The one sci-fi movie you need to watch before it leaves Netflix next week
It's finally time to dig into the Tremors universe.
It's the end of the month and that means a whole bunch of great movies are leaving Netflix soon — and some terrible ones too. There are too many films on the chopping block this week to see them all, but if there's one movie you have to watch on Netflix this week its the 1990 sci-fi monster thriller, Tremors.
More than a Kevin Bacon vehicle, this cult classic is an important piece of cinematic history with some incredible practical effects. Here's why you need to watch Tremors on Netflix right now — and what you need to know about its also-departing sequels.
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Directed by Ron Underwood (City Slickers, Heart and Souls), Tremors stars Bacon as a handyman working in an isolated small town in the Nevada desert. Populated by a small and hardy group of locals that includes country music legend Reba McEntire — and cut off from the rest of the world by miles and miles of sand — Perfection, Nevada it's the perfect setting for some monstrous action.
Tremors is a master class in a familiar horror movie trope: hide the monster until you absolutely have to show it. The first section of the movie only implies the existence of a terrible creature. We see huge swaths of earth uprooted by something burrowing underneath and a man forced to hide up an electrical tower until he dies of dehydration, too scared to return to the ground.
Then, we see a large, dead snake-like creature the size of a human arm after its run over by a car. That's scary enough, but it's downright horrifying when it turns out that snake was just one of the monster's many tongues. The beast itself (called a Graboid in the Tremors universe) is as big as a trailer with a mouthful of squirming, tooth-covered snakes — and yes, it's clearly borrowing heavily from Dune.
The Tremors monster was a practical effect created by Amalgamated Dynamics, which also worked on Starship Troopers, The Thing, and the Alien franchise. It's awesome.
Tremors is also basically one big game of "the floor is lava." Once it becomes clear that the monster can't leave the ground, Bacon and the rest of the cast spend as much time as possible standing on top of buildings and hopping from one boulder to another.
According to Wikipedia, the idea actually came when the movie's writers, S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, were working on educational videos for the U.S. Navy. After climbing a boulder to shoot some footage, the two wondered, "What if there was something that wouldn't let us off of this rock?" The answer: Tremors.
The movie was a financial success, but just barely, grossing $16 million on an $11 million budget. Despite not making a big splash at the box office, it was a critical hit. Reviews were mostly positive (Rotten Tomatoes gives it an average review score of 88%, and Roger Ebert awarded it 3.5 out of 4 stars, writing, "Tremors is one of the few monsters movies that truly understands how to reel us in and keep us invested.")
Netflix also boasts almost the entire sequel lineup — Tremors 2: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, and Tremors 5: Bloodline — and they might be worth your time. Kevin Bacon left after the original, but the franchise managed to continue on, earning decent reviews by sticking to the throwback monster movie tone of the original while committing to the rules of the Tremors universe and expanding it with new types of creatures.
You can watch Tremors 1-5 on Netflix, but that still doesn't include the 2018 sequel A Cold Day in Hell. And with another Tremors movie, titled Island Fury, coming in October 2020 (straight to digital, of course) there's never been a better time to familiarize yourself with the Tremors universe.