Sunday, January 30, 2011

Graboid Week: Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004)

The legend begins and the series ends! Thank you! Because this frankly unnecessary fourth chapter in the Tremors Book of Awesomeness simply does not live up to the rest of the films, especially the first one.

The end of the Graboids: It's 1889 in the town of Rejection, Nevada, and the town's only lifeblood is the nearby silver mine. When several workers are killed by an unseen beast and the mine closes, the owner, Hiram Gummer (Michael Gross), comes from Philadelphia to check things out. New graboids have hatched and the people of Rejection vow to fight them off rather than leave their town.

Oh, Tremors 4, where did you go wrong? Well for one thing, you're BORING. Bo-ring. There are way too many lulls in action throughout the entire movie and not enough freaking graboid action! I had to watch this movie again in about three sittings because it couldn't hold my interest enough for the duration. There's a little bit of action, then a 20 minute lull, then a bit more action, then a lull... blah blah blah.

Michael Gross takes an interesting turn with his new character of the snooty mine owner who is completely out of place in the Wild West. His dialogue is still rather funny, but nothing laugh-out-loud. All the other main characters are nothing special, although it's nice to see that one guy who played Randolph in Free Willy. Remember him? He plays Tecopa, the Native American who tells his ancestors' legends of beasts in the dirt. How convenient.

The only other character of note is Black Hand Kelly, the outlaw gunfighter Hiram brings in to help fight the graboids. He has a few nice moments, especially when he's trying to teach Hiram how to shoot a gun, but he's soon eatted up by a big ole graboid...  and you wonder why he was even there in the first place. His death is one of the few in the entire movie, which is kind of a disappointment. You'd think with all the people just walking around like they do that some unlucky soul would fall prey to the worms, but - and sorry to spoil the ending - all the main characters survive. They could have at least had one dramatic death to shake things up a bit, like Walter in the first movie, but not so much.

The acting is actually not terrible and thankfully never steeps into the cheesiness it comes so close to. This is a nice testament to both the writers and the actors and how they manage to keep the seriousness of the movies alive, despite their fantastical and potentially cheesy nature. The first movie wasn't really that much of a success financially and only gained its cult status through VHS sales and later on, through its numerous runs on television. It is much beloved by fans and the fact that it even had any sequels, much less three, shows that the filmmakers made them to satisfy the fans and didn't want to do wrong by them.

The mechanical graboids are back, people! But first we get to see them as cute little baby graboids that attack Hiram and the miners' camp near the mine. They're about two feet long and can come flying out of the dirt to bite people's heads off or in a coordinated effort pull people under the ground. The big daddy graboids they grow up to be look pretty awesome, especially when we get to see two of them come out of the ground at the same time. No CGI for these dudes, and you know that's how I like it. They look just as good as they did in the first film, orange mucus-y blood and all.

At the end, all three graboids are disposed of rather quickly and without much fanfare. The residents agree not to ever tell anyone about the "dirt dragons," which explains how since this is a prequel that there aren't any records of them like it was established in the first movie. The town's name is changed to Perfection, and everyone lives happily ever after. HO HUM.

Like I said, not as cool as the other movies. It's nice to see the graboids as babies and all, and Michael Gross provides a nice thread throughout the films, but this one was too slow and the comedy that gave the first movie its real charm just wasn't there. See it once just to see it, maybe, but don't expect much.

I could do a short review of the Tremors television series, but I am not THAT much of a dork, thank you very much. Plus, I've never seen any of the episodes and I don't want to go looking for them. Anybody seen them? Are they any good?


  1. review on the tv show? i still can't believe they made 4 of these

  2. I watched as many episodes of Tremors: The Series as I could when it originally aired on the Syfy Channel (back when it was still the Sci-Fi Channel, I think). I loved every silly second of it. I even went so far as to buy the series when it was only available as an overpriced bootleg, then bought it again when it was released commercially. Because I am that big of a dork.

    The show wasn't classic, but it was tongue in cheek fun that was not the least bit embarrassed to just play (or even go outright insane) with its admittedly ludicrous monster of the week format.

  3. I'd say that the TV series was quite good for what it was. It doesn't feel like the first two films at all and the story has a new twist that is completely unrelated to the graboids (if you can believe it). I enjoyed it when it was on but it was sadly cancelled after 13 episodes despite good ratings because of some crap between the Syfy channel and the production company. The DVD is only $9.00 on and for 13 episodes, I'd call that a deal.

    Also, I can't believe you thought this film was worse than the third one! I hate prequels on principal because they typically strangle the integrity of the original installments and cover little to no new ground, but this one did it for me. It was funnier than the previous film and the production values were much, MUCH higher. The graboids (as you mentioned) are mostly realized through practical effects this time around and are great eye candy. Also, as a personal nitpick, I was happy that the filmmakers went back to the original graboid design for this film. The cheap, rubbery looking tongues in the third film just didn't do it for me. The sound design was also more impressive this time out, lacking that muffled sound that was present in "Back to Perfection."