Thursday, January 27, 2011

Graboid Week: Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001)

Two down, two to go. As the title says, Tremors 3, the third installment of this monsterifically comedic series brings us back to the little desert town known as Perfection (always loved the  name, BTW) where the residents must once again fight off an invasion of the ancient graboid monsters.

Fans of the series will be ecstatic to see a lot of memorable faces from the first Tremors film - played by all the same actors - Burt (of course), Miguel, Nancy and Mindy, and Melvin, as well as a new proprietor of the grocery store, Jodi, who I'm thinking may be Walter Chang's granddaughter or something. I love that all these actors came back 11 years later for a straight-to-video sequel of a little monster movie. Shows they knew how popular and loved the series was and that they were willing to keep it that way.

It feels like this movie should be the concluding chapter of a trilogy with all the references to both the first and second movie. Perfection has become the Home of the Graboid with new tourists attractions and souvenirs at Chang's Market. The characters use a lot of the same techniques to fight the graboids and a cute little reference is made about the low-tech effects of a graboid heading toward people - dust blowing up and wooden fence posts being knocked down one by one. This happens during a tourist trap theme ride through Perfection Valley run by the very annoying Jack Sawyer.

The writers actually seemed to care enough about the "integrity" of the series to logically move this next movie forward in terms of the lore of the graboids and add in lots of fun new stuff about the new mutation the graboids take on. So their life cycle goes like this apparently: they go from graboid, to shrieker, to ass blaster, back to graboid. They lay dormant in their eggs for at least 300 years (???) before they grow up and wreak havoc.

Now these new mutants, the ass blasters (cleverly named by Jodi), have some interesting stuff going on. They can fly, they have flammable acids in their bodies, if they eat enough they go into a food coma, and they shoot off like rockets when flames come out of their butt. Gives 'em quite an edge but also makes them vulnerable to flaming arrows shot out of a quickly crafted potato gun. Good to know.

The thing I keep saying I love about the original movie was the use of a real mechanical graboid to interact with the actors, but for this movie the filmmakers seem to have forgotten how cool that was because nearly all the effects are CGI. Of course with flying ass blasters and stuff it would be almost impossible to do mechanical effects but most of the actual graboids are CG as well. It's neat to see the main graboid - a sterile albino dubbed "El Blanco" by Miguel - sort of undulating as he's eating someone or something but it just doesn't feel the same. It's too obvious and doesn't bring the same kind of realness that the other films had.

But this sequel isn't too bad. It moves faster than the second film and tries as hard as it can to be funny and ironic in some instances - and for the most part succeeds. I like the new character of Jodi, she's just as lovable and funny as Walter Chang and measures up well against Burt, who is funny simply because of who he is. And he gets a very cool little scene when he gets eatted up by a graboid while hiding in a barrel, and must be cut out of its stomach by Jack - with a chain saw. Awwwwwesome.

The sequence in the junk yard where Burt, Jack and Jodi take out the ass blasters with the aforementioned potato gun is well done. It also ends nicely when they force El Blanco into cannibalism by making him eat the last ass blaster. Gotta do what you gotta do.

At the end, El Blanco becomes Perfection's pet, kept around by the residents to prevent Melvin and his real estate company from building condos or whatever and "eminent domaning" them off of their property. I don't see this working out too well in the long run, but I wish them the best of luck. All in all, I'd say the series is still fairly strong with this installment. It's a quick, fun, and interesting monster movie that's loyal to the series - taking it as seriously as possible and bringing something new to the lore of the graboid. I don't hate it, I really don't. I'd still rather watch the first one, though, that goes without saying. You just can't beat that awesomeness.  

Also, R.I.P. Miguel! Not cool, filmmakers, not cool at all. Miguel was awesome. And when I can go see the Siegfried and Roy show with the live ass blaster?! Anybody got word on that? Free tickets or something?

1 comment:

  1. Dug the first one and saw the second one, but I never got to the third movie.