Monday, October 20, 2014

'90s Horror Poll: Day 19 - Tremors

#6 (Tie) - 8 Votes

Since I started this project, two different readers have suggested none too subtly that I may be overthinking things in writing about the appeal of these movies. "They're horror movies, they don't have to be smart/have meaning/be well made," and so forth. I don't mention in order to open up a debate, because I think I'm only barely doing anything like "analysis" anyway, and I've only given anything like a negative write-up to one movie so far, and it's arguably the most artsy-fartsy one on this entire list. Frankly, after the second person informed me that movies aren't for thinking, I exclaimed to myself, "I did it! I'm a real film writer now!"

I mention it, though, because I find that the most challenging movies for me to write about are often the ones that are pleasurable in obvious, uncomplicated and subtext-free ways. Tremors is one of those movies, a pleasant B-movie throwback with a monster that isn't a metaphor for anything. The Graboids aren't the product of our destructive effect on the environment, and their existence wasn't kept a secret by greedy real estate developers or a corrupt local government. The setting, a tiny desert town, doesn't function as a microcosm of anything; it's simply an economical way to bring together a small, diverse cast of characters in an isolated location. It's not an homage, parody of or commentary on giant monster movies; it's just an unassuming, well made and good-natured example of the subgenre that deserves its reputation as something of a classic.

More to the point, I remembered that I just wrote about Tremors last year at my friends' request. And even there, I admit that I'm straining to find things to say. So while I may be guilty of overthinking or overanalyzing or overwhatevering, at least I can admit it when I don't have much to say (and, since nobody is paying me to write this, I don't have to). Since, for reasons that would be tedious to go into here, I've had about 12 hours of sleep in three days, I'm going to make this my one "smartass kid passes in an essay about why he didn't write the assigned essay" post for the month. I'll just add one note to that older post - in mentioning that Fred Ward had a great year in 1990, I left out Miami Blues, a very good, underrated movie that I'll surely discuss in more detail with my next poll, "Tournament of Baldwins."

U.S. Release Date: January 19, 1990 (Also released that day: Everybody Wins, Sweetie)

What critics said at the time:

''Tremors' wants to be funny, but it spends too much time winking at the audience. More than anything else, it looks like the sort of movie that might have been put together so that tourists visiting Universal Studios could see a movie being made." - Vincent Canby, New York Times

"As concocted by S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock (who also did the original 'Short Circuit'), 'Tremors' evokes the populist spirit of '50s B-movies, much more so than such high-powered '80s remakes as 'The Fly,' 'The Thing' or 'The Blob.' Director Ron Underwood keeps things moving briskly, celebrating not the single-mindedness of the 'graboids' but the resourcefulness and resilience of the townspeople." - Richard Harrington, Washington Post

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