For those of you that are familiar with my blog, you know that I enjoy a movie that knows what it is, and that can give itself a wink.
This next one does just that, close to better than any other movie I’ve already written about.
“Creature Features” used to be about the jumps, the loud screeches, the shock, the aw–they became comedic in the 60s and 70s (excluding “Jaws” and it’s brilliance) when the audiences started realizing how phony all of the props became and “Mystery Science Theater” had a purpose. I feel that the creators of this movie knew that they could create an atmosphere of suspense and danger, while encouraging us to laugh along with them.
Like all great Creature Features (and taking a lead from “Jaws“) we start out with an unknown force from below that can attack at a whim and devour a person in seconds…when I say below, I mean underground.
Yes, this movie borrows a lot from “Jaws,” in a good way and creates one of the most interesting monsters for a Creature Feature in a while. An underground “land shark” if you will…and there’s more than one. Why not ratchet the tension up?
“Tremors” offers more than suspense and laughs. For instance, I truly enjoyed the chemistry between Kevin Bacon‘s Valentine McKee and Fred Ward‘s Earl Bass. I will be as bold to say that I’d put it right up there with Robert Redford and Paul Newman in “The Sting” or “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” There is a true sense of life struggle, camaraderie, frustration, and years of understanding that these two share within the first minute of their screen time together. We get a sense that the two of them know what the other is thinking, and could really finish each other’s sentences if they needed to.
I have a limited number of people in my life that can sit in a room with me during a meeting, read the expression on my face, and know what I will want to do about the challenges we are facing together to remedy the situation, just by looking at me. Having a bond like that with a co-worker, friend, spouse, can alleviate a lot of pressure and allow for confidence and support as they know you are aware of what to do, and will not need to have another discussion about it as you carry on with your problem solving.
Valentine and Earl share that bond. What better interesting blue-collar duo to save the world from these monstrous freaks of “pseudo nature?”
Many people die along our journey…it is a Creature Feature after all, and the necessity for danger must always be at the forefront if we want to stay interested. The monsters turn out to be more formidable than expected throughout the endeavor and leave us clenched to our seats until the final, fulfilling moment of truth.
I’ve had a recent post about the “Silence of the Lambs.” Those of you that have read me for some time are familiar with my “Jaws” post as well. Those movies were very great at creating true tension against very honest environmental antagonists. “Tremors” is aware from the get go that we’re dealing with a fantastical element that no one has seen before, and attempting to create a tone of absolute crisis would be dishonest with the spectacle matter. There is tension, but there are also deep breaths that allow for pause, with humor and wit. After all, when was the last time you saw the town drunk get eaten feet first by an underground, overgrown crustacean with five eel tongues?
Didn’t think so.