Tremors (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ron Underwood
Produced by Gale Anne Hurd
Brent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
Screenplay by Brent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
Story by Brent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
Ron Underwood
Starring Kevin Bacon
Fred Ward
Finn Carter
Michael Gross
Reba McEntire
Music by Ernest Troost
Robert Folk
Cinematography Alexander Gruszynski
Edited by O. Nicholas Brown
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • January 19, 1990 (1990-01-19)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $11 million
Box office $48,572,000
For the television series of the same name, see Tremors (TV series).

Tremors is a 1990 American western monster film directed by Ron Underwood, written by Brent Maddock, S. S. Wilson and Underwood, and starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, and Reba McEntire. It was released by Universal Studios and is the first installment of the Tremors franchise.[2]

The film was received well by critics and holds an 84% favorable rating at the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.[3]

The film was followed by three direct-to-video sequels, Tremors 2: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, and Tremors 4: The Legend Begins. Thirteen episodes of Tremors: The Series, a television program based on the film series, aired March through July 2003.[4]


Valentine "Val" McKee and Earl Basset work as handymen in Perfection, Nevada, an isolated ex-mining settlement in the high desert east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Perfection is home to 14 residents, among them general store owner Walter Chang, and survivalist couple Burt and Heather Gummer. A new arrival is Rhonda LeBeck, a graduate student conducting seismology tests.

Val and Earl tire of their hand-to-mouth existence and leave for Bixby, the nearest town. They discover another resident, Edgar, dead at the top of an electrical tower, though still holding on to the beams with a .30-30 Winchester rifle. Jim Wallace, the town doctor, determines that Edgar died of dehydration, apparently afraid to climb down. Elsewhere, shepherd Old Fred and his flock are attacked by a force that drags him underground. Val and Earl arrive, only to find the sheep cut to pieces and Fred's severed head buried in the sand. Val and Earl return to Perfection, thinking a murderer is on the loose. They warn two road-construction workers they encounter, but to no avail. After Val and Earl leave, Carmine, the worker using a jackhammer to break up asphalt, stabs something under the ground, causing orange blood to erupt on the surface, before getting dragged underground, while the other worker is killed by a rock slide.

Val and Earl discover the town's phones dead and head for the police in Bixby, but are thwarted by the rock slide, which had downed the phone wires. They return to Walter's store, where they find something wrapped around their truck's back axle: the severed body of a large, snake-like creature. That night, the creatures attack the doctor and his wife, killing them both and pulling their car underground.

The next morning, Val and Earl leave to get help, this time on horseback. They discover the doctor's buried car. As they press on, the attackers suddenly erupt out of the ground, revealing the creatures they have seen thus far are actually "tongues" employed by an enormous burrowing worm-creature that Walter later names "graboids". Thrown from their horses, the two men run for their lives. When they jump into a concrete aqueduct, their pursuer rams through its wall, killing itself. Rhonda happens upon the scene and determines from her readings that three more creatures are in the area. They realize the creatures have extremely acute hearing, and find them due to their vibrations, but cannot tunnel through rock. One of the creatures traps the trio overnight at a cluster of boulders, where they speculate the creatures' origins. Rhonda has the idea of pole vaulting from boulder to boulder to reach her truck, and they return to town.

They are met with disbelief from the townspeople until a graboid appears, disabling Val and Earl's truck. Everyone retreats into their homes or the store, hoping the downed phone lines and the rock slide will eventually bring help, but the graboids make that impossible. When a graboid bursts through the store's floor and drags Walter away, the residents are forced onto the roofs.

The Gummers return to their home after unsuccessfully hunting the creatures - unaware of their true size - and contact the others by CB radio, but the noise of the couple's cartridge case polisher leads a graboid to smash into their basement. The Gummers open fire with various firearms and manage to kill it, but another graboid disables their vehicle. After retreating to their rooftop, Burt and Heather experiment with firing into the ground, but discover they are too deep underground for firearms to be effective. In town, the graboids attack the foundations of the buildings, knocking over Nestor's trailer and dragging him down underground. Realizing the town is being dug out from under them, Val and Earl plan to escape on a dump trailer with flat tires pulled by a bulldozer, which is too heavy for the graboids to move. Val reaches the vehicle while the others distract the graboids. Everyone is collected, including the Gummers, who bring with them an assortment of weapons and improvised explosives, and they set out for the safety of a nearby mountain range.

The graboids dig a pit-trap in the bulldozer's path, wrecking it. The townsfolk use Burt's home-made explosives to drive the creatures away long enough to reach the safety of a boulder, where Earl has another idea: tricking the graboids into swallowing Burt's bombs. This works once, but on the second try, the last graboid spits the explosive onto Burt's pile of bombs, sending everyone scattering. Val, Earl, and Rhonda are stranded yards from the boulder, with the graboid blocking their path to safety. Val has one more bomb and one last idea: he lets the graboid chase him to the edge of a cliff and "stampedes" it with the bomb, then jumps out of its way, sending it through the cliff-face to its death. The group returns to town, where they call in the authorities to begin an investigation of the graboids, and Earl pushes Val into approaching the clearly interested Rhonda romantically.



Poster/DVD cover art for Tremors was designed by Universal Studios. The cover was originally going to feature an actual graboid, but Stampede Entertainment believed Tremors would be better if audiences did not see the creature until it is revealed to the characters in the film. Universal agreed, but decided to use a close-up of a graboid tentacle with shark teeth for the poster instead.[5]


Principal photography took place in Lone Pine, California. The mountains in the distance are the Sierras.[6] After filming was complete, the original set was completely torn down.[citation needed]


The creature designs for Tremors were done by Amalgamated Dynamics. The full-scale graboid, that can be seen after Val digs it up, was made of foam. It was placed in a trench, buried, and dug up again to achieve desired effect.[7]

Burt's elephant gun, an 8 gauge Darne Shotgun, was rented from a private collector for uses in the film. It fired dummy cartridges custom made from solid brass rod stock.[8][9]


Tremors debuted in theaters on January 19, 1990, and on DVD on April 28, 1998. Tremors was first released on Blu-Ray on November 9, 2010,[10] and again on September 17, 2013 as part of the Tremors: Attack Pack In region 1 (U.S. & Canada).[11] In the UK the Attack Pack was not released on Blu-ray, instead the second, third, and fourth films were each released separately on August 5, 2013.[12]


Tremors / Bloodrush
Film score by Ernest Troost
Released 2000
Genre Electronic, Stage & Screen
Length 49:51
Label Intrada – ETCD 1000

The soundtrack for Tremors was composed by Ernest Troost, and released in 2000. The album contained nine tracks for Tremors, as well as four additional tracks, also composed by Troost, for Bloodrush.[13] The album was released for promotional purposes as a limited edition CD.[13][14]

No. Title Length
1. "Titles / Opening Sequence"   3:14
2. "Val & Earl / Rhonda"   2:46
3. "Something's Wrong"   6:57
4. "First Attack / Pole Vaulting"   5:13
5. "On The Rocks / Graboid / Uzi4u"   7:34
6. "On The Road / Miguel's Plan / Nester"   3:16
7. "Val's Run / Don't Move / The Dozer Rescue"   3:36
8. "Journey Begins / Truck Attack / The Rocks"   2:58
9. "Goin' Fishin' / Stampede / Closing"   2:56
No. Title Length
10. "The Hospital"   2:03
11. "The Nurse"   2:19
12. "The Hallway"   3:12
13. "The Struggle"   3:47


Prior to the film's release, Bacon felt the film was a career low: "I broke down and fell to the sidewalk, screaming to my pregnant wife, 'I can't believe I'm doing a movie about underground worms!'".[15]

The film was hailed by critics for its diverse cast and humor. Tremors holds a "fresh" rating of 84% at Rotten Tomatoes based on 32 reviews with the consensus: "An affectionate throwback to 1950s creature features, Tremors reinvigorates its genre tropes with a finely balanced combination of horror and humor."[3]

[Tremors] is very well cast, with [Fred] Ward and [Kevin] Bacon proving affable and enjoyable comedy leads... The special effects are first-rate... It may not top anyone's 10-best list, but Tremors is nevertheless solid entertainment.

—TV Guide, [16]

Box office[edit]

While only a modest hit at the box office, it went on to become a huge hit on home video, TV, and the internet.[17]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the episode "Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm" in the second season of SpongeBob SquarePants, the worm in the episode is a parody or a spoof to the Graboid. In the end of the episode, the worm falls down a cliff, just like the ending in Tremors when Kevin Bacon jumps out of the way for the Graboid to fall off the cliff.[18]
  • In the episode "Four Little Words" in the third season of American Dad!, Tremors is mentioned as one of the films in which Kevin Bacon was an actor.[19][20]
  • On March 21, 2012, the NBC Nightly News story "Shaken and awakened in Wisconsin" jokingly blames the filming of a "Tremors remake" as the cause for unidentified loud booming noises.[21]
  • "Bad Apple!", a 2013 episode of the superhero comedy series The Aquabats! Super Show!, features a scene of a giant underground worm attacking a desert farm which series co-creator Christian Jacobs noted was an homage to Tremors, with some shots mirroring those in the original film.[22]


  1. ^ "TREMORS (15)". United International Pictures. British Board of Film Classification. April 24, 1990. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ Vincent Canby (1990-01-19). "Underground Creatures and Dread Events". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b Tremors at Rotten Tomatoes
  4. ^ "Tremors: The Series DVD Art Rumbles Your Home Video Collection". Dread Central. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  5. ^ The Ultimate Tremors FAQ, General Questions about Tremors: Why do the creatures on the posters/DVD covers look absolutely nothing like the actual creatures in the film? Written by S.S. Wilson (writer/director of Tremors)
  6. ^ Maddock, Brent; Wilson, SS (June 5, 2000). Exclusive Tremors Interview Part 3. Interview with MJ Simpson. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Tremors Full Scale Graboid On Set". 
  8. ^ The Ultimate Tremors FAQ, Questions about Tremors: What is that dang elephant gun Burt uses to kill the Graboid in his basement? Written by S.S. Wilson (writer/director of Tremors)
  9. ^ The Ultimate Tremors FAQ, Questions about Tremors: What happened to the 8 gauge elephant gun (actually a Darne shotgun) Burt used to kill the Graboid in his basement? Written by S.S. Wilson (writer/director of Tremors)
  10. ^ "Tremors Blu-ray Announced". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Tremors: Attack Pack Blu-ray". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Tremors Sequels Heading to Blu-ray". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Ernest Troost – Tremors / Bloodrush (Original Motion Picture Score)". Discogs. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  14. ^ "TREMORS soundtrack". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Kevin Bacon interview for The Following". The Telegraph. 22 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "Tremors: Review". TV Guide. Retrieved December 12, 2013. 
  17. ^ "VIDEO RENTALS : 'Internal Affairs' Has Appeal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  18. ^ ""SpongeBob SquarePants" Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm/Squid on Strike (TV Episode 2001)". IMDb. 
  19. ^ "American Dad!: Four Little Words". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  20. ^ ""American Dad!" Four Little Words (TV Episode 2007)". IMDb. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Shaken and awakened in Wisconsin". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  22. ^ Liu, Ed (May 28, 2013). "ToonZone Interviews Christian Jacobs on "The Aquabats! Super Show!"". ToonZone. 

External links[edit]