Tremors

Graboid origins revealed in archive videos

Graboid origins revealed in archive videos

Tom Woodruff, Jr and Alec Gillis are two names that may still be unfamiliar to some Tremors fans, but hopefully after the release of Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors everyone will be aware of their work as creators of some of the most memorable creatures in film history, the Graboids.

Woodruff and Gillis founded special effects company Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc (ADI) in the late 1980s, creating the Graboid design for Tremors alongside co-creators SS Wilson and Brent Maddock, before going on to work on films such as Jumanji, Alien 3 and Starship Troopers.

Now the ADI team have raided their archives to bring fans a look at the creation of the Graboids back in 1989. From creating the Graboid tongues through to building the bodies, this is a fascinating series of videos that all Tremors fans need to watch during this 25th anniversary year.

I spoke to Woodruff and Gillis about their work on the Tremors franchise for Seeking Perfection and the guys will also be present at this month’s Tremors reunion screening in Hollywood.

Part 1

Part 2

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25th anniversary Tremors reunion screening

25th anniversary Tremors reunion screening

It’s shaping up to be a big year for Tremors fans with the announcement that a special 25th anniversary reunion screening of the first film will take place in Los Angeles on Thursday 26th March.

Creature Features and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine are hosting the event at the Arclight Hollywood cinema, reuniting members of the film’s cast and crew including co-creators SS Wilson and Brent Maddock, director Ron Underwood and actors Michael Gross and Finn Carter.

Scheduled to attend are:

  • Director Ron Underwood
  • Actor Michael Gross (Burt Gummer)
  • Actress Finn Carter (Rhonda LeBeck)
  • Producer Nancy Roberts
  • Screenwriters Brent Maddock & SS Wilson
  • Production Designer Ivo Cristante
  • Make-Up Effects artists Alec Gillis & Tom Woodruff
  • Visual Effects designers Robert & Dennis Skotak
  • and more to be added in the weeks ahead!
  • The Q&A panel will be moderated by David Weiner, Senior Writer with Famous Monsters and author of the upcoming Tremors cover story
  • (All guests are subject to schedule change.)

Advance tickets are $19.50 for general admission and $65 for VIP. VIP admission includes exclusive limited edition screen print, one issue of Famous Monsters #279 with alternate Tremors cover art, preferred seating, and entry into the pre-screening reception with food and beverages included.

It’s unlikely there’ll ever see be a screening of the film with such a strong guest list in attendance again, so if you can make it LA in March I’d recommend heading over to the Creature Features site to buy a ticket today and signing up to my Tremors newsletter for more news like this.

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Tremors in Spain’s Scifiworld magazine

Tremors in Spain’s Scifiworld magazine

With Tremors 25th anniversary now in full swing we can expect to see a number of magazines publishing features on the film and its sequels, with the latest being Spain’s Scifiworld magazine.

Journalist Octavio Lopez Sanjuan has been in touch to say that he interviewed Tremors co-creator/co-writer, SS Wilson, and Burt Gummer himself, Michael Gross, for the article, and the magazine is available in Spanish stores now.

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The Projection Booth discusses Tremors

The Projection Booth discusses Tremors

I’ve been a fan of The Projection Booth podcast for a few years now, a show that picks a random film each week and dissects it through discussion between its hosts, Mike White and Rob St. Mary, various co-hosts and usually somebody who’s either worked on said film or know a bit about its production.

I was honoured last year when I was invited on to discuss the Tremors franchise with Mike and Rob, at a time when I was fully expecting Seeking Perfection to be in the shops. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the sudden announcement of Tremors 5 has thrown that plan into disarray, but the guys at the Projection Booth wanted to celebrate Tremors’ 25th anniversary and were still happy to let me chat all things Graboid for over an hour.

They also interviewed Tremors co-creator/writer, SS Wilson, and director, Ron Underwood, unearthing some facts about the two men that even I didn’t know and causing Ron to mention an actor considered for the role of Earl that he failed to mention during our various conversations…

Please head over to the Projection Booth website to download the episode, and if you listen to it on iTunes perhaps leave the guys a rating as a small thank you for their hard work and enthusiasm.

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Tremors at 25: Looking ahead to Tremors 5

Tremors at 25: Looking ahead to Tremors 5

In the past week I’ve looked back 25 years to the first Tremors film, finding out why the fans still love it, hearing what director Ron Underwood thinks about the film and also getting some insight from other members of the crew on key sequences.

For this post I wanted to take a closer look at the upcoming fifth instalment in the Tremors franchise and hear what fans want from the movie.

We already know a few things about Tremors 5. Firstly, the original creative team behind each of the previous films and the TV series – writers/creators SS Wilson and Brent Maddock and producer  Nancy Roberts at Stampede Entertainmenthave admitted in a statement that the new script is based on their 2004 script for the film.

Although Stampede offered Universal Home Entertainment the opportunity to revive and refresh the franchise, they were forced to withdraw from Tremors 5 when it became clear they’d have no creative control. This also suggests that none of the extended “family” of behind the scenes crew will be returning to do their magic with a tiny budget, as they did on Tremors 2 to 4.

Instead, the script has been written by Tremors 3’s John Whelpley (who wrote 3’s script from Wilson, Maddock and Roberts’ story outline), while the director is Don Michael Paul, known for his work on low budget action films including Sniper: Legacy.

We also know that Michael Gross will be back as Burt Gummer, this time heading to South Africa to take on (according to the press release) “bigger and badder” Graboids and Ass Blasters. Jamie Kennedy will join the team as tech wizard, Travis, while a cast of South African actors will complete the cast.

So what would fans like to see in October’s sequel? I asked that question over on Facebook, and it seems that the absence of Wilson and Maddock is a cause for concern for many:

Glenn Maddock: “A script as funny as Brent & Steve’s and a budget to deliver a great movie.”

Tom Palleschi: “I just hope to see Universal and Don Michael Paul capture the same spirit and sense of fun that was so evident in all of the other films. Wilson, Maddock, Underwood, and all the other great folks at Stampede Entertainment put together something really special with the previous instalments, and I hope to see that tradition upheld.

As far as specifics go, I am incredibly excited to see Burt back in action and cannot wait to revisit that character for the first time in 12 years. I hope to see a new supporting cast as charming and fun to watch as those in the previous instalments, and I hope to see creatures (both new and old) designed and bright to life with the same level of creativity and detail that they have become so iconic for.

Mostly, I just want to experience the thrills I got every time I watched (and rewatched for the millionth time!) one of these films or the series as a kid.”

Tyler Ham: “I also hope it returns to a more “serious” tone like the first film. The first film, though silly at times, was very self aware – as the series continued, they began to sort of feed like parodies of themselves… Burt went from “Survivalist” to paranoid Doomsday prep-er type, for example.”

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Tremors at 25: 5 favourite scenes with commentary

One of the annoying things about the Tremors DVDs and Blu-ray released over the years is that the only one to include a commentary from anyone involved in their production is the Region 1 edition of Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, featuring director, S.S. Wilson.

In Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors, I offer a running commentary on all of the film’s key sequences, one based on interviews with many of those involved in their creation.

For this anniversary week I decided to look at five scenes from the film that I have a particular fondness for and list them along with some commentary from the filmmakers.

There’ll be a lot more detail in the book, but for now here’s a taste of what you can expect in a few months time…

5. Kevin Bacon’s hammer ordeal

Kevin-Bacon-hammer

A few minutes into the film we find Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) attempting to build a fence, with Val left to hammer the wire into place. Thing is, Bacon misses his target more than he hits it, leaving Fred Ward to stare at his apparent mistake before heading off screen.

But was it a mistake? “It was a mistake,” confirms director Ron Underwood. “It was Kevin really trying to pound that thing in. We realised at the time it was funny, and so Fred did his reaction and everything in that.”

4. Riding into the sunset

Western-sunset

I’m a sucker for classic Western, with cowboys riding the range while saving innocents from the bad guys. In Tremors, the baddies are the Graboids, while the cowboys in question are Val and Earl.

As the pair leave Perfection to travel to Bixby following the discovery of a Graboid tentacle, the film is slowed down as they ride into the sunset. “I’m really into speed changes in general,” said Underwood. “It was just a little speed control we had on the camera…that whole horseback ride was fun to do.”

Listen to more from Ron Underwood:

3. The pole vault sequence

One of the film’s most entertaining scenes takes place on some boulders, as Val, Earl and Rhonda are forced to pole vault to safety. It’s accompanied by a fun piece of music from composer Ernest Troost. “It’s one of my favourite scenes,” said Troost.

“I originally scored that scene for orchestra and when we put it into the movie everybody said, ‘It doesn’t have that sense of fun and exhilaration’. So I went in a completely different direction, back to the sort of funky, rootsy blues music.” More

Tremors at 25: TremorsCast 6 – Ron Underwood

For the second post celebrating Tremors’ silver anniversary week I’ve published a new episode of the TremorsCast featuring some audio from my interview with the film’s director, Ron Underwood: the episode is now in audioboom and will be in iTunes soon.

ron-sYesterday I published a post featuring memories from fans on the subject of their earliest Tremors memories, while today’s podcast includes memories from someone who was involved in Tremors from the start.

Ron Underwood had been a friend and colleague of writers SS Wilson and Brent Maddock for a number of years before they collaborated on the development of the script that would become Tremors. Our original interview took in all aspects of pre-production, casting, filming, editing and reception of Tremors and it’s all in the book, but here I’ve included some of our discussion about the film’s casting process.

I also spoke to Ron about the film’s release in 1990 and Universal’s decision to sell it more as a traditional horror film rather than the comedy horror that it was. 

Here’s the episode, let me know what you think in the comments section.

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Tremors at 25: Fan memories

Creature with Kevin and Fred2

Exactly 25 years have passed since a little film called Tremors arrived in US cinemas on 19th January 1990 to scare, shock and bemuse viewers around the country.

The antics of Val McKee, Earl Bassett, Burt and Heather Gummer, Walter Chang, a handful of their friends and neighbours and some giant underground worms in the small Nevada town of Perfection have since become legendary.

This week I plan to celebrate the silver anniversary of Tremors with daily blog posts covering various aspects of the franchise. First off, I’ve been asking fans on Twitter and Facebook to tell me their earliest memories of watching Tremors, with many of them worth publishing here.

I first saw Tremors on BBC One here in the UK on 28th November 1992 at 21.25 (if the BBC’s Genome project is to be believed) and was struck by the film’s mixture of comedy and horror. It’s pure entertainment from start to finish, with not a second wasted on extraneous detail. I was clearly impressed enough to want to write a book about the franchise of three (soon to be four) sequels and a TV series, though I didn’t realise it at the time.

So, it’s over to the fans to explain why they love the film so much. Tomorrow I’ll let Tremors director Ron Underwood explain a bit more about how the film came to be in a new podcast, but until then here’s an email I received last week…

Tremors is one of my all-time favourite film series; it’s rather difficult to just convey everything through just some words. I’ll try to be as short as I can. You can just feel the love, creativity and dedication that was put behind the script, characters and creature designs. They were adventurous, thrilling, funny, and most of all full of heart. Wilson and Maddock really put their signature into it.

I was introduced to the series back in 2002-2003, when Tremors 2 was aired on a local TV channel at a very late hour. Despite being pretty young back then, I stayed until the very end. The creatures of the film immediately captured my imagination — they were unlike anything I had ever seen, and they looked incredibly believable. Tremors 2 portrays incredibly life-like creatures, despite its low budget. There is a scene where one of the Shriekers is thrashing the Volvo’s engine; it rears its head and rotates it slightly. It’s a simple shot, but the character feels organic and alive. I also loved the sound effects, and found the signature ‘shriek’ both ominous and intriguing.

Needless to say, Tremors 2 really had got me hooked, so I began hunting for the first film; I quickly acquired a VHS after some months (the film was rare at the time). Again, a fantastic experience. Tremors is one of the last great all-practical Monster films, with an excellent mixture of full size animatronics and miniature effects — with a brilliant continuity between shots, so much that I did not realize many sequences are actually small scale Graboids in miniature sets! Both ADI and the Skotak brothers brought to the screen absolutely wonderful special effects.

The VHS got worn out over some time due to how much I watched the film. Some time later, thanks to a local video rental shop, I was able to see the third and the — recently released — fourth films. The Tremors series was also aired over a short time, and I managed to see the entirety of it twice. The Graboids and their life cycle were among my favourite subjects to draw and write about. I even remember writing a whole essay (on a ruled sheet of paper, no less) about their biology and ecology, complete with printed images glued to the top and sides. Around 2006 I bought the Legacy Boxset — the one I currently own and display proudly in my home video collection.

I’ve watched the films again regularly ever since, and still today they are among the films I am most affectioned to (the first two particularly). It’s great to know good old Tremors has come this far and is so fondly remembered by so many people across the world. 25 years of Underground Monsters. Awesome.

David Sword

On Facebook I asked for some memories of the first film and you can see them by clicking the word balloon on the post below:

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Michael Gross reveals Tremors 5 release date

When Tremors 5 was announced in late 2014, press materials revealed a 2016 release date for the South Africa-set sequel. Today, actor Michael Gross took to his Facebook page to announce that the film will in fact be released in October 2015.

The new film finds an older Burt Gummer (Gross) being called to South Africa following the appearance of what is rumoured to be a new mutation of the Graboid. Gross stars alongside Jamie Kennedy as tech genius, Travis.

The news comes just a few weeks ahead of the official 25th anniversary of the original Tremors, which was released into US cinemas on 19th January, 1990. 

I’m planning to celebrate the anniversary of the first film on this blog, Twitter and Facebook, keep an eye out for more in the coming weeks…

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Seeking Perfection: December 2014 update

It’s Christmas Eve as I write this blog post, a day that I had hoped would find Tremors fans around the globe eagerly awaiting their copy of Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors in their stocking tomorrow morning.

Sadly, my plans for a December 2014 publication date were foiled by a few factors that I’ll try to summarise here.

Although I’d heard rumblings of a fifth Tremors film earlier in the year, nothing was confirmed until October, meaning I rapidly had to rewrite the book’s ending to incorporate what we knew about the sequel. On top of that, I underestimated the amount of editing required: I’ve had a few editors read through the book, each of them asking questions about parts of the text or noting spelling mistakes.

All of this is part and parcel of writing a book, but I’m pleased to say that it’s now almost complete, bar a few final tweaks and the addition of photographs, which I’m now working on.

Rather than give another estimated publication date, I’m just going to say that the book won’t be released in the first few months of 2015 but that I hope to announce something in late January. While I wanted the book to be out for the “official” anniversary date of 19 January (the date in 1990 that Tremors was released in US cinemas), I’d rather not rush it. Fans have waited this long for a complete history of the franchise, hopefully another few months won’t be too much of a problem.

In the meantime, I’ve heard about a number of exciting ways the 25th anniversary will be celebrated in print, video and audio in 2015, and I’ll be publishing blog posts throughout next year to help spread the word.

I’ll also publish more podcasts featuring updates on the book and the Tremors universe, while snippets of my interviews featured in the book will be included.

Finally, here’s an early Christmas present, some never-before-published behind the scenes photos from the set of Tremors in 1989. The first was taken by actress Charlotte Stewart (Nancy) and shows her and Kevin Bacon between takes.

Copyright Charlotte Stewart

The second photo comes from production designer Ivo Cristante, and shows an early stage in the building of Burt and Heather Gummer’s home.

Copyright Ivo Cristante

Copyright Ivo Cristante

Have a fantastic Christmas and a Tremors-filled 2015!

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