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 from Universal Pictures, 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. This is the first installment of the Tremors franchise,[2] which was followed by four direct-to-video sequels: Tremors 2: Aftershocks; Tremors 3: Back to Perfection; a series prequel, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins; and finally Tremors 5: Bloodlines.

Thirteen episodes of Tremors: The Series, a television program based on the film series, aired from March through August 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. As they leave, they discover another resident, Edgar, dead on top of an electrical tower, though still holding on to the tower's cross beams, along with 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 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; they 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 completely blocked by the rock slide that downed the phone lines. On the way back into town, their truck gets stuck. A snake-like creature with sharp teeth has grabbed onto and wrapped itself around the truck's rear axle; it is torn apart when Val stomps on the gas pedal and drives away.

Val and Earl return to town and borrow horses. They come upon Wallace and his wife's buried car near the couple's trailer; the couple are nowhere to be seen. As they press on, something suddenly erupts out of the ground, revealing the earlier snake-like creature to be one of the multiple tentacled "tongues" employed by an enormous burrowing worm-like creature, later named a "Graboid". 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, dying from the impact. Rhonda LeBeck, a graduate student conducting seismology tests in the area, stumbles onto the scene; she deduces there are three other Graboids after finding three similar seismic disturbances happening at the same time. The three are then trapped overnight atop a cluster of boulders by one of the creatures; they eventually escape by pole-vaulting from rock-to-rock in order 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 town's rooftops. Survivalist couple Burt and Heather Gummer manage to kill one of the creatures with an elephant gun after unknowingly luring it with a vibrating shell casing cleaner to and then through their basement wall. In town the Graboids attack the foundations of other buildings, knocking over Nestor's trailer and eventually dragging him underground. Realizing they cannot stay any longer, Val commandeers a bulldozer and chains a dump truck trailer to the rear, while everyone else distracts the creatures; the survivors use it to leave Perfection by way of a "jeep trail" set in bedrock in order to escape to the mountains. They drive by the Gummer compound to pick up Burt and Heather, who are now on their roof. Burt bemoans the fact that most of his survivalist supplies are now buried underground. 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 run to the safety of a large boulder; they are able scare away the creatures using Burt's homemade pipe bomb explosives.

Earl later gets the idea to lure the creatures in and have them swallow Burt's lighted pipe bombs. While this works perfectly on one Graboid, the other spits the explosive back towards the survivors, forcing Val, Earl, and Rhonda off the rock to avoid the explosion. With one last pipe bomb, Val allows the remaining creature to chase him to the edge of a cliff and then exploding the bomb, scaring the now panicked Graboid into tunneling through the high cliff face, where it plummets to its death. The group is able to call in the authorities to begin an investigation of the creatures, with Rhonda staying on as a local expert to both advise and supervise. With her staying for awhile, Earl goads Val into finally approaching Rhonda romantically.



Film poster and DVD cover art for Tremors was designed by Universal Studios. This 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 initially, but then decided to use a close-up of a graboid tentacle, with sharp teeth, on the poster.[4]


Principal photography took place in Lone Pine, California in 1989. The mountains in the distance are the Sierras.[5] After filming was complete, the original town set was completely torn down.[citation needed]


The creature designs for Tremors were done by Amalgamated Dynamics. The full-scale graboid, that is seen after Val digs it up, was cast in lightweight foam. It was placed in a trench, then buried, and dug up again to achieve the desired "used" effect.[6]

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.[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 for 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 released on Blu-ray 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]

However, Tremors was well received and hailed by critics for its diverse cast and humor. The film holds a "fresh" rating of 84% at the review aggregator website 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, Tremors went on to become a huge hit on home video, television, 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 spoof of the Graboid. In the end of the episode the worm falls down a cliff, just like in Tremors when the Graboid falls in the same way.[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]