Thursday, October 9, 2014

Film #9: 'Tremors 4: The Legend Begins'

'Tremors 4: The Legend Begins' sees Michael Gross returns to the only role outside of "Family Ties" that I know he's ever been cast in.
OK, not the exact same role, but the same series of films, playing the ancestor of the character he played in the other films.
Yes, 'Tremors 4' is a prequel to my beloved 'Tremors'.

First thing's first though.
'Tremors 4: The Legend Begins' is the fourth Tremors movie a direct-to-tv affair broadcast on The Sci-Fi Channel, and was released near-enough the same time as 'Tremors: The Series' aired on that same channel. So there you go, there are 4 'Tremors' movies and a tv series that you didn't know existed, and won't ever need to know about again.

Highlights of this film include: The ever-watchable Michael Gross.
Being a prequel and using that fact absolve itself of some of the mistakes of the other three 'Tremors' movies. Well, of the previous two movies. OK, the second one wasn't actually the worst, the third one though... The third one was beyond terrible, and I can't attest to the quality of the tv series, but the "evolution" of the Graboids (the name of the monsters in Tremors) was a pain.
In 'Tremors 2: Aftershocks', they evolved to bipedal heat-sensing dinosaur-shaped things with graboid heads called "Shriekers"
In 'Tremors 3: Back to Perfection' (it could go without saying, but 3 is as far from any semblance of 'perfection' or 'acceptability' as a film can be) they evolve to flying "ass blasters", scaly bird-like creatures which fly by creating fart explosions, projecting them forward allowing them to coast on the blast created.
[Also, there is a Tremors wiki. Let that sink in, as well as the fact that I have now read most of it - definitely the parts I was interested in anyway.]

So, yeah, after 3 ran the whole 'Tremors' thing into the ground - by being immensely sh*t, and at best just dulling up the whole world with its dull ways - in a sequel that no one asked for I'm sure even fewer people were asking for a fourth movie.

The bad: The script is clunky as sh*t, with some awful dialogue - especially the opening scenes thick exposition - and some terrible CGI. Terrible CGI.
The Good: Luckily, a lot of puppets are used! Or one puppet is used many times! Whatever!
As soon as the script is done with its initial exposition dump in the first few scenes there's some real fun to be had with this movie.
Also, eeeeeeeeeeeeeveeeeeeeeerything about Graboids is reduced back to how they appeared in the first film. Simple monsters accompany this welcome return to form for this creature movie!

At it's core this is a fun creature movie. And a western. So while on the surface it could be seen as vaguely similar to 'The Burrowers', it is radically different in execution.
'The Burrowers' is an atmospheric, tense, moody western with characters sitting at odds with everything around them, disagreeing on what's causing their problems and how to solve it.
'Tremors 4' is a silly, fun, western/ horror with characters forced to improbably get along to solve a shared problem. It's stupid. But not annoyingly so, and even though parts of it look very cheap it still manages to do a lot with its limited resources. ("... much like the characters themselves" is an end to that sentence I feel at pains to tell you I didn't want to right, but still thought up.)

Anyway, it centers on a mine in 'Rejection Valley', what will in the future be the location for the town of 'Perfection' of the other movies, which closes following the unexplained deaths of some miners.
The mine's owner Hiram Gummer (Michael Gross) arrives to investigate - while the Gummer from 'Tremors' is a gun-happy over-the-top nut his ancestor is an uptight, city-swaddled businessman, so any character development in the film is limited to getting this Gummer to that point too.
After camping out near the mine Gummer and his group are attacked by freshly hatched and very agile grabbers, and this scene sets the rest of this film.
"That's so stupid!" would be a direct quote from me describing the scene, but writing it wouldn't capture the stupid grin on my face as it happens, likewise with a discovery of a ruined stage-coach later in the film. This film embraces what made the original film so good, nods to it and adds on its own western take.
A generic lone gun for hire is brought in to help hunt the creatures, and teach Gummer about the joys of shooting sh*t, a stand-off in a building slowly being torn apart by Graboids is had, and a return to a town at risk of being buried by subterranean creatures, are all part of another film that surprised me to be very entertaining and a creature feature I'm glad to own.

This and 'The Burrowers' are horror/ westerns at a nice standard, watchable and well suited to their genre. 'The Burrowers' is easily the better film, but for the sake of fun 'Tremors' is a decent night's viewing.

On a rating of 'Tremors' films I'd say:
1. Tremors
2. Tremors 4
3. Tremors 2
4. [Any other potential sequel]
5. [Any potential reboot]
6. [Fan fiction]
7. [Erotic Fan Fiction]
8. [Cross-Genre Graboid/ Star Trek  Erotic Fan Fiction]
9. [Reading every entry on the Tremors wiki site]
10. Tremors 3.

'Tremors 4' is available on DVD. If you get the collection pack of all 4 films films, just throw the third one out or shape it into a throwing-star for sh*ts and giggles.

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