards.

What is our general premise? A new guy has tried to turn Perfection into a tourist destination. This takes about five seconds before anything goes wrong. The government then tries to stop our heroes from fighting the Graboids because they claim they are an endangered species. You guessed it, they want to take one alive.

After much ass-busting mayhem and an attempt at a romantic subplot, we end up with Burt Gummer using the “endangered species” element of the Graboids against the government. He also made friends with one? That’s right, Gummer and the Graboid known as “El Blanco” (a Graboid with albinism) share a kind of connection.

For us, the best scene in the movie is Burt being swallowed by a graboid and then cut out with a chainsaw. Things like that change a man.

3. Shivering: A cold day in hell (2018)

We don’t know why we like this particular entry as much as we do. The arctic locale is the only big change, so maybe that’s why? At this point, the franchise knows exactly what it is. It refuses to apologize. It features more ace blasters and an even more over the top performance from Michael Gross.

Officially the last person left in the abandoned town of Perfection, Burt Gummer gets pulled back into the action pretty quickly. Although Kevin Bacon isn’t here, Val McKee and Rhonda LeBeck’s daughter is. The Bacon bloodline survives thanks to Dr. Valerie McKee giving you a connection to the original film outside of Michael Gross.

This is the point where the movies stop numbering themselves, and that means it’s full speed ahead to Sillytown. We rent an apartment there so it works for us.

2. Tremor 2: aftershocks (1996)

Both Kevin Bacon and Reba McEntire were set to return for this film, which was originally intended for cinemas. But Bacon did Apollo 13McEntire had singing commitments and the producers realized they would make more money if this was a direct-to-video affair.

Fred Ward returns as Earl Basset from the first film and is hired to kill Graboids in Mexico. He needs the money because, and I’m not kidding, he lost all his money on a failed ostrich farm. (The ranch itself was a loser; it wasn’t a ranch for ostriches who were losers themselves. If that were the case, this would be number 1.)

Michael Gross is of course at his side with advice and action, as is Helen Shaver as Dr. Kate Reilly. This is Fred Ward’s film and Earl and Helen end up together. This film also introduces the “Screamers” to the franchise, and much of the “scientific” talk about them hasn’t aged well at all.

Still, the presence of Fred Ward ties it to the original classic more than any other film, and it begins the ongoing trope of some jerks who want the heroes to capture one of the graboids alive. We’d say this dawning franchise sequel hasn’t hit full camp yet, but come on – a “failed ostrich farm” is why the reluctant hero is dragged back into chaos.

1. Tremble (1990)

Although it was a disappointment at the box office, Tremble was a surprise hit with critics and became an instant cult classic. After that, he made six films, which is a testament to how much fun this original episode is.

It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but doesn’t delve as deeply into the ultra camp of the latter entries. It stars Kevin Bacon, has a few really awkward moments, and most importantly, it introduces the world to the greatest doomsday prepper in cinema history: Burt Gummer, played by Michael Gross. Fred Ward is also on hand to deal with the Graboids underground so that’s a big help.

The real joy of this film is the result of a last minute attempt by the producers to avoid an R rating. F-bombs abound in the original cut, to try to make it more commercially viable the producers overdubbed much of the chosen words. That’s why one of the Graboids is referred to as “Motherhumper” at one point. The dubbing is obvious, the actors seem to join in the fun, and it’s a classic that has always been on TV at some point. If you are watching any of these movies then this is the one for you.

All of the Tremble Movies are currently streaming on Peacock.

day of the Dead

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.