Tremors (film)

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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 produced by Gale Anne Hurd, Brent Maddock, and S. S. Wilson, directed by Ron Underwood, and written by Maddock, Wilson, and Underwood. Tremors stars Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, and Reba McEntire and was released by Universal Studios, the first installment of the Tremors franchise.[2]

Tremors was followed by four direct-to-video sequels, Tremors 2: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins and Tremors 5: Bloodlines. Thirteen episodes of Tremors: The Series, a television program based on the film series, aired March through July 2003.[3]


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, but as they leave, 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 after being trapped for a few days. Later on, an unknown force kills an elderly shepherd, "Old Fred," and his flock of sheep. Upon discovering his severed head buried in the sand, Val and Earl become convinced that a killer is on the loose and head back to town to warn the other residents. They try to get help, but upon discovering that the phone lines are dead, they find the only road out of town blocked by a rock slide that downed the phone lines. On the way back to town, they get their truck stuck on what they later find to be a snake-like creature that wrapped itself around its rear axle.

Val and Earl leave on horseback to get help, and they discover Wallace's buried car, with Wallace and his wife missing. As they press on, the attacker suddenly erupts out of the ground, revealing the snake-like creature to be one of multiple "tongues" employed by an enormous burrowing worm-creature that is later named a "graboid". Thrown from their horses, the two men run for their lives. The chase ends when the eyeless graboid violently rams itself into the concrete wall of an aqueduct and dies from the impact. However, Rhonda LeBeck, a graduate student conducting seismology tests in the area who stumbles onto the scene, deduces there are three other graboids after finding three similar seismic disturbances happening at the same time. The three are then trapped overnight at a cluster of boulders by another graboid, eventually escaping by pole-vaulting from rock to rock to reach Rhonda's truck.

After they return to town, the graboids attack, eventually killing general store owner Walter Chang and forcing the other citizens to the rooftops of buildings. Survivalist couple Burt and Heather Gummer manage to kill one of the graboids with an elephant gun after unknowingly luring it to their basement with a vibrating machine. In town, the graboids attack the foundations of the buildings, knocking over Nestor's trailer and dragging him down underground. Realizing they cannot stay any longer, Val commandeers a bulldozer and chains a dump trailer to the rear while everyone else distracts the graboids, and the survivors use it to leave Perfection to use a "jeep trail" set in bedrock to escape to a mountain range; they drive by the Gummer compound to pick up Burt and Heather who are on the roof, and Burt bemoans the fact that most of his survivalist measures are buried underground. However, on the way there, the graboids disable the bulldozer by digging a wide trench just below the surface of the ground, forcing the survivors to flee to the safety of a large boulder while scaring the graboids away with Burt's homemade explosives.

Earl later gets the idea to lure the graboids out and have them swallow more of Burt's explosives. While this works on one graboid, the other spits the explosive back towards the survivors, forcing Val, Earl, and Rhonda off the rock to avoid the explosion. Equipped with one last bomb, Val allows the graboid to chase him to the edge of a cliff and then scares it with the bomb, sending the panicked graboid tunneling in through the face of the cliff and falling to its death. The group returns to town, where they call in the authorities to begin an investigation of the graboids (with Rhonda staying as local expert to supervise), and Earl goads Val into approaching 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.[4]


Principal photography took place in Lone Pine, California. The mountains in the distance are the Sierras.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7][8]


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,[9] and again on September 17, 2013 as part of the Tremors: Attack Pack In region 1 (U.S. & Canada).[10] 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.[11]


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.[12] The album was released for promotional purposes as a limited edition CD.[12][13]

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 that 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!'".[14]

Tremors was well received and hailed by critics for its diverse cast and humor. The film holds a "fresh" rating of 84% at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 32 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, 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. 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 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)
  5. ^ Maddock, Brent; Wilson, SS (June 5, 2000). Exclusive Tremors Interview Part 3. Interview with MJ Simpson. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Tremors Full Scale Graboid On Set". 
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ "Tremors Blu-ray Announced". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Tremors: Attack Pack Blu-ray". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Tremors Sequels Heading to Blu-ray". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Ernest Troost – Tremors / Bloodrush (Original Motion Picture Score)". Discogs. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  13. ^ "TREMORS soundtrack". Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Kevin Bacon interview for The Following". The Telegraph. 22 January 2013. 
  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. ^ ""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]