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
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
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.”
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.”
2. The sinking station wagon
The Graboids make their mark in this lengthy sequence which found Dr. Jim (Conrad Bachman) and his wife (Bibi Besch) coming under attack from the underground foes. Sadly, the expensive hydraulics failed, leaving the filmmakers scratching their heads.
“The idea was for this station wagon to be pulled down in jerks and to submerge three quarters of the way and we’d do other shots to indicate it had been pulled the rest of the way,” explained co-writer, Brent Maddock. “We got that far and the whole rig stopped.” Maddock explains how they solved the problem in the book…
1. The goddamn rec room
It’s hard to believe when watching Tremors for the first (or umpteenth) time, but the infamous sequence set in Burt (Michael Gross) and Heather Gummer’s (Reba McEntire) recreational room, in which they take on a Graboid with their own armoury, is a mixture of both full size and miniature effects.
The shot of the creature breaking through the wall was achieved with a full size Graboid head built by the team at Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc (ADI) in a full size set, but from then on the set is a model created by FX team Robert and Dennis Skotak, with a miniature Graboid from ADI.
“That basement set was one of the trickier things because there were so many pieces in it,” said Robert Skotak. “We built the three walls, floor and the ceiling opposite where Michael Gross and Reba were, so that whole end of the basement, the stairway, all the tools, etc, we had to build all of that [in miniature].”
Let me know your favourite scenes in the comments below.
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