100) Tremors (1990) Dir: Ron Underwood Date Released: January 1990 Date Seen: April 9th, 2009 Rating: 3.75/5
The first sign of trouble in Tremors (1990) is the rapidly increasing body count followed in short-succession by the cussword count. “Son of a bitch…pardon my French. Son of a damn bitch!” howls Earl (Fred Ward) right after Valentine (Kevin Bacon), his hetero-partner-in-crime, almost gets bit by a mutant snake-a-ma-jig. As far as portents go, that's pretty innocent but not so tame as to be totally inoffensive. A smattering of blood and a pinc of four letter words are so seamlessly incorporated into the film’s script that they’re not quite overtaxed nor really understated, which for the plot in question is just right—after all, this is a film where a jackhammer causes a geyser of tomato soupy-type blood to bubble up from the desert floor. They’re obvious but effective blunt instruments, just like any of the other, perhaps more subtle, signifiers that screenwriters Wilson and Maddock skillfully employ. Their script isn’t without a noticeable amount of unintentionally campy hiccups, but the rest of their film is sturdy enough to take it and then some.
Bacon and Ward’s harmlessly crude camaraderie is one thing but their chemistry is just the most prominent fixture in the film’s collection of good ol’ boys and girls. The community of Perfection, population 14, as a bullet-riddled sign announces, is endearingly eccentric and thankfully not gratingly quirky. The generic character types that they each fulfill are jointly conceived by both their performers and screenwriters with enough supporting detail to make them more than just forgettable, empty-headed oddballs. Their hang-ups and proclivities, like Burt and Heather Gummer’s (Michael Gross and Reba McEntire) defining obsession with an imaginary imminent apocalypse, almost always feel genuinely well-thought-out, which is the next best thing to feeling real when your film stars giant subterranean snake-things.