It’s Friday and you know what that means! Time for another installment of Film Friday! Wherein, Tim or Zack will examine some of their favorite older movies for automotive content.
All is not well, er, perfect in Perfection, Nevada. You see odd couple Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) have had it with life in the scorched deserts of rural Nevada. Just as they’re about to put the dusty little town in their rear-view they discover the local drunk, dead in up in one of those high-tower power line contraptions (I’m sure there’s a technical term, but its early and the coffee hasn’t kicked it). Junior Detectives Val and Earl quickly surmise that the poor old derelict was murdered! Being good, civic-minded men they race back to town to let the residents of Perfection know there’s a murderer on the loose. While out warning another resident our heroes have their first encounter with the killer, only it’s not what they’re expecting at all. Seems the killer is not a man at all, it’s some sort of prehistoric beast, a Graboid, a creature that lives and hunts underground.
I rented this repeatedly when I was a kid, maybe it was because I wanted to be Kevin Bacon? Maybe it was because Finn Carter and Reba McEntire awakened an interest in me for the opposite sex? No, it was mostly because I thought Earl’s Jeep Gladiator was the coolest truck in a movie full of cool trucks.
When you’ve got a cast that basically consists of Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Reba McEntire, you’re gonna need some support from unlikely places. In Tremors the cars and trucks are characters in their own right. For instance, Earl’s truck is tough, loyal, and a little bit temperamental.
Of course, in rural Nevada you’re gonna run into well-armed
rednecks survivalists, in this instance, Heather Gummer (McEntire) and Burt Gummer (Micheal Gross). Within their compound is every imaginable firearm, which is great for when the Ruskies or the Graboids invade. For their post-apocalyptic transport needs, Heather and Gummer rely on a Government Motors GMC Jimmy. The proto-SUV, before they got all soft and comfortable, ya know.
The Graboids turn out to be very cunning hunters, knowing enough to destroy tires and axles of vehicles so the hapless residents of Perfection can’t take flight in their cars. Yeah, try not to think to much about that. It also turns out that they’re strong enough to pull an entire car under the ground to get at the tasty human inside.
By the third act, all the reliable transportation in Perfection has been rendered scrap metal. Our survivors have to think creatively in order to extricate themselves from their prehistoric pickle. Final salvation comes not from any of these heroic looking trucks and trucklets. No the only thing to big of to heavy for the Graboids to sabotage is an old Caterpillar 977 bulldozer pulling an old open-topped scrap trailer.
I don’t think anyone would pretend that Tremors is high art, but it’s stupid, enjoyable, escapist fun. It was also something of a success because it spawned 2 direct-to-video sequels and a short lived TV series. For the gearhead there’s lot of interesting stuff in the film, both in the fore and background.