Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996)

I've said it before: I really don't like creature features, although I will watch one or two if it's supposed to be really good. The Tremors movies are a definite exception. I think they're well made, if silly, and entertaining with just enough jokes to make the scares not so intense. And again I rely on my friend Tim Forston, for his perspective on this movie (He loves all the Tremors movies) but there will be a LOT of teasing on my part. It's what I do. Thankfully he has the sense of humor and has not bombed my house - yet. And he starts:

Tim: The worms have turned - and headed to a country that no doubt is much cheaper as far as taxes on the movie makers go. The sequel opens in Mexico...

Me: HA! Got you! I thought everything looked a little too... green to be Mexico so I checked and it was actually filmed in Valencia, CA (big raspberry).

Tim: Whatever. Anyway, the movie says we're in Mexico - we see an oil worker sitting atop a raised oil pipe, sliding along, fearing for his life. If you saw the first movie or even just read the review, you already have a pretty good idea of what he's running from...

Me: Don't you mean sliding from?

Tim: <sigh> Whatever. Anyway, you'd be proven correct pretty quickly when he looks back and sees a mound of dirt following along behind him.

Me: Yeah, you gotta watch out for that killer dirt.

Tim: Are you going to be serious?

Me: Am I ever?

Tim: He gets to the end of the convenient pipe and sees the equally convenient row of barrels to hop across leading him to the convenient again van with the door standing open to take him to safety.

Me: Good thing you know how to spell convenient, huh?

Tim: Shush. It should be pretty obvious that this is not going to end well. After hopping about three barrels you get a nice full shot of a Graboid out of the ground eating said oil worker. We go straight to the good stuff in this sequel, no waiting half the movie to get a good view of the monster. Now the premise for this movie is pretty simple. An oil field (Petromaya) in Sonora Mexico has been infested with Graboids, 28 of them as a matter of fact.

Me: How the hell did you count them? They're under ground - you got a sonar system on you?

Tim: They have killed several workers and forced the company to shut down production. So they come up with a plan: Find the two heroes from the first Graboid incursion and try to get them to take care of their problem. For a fee of course. They offer $50,000 per exterminated Graboid. And they are told the Mexican Army will give them any supplies they ask for. Why the Mexican Army doesn't want the job we may never know.

Me: Probably because the movie's in California.

Tim: Val (Kevin Bacon) turns them down, as we are told he is happily married now (he married Rhonda the graduate student) so why would he want to die?

Me: Great confidence there.

Tim: So they go to Earl (Fred Ward).

Me: In the time that has passed since the first movie, both Earl and Val appeared in a lot of magazines and a Graboid video game was even made, although neither saw any profit from it so they took the money they made and split - Val with the new wife, and Earl running an Ostrich ranch for whatever reason - comedic value?

Tim: Earl's dead set against it, but is convinced by a new character, Grady Hoover (Christopher Gartin) that this is his big second chance at fame and fortune. Since his Ostrich farm isn't doing that well, he agrees. They travel to Mexico...

Me: Valencia.

Tim: All right already! They travel to pseudo Mexico and we find out ole' Earl isn't as dumb as an Ostrich farm might suggest. With a combo of RC cars and dynamite what could go wrong?

Me: Well for one thing...

Tim: I wasn't asking you. They meet Kate (Helen Shaver), a biologist, and are successful in killing several Graboids, having it down to a science - even having the whole place hooked up with seismometers so they know where all the Graboids are every second. How could this possibly go wrong?

Me: Well for one thing...

Tim: Suddenly they get surrounded by a few Graboids at once and instead of trying to kill them one at a time since they are parked and safe on a rock, they say 'screw it' and decide to call in backup. Who you might ask?

Me: I didn't.

Tim: Stop it. They call everyone's favorite survivalist...

Me: Realist.

Tim: What. Ever. They call in Burt Gummer (Michael Gross). He is now divorced (his wife couldn't deal with him since the Cold War ended) and spends his time eating TV dinners and watching old war movies. He could really use an adventure and this one comes just in time. When he arrives, he reveals he has a Mexican Army deuce and a half truck laden down with all kinds of Graboid killing toys and over 2 1/2 tons of high explosives. He also brings 150 lbs. of MRE's (meals ready to eat)...

Me: Also explosive. Ooh, I get to tell a story now... I live in Oregon and we're famous for... very little. But when Earl and Grady hide beneath their umbrellas to keep from being covered in Graboid guts, I remember (way back in my itty bitty childhood) when a whale washed ashore in Florence in 1970, where some of my hubby's family lived. Now they thought of burying the poor thing but that was not going to happen. So they thought hey, what better way to make smaller chunks to bury than blow it up first? 

Let's use, oh, a half a ton of dynamite should do it. What followed was one of the funniest videos you'll see, um, today. It. Is. Hilarious. A simple local news broadcast of this explosion quickly turned into a mad scramble for cover as whale blubber covered not only the whole beach but part of the town - we're talking broken windows, cars, whatever it happened to hit. 

Tim: Well that was... totally not relevant to our movie. Anyway, Burt is ready for war. What could go wrong?

Me: Well for one thing...

Tim: I'm not talking to you.

Me: Then stop asking that.

Tim: He gets about a day of standard Graboid killing in before, as the preview states, the worms turn.

Me: So did Walt Disney in 1937 - great cartoon too...

Tim: These huge, blind, subterranean killing machines suddenly turn into something much, much worse. They are now bipedal, heat seeking killing machines that can reproduce exponentially just by eating enough food.

Me: Wasn't that the raptors in Jurassic Park?

Tim: Not even close.

Me: After killing a particularly large Graboid they discover that it has been hollowed out by... something. Apparently that's where the first bipeds had come from and they just multiplied from there. They also find out from the biologist that these creatures are Precambrian. If I hadn't traveled to Montana with the hubby for our anniversary last year I wouldn't have a clue what that meant. Precambrian, according to the theory, spans from the formation of the Earth to about the appearance of the first hard-shelled animals. 

We went to East Glacier Park, which has the Triple Divide Peak - the point where two of the divides in North America converge. What is pretty cool about this is that the peaks ABOVE the divide are Precambrian, meaning that the TOP of the divide is actually much older than the land beneath it. Pretty cool, huh? Okay back to the worms, um I mean raptors, um, I mean...

Tim: They communicate by screaming at each other, hence they are given the name 'Shriekers'. Of course our heroes quickly run out of ammo and have to improvise to kill them all. And to find out how you must watch the movie.

Me: Um, no, we watch 'em so they don't have to, remember?

Tim: Trust me, you will love the usual Tremors overkill. With an awesome closing line from Burt. "Some people say I am over-prepared, paranoid, maybe even a little crazy. But they never met any Precambrian lifeforms did they?" I think this sequel was really good and right up there with the first one. You do miss finding out what happened to Perfection Valley (the location of the first movie) and its residents, but it's okay - we get to find out in Tremors III.

Me: Oh goody.

Tim: All in all I give it two thumbs up - no matter what Shoy says.

Me: Hey wait a minute...

Tim: Plus it is also my daughter's favorite so it has to be good.

Me: It was good - especially since sequels seem to diminish in a lot of movie franchises and this doesn't. What Tim is not telling you is that they figure out that since the 'Shriekers' can only see heat signatures, they trick 'em by hiding behind CO2 in order to set them up with explosives (a la Burt) and the results... are quite impressive. All 'Shriekers' are destroyed... that is, until Tremors III. Which I'm sure we will be reviewing...

Oh and in case you think I'm a little hard on Tim, he's so fun to tease and so easy going about it that I just can't resist. That doesn't mean that Tremors isn't a good movie worth viewing, it means I have almost as much fun giving Tim a hard time about it as I do watching the movie. Tune in 'cause part three is soon to come and yes, I will be there for some good natured ribbing - it's what I do.