Tremors (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byRon Underwood
Produced byGale Anne Hurd
Brent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
Screenplay byBrent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
Story byBrent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
Ron Underwood
Music byErnest Troost
Robert Folk
CinematographyAlexander Gruszynski
Edited byO. Nicholas Brown
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • January 19, 1990 (1990-01-19)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$11 million
Box office$16,667,084

Tremors is a 1990 American monster film directed by Ron Underwood, produced by Gale Anne Hurd, Brent Maddock, and S. S. Wilson, and written by Maddock, Wilson, and Underwood. Tremors was released by Universal Pictures and stars Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, and Reba McEntire.

The film is the first installment of the Tremors franchise,[2] and was followed by four direct-to-video sequels: Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996), Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001), Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015) and Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell (2018) and a direct-to-video prequel, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004). A television series titled Tremors: The Series, aired from March through August 2003.[3] A sixth film, Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, was released in May 2018.[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. They eventually tire of their jobs and leave for Bixby, the nearest town. As they leave, they discover the dead body of another resident, Edgar Deems, perched atop an electrical tower, still grasping the tower's crossbeams and his .30-30 Winchester rifle. Jim Wallace, the town doctor, determines that Edgar died of dehydration, apparently afraid for some reason to climb down.

Later on, an unknown force kills shepherd "Old Fred" and his flock of sheep. After discovering his severed head buried in the sand, Val and Earl become convinced that a killer is on the loose; they head back to town to warn the other residents. Two construction workers ignore Val and Earl's warning and are killed by the same force, causing a rock slide.

Val and Earl try to get help, but find the phone lines are dead, and the only road out of town is completely blocked by the rock slide. Out of sight, a snake-like creature wraps itself around their truck's rear axle; the creature is torn apart when Val stomps on the accelerator and drives away, and they find it when they return to town.

Val and Earl return to Perfection and borrow horses. They come upon Wallace and his wife's buried station wagon near their trailer, but the couple is missing (they were killed the previous night). As they press on, something suddenly erupts out of the ground, revealing the snake-like creature to be one of multiple-tentacled "tongues" joined to an enormous burrowing worm-like creature (later named a "graboid" by general store owner Walter Chang). Thrown from their horses, the two men run for their lives. The chase ends when the eyeless creature violently rams itself into the concrete wall of an aqueduct and dies from the impact. Rhonda LeBeck, a graduate student conducting seismology tests in the area, stumbles onto the scene; she deduces from previous soundings that three other graboids are in the area. Rhonda, Val, and Earl become trapped overnight atop a cluster of boulders near one of the creatures. Rhonda has a brainstorm and grabs one of several left-behind fence poles; the three of them pole vault from each residual boulder to her truck, finally making their getaway.

After the people return to town, the graboids attack, eventually killing Walter and forcing the other citizens to the town's rooftops. Meanwhile, nearby survivalist couple Burt and Heather Gummer manage to kill another one of the creatures after unknowingly luring it from town to their basement armory. In town, the two remaining graboids attack the building foundations, knocking over the trailer belonging to Nestor and dragging him under. Realizing they cannot stay any longer, Val commandeers a bulldozer and chains a partial truck trailer to the rear, while everyone else distracts the creatures; the survivors use it to try to escape to a nearby mountain range. On the way there, both graboids create an underground sinkhole trap that disables the bulldozer, forcing the survivors to flee to the safety of large boulders.

Earl has an idea to lure in the creatures, then to trick them into swallowing Burt's homemade pipe bombs. While this works on one graboid, the other spits it back towards the survivors, forcing Val, Earl, and Rhonda to vacate the rock quickly to avoid the explosion. With one last pipe bomb, Val lures the creature to chase him to the edge of a cliff and then explodes the bomb behind it, frightening the graboid into tunneling through the cliff face, where it plummets to its death. The group returns to town, where they call in the authorities to begin an investigation, and Earl pushes Val into approaching Rhonda romantically.



Film poster and VHS cover artwork for Tremors was designed by Universal Studios. The artwork 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 was revealed to the characters in the film. Universal agreed initially, but then decided to use a close-up of a graboid tentacle, with sharp teeth, on the poster.[5]

Working titles for the film were Beneath Perfection, Dead Silence, and Land Sharks, before the filmmakers decided upon Tremors.[citation needed]


Principal photography took place in Lone Pine, California, in 1989. The mountains in the distance are the Sierra Nevada.[6] After filming was complete, the original town set was completely torn down.[citation needed]


The creature for Tremors was designed by Amalgamated Dynamics. The full-scale graboid seen after being dug up by Val was cast in lightweight foam. It was placed in a trench, then buried, and dug up again to achieve the desired "used" effect.[7]

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


Tremors debuted in theaters on January 19, 1990, on Laser Disc on April 16, 1996, and on DVD on April 28, 1998.[citation needed] The film was released on Blu-Ray on November 9, 2010[10] and again on September 17, 2013, as part of the Tremors: Attack Pack for region 1 (U.S. and Canada).[11] In the United Kingdom, the Attack Pack was not released on Blu-ray; instead, the second, third, and fourth films were released on Blu-ray separately on August 5, 2013.[12]


Tremors / Bloodrush
Film score by Ernest Troost
GenreElectronic, Stage & Screen
LabelIntrada – ETCD 1000

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

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
10."The Hospital"2:03
11."The Nurse"2:19
12."The Hallway"3:12
13."The Struggle"3:47

Critical response[edit]

Tremors was well received and was hailed by critics for its diverse cast and humor. The film holds a "fresh" rating of 85% at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 33 reviews and an average score of 7 out of 10, with the consensus: "An affectionate throwback to 1950s creature features, Tremors reinvigorates its genre tropes with a finely balanced combination of horror and humor.[15]

[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, Tremors went on to become a huge hit on home video, television, and the Internet.[17] Because of this, it has gained a cult following over the years.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

  • On March 21, 2012, the NBC Nightly News story "Shaken and awakened in Wisconsin" jokingly blamed the filming of a "Tremors remake" as the cause for unidentified loud booming noises.[19]
  • "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.[20]
  • "Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm", an episode of the second season of the animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants, features a large worm known as the "Alaskan bull worm"; the worm is defeated when it tumbles off a cliff, similar to the death of the final graboid in Tremors.[21][22]


  1. ^ "TREMORS (15)". United International Pictures. British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  2. ^ Vincent Canby (1990-01-19). "Underground Creatures and Dread Events". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Tremors: The Series DVD Art Rumbles Your Home Video Collection". Dread Central. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  4. ^ "The 6th Tremors movie has a title, release date".
  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). Interviewed by 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. ^ "Tremors". January 19, 1990. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  16. ^ "Tremors: Review". TV Guide. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  17. ^ "VIDEO RENTALS : 'Internal Affairs' Has Appeal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
  18. ^ "Why Monster Movie 'Tremors' Is Still A Cult Classic". Sabotage Times. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Shaken and awakened in Wisconsin". Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  20. ^ Liu, Ed (May 28, 2013). "ToonZone Interviews Christian Jacobs on "The Aquabats! Super Show!"". ToonZone.
  21. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants - Season 2, Episode 20: Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm / Squid on Strike". Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  22. ^ Rhode, Jason (13 May 2015). "25 Years of digging on Tremors". Cryptic Rock. Retrieved 2 May 2016.

External links[edit]