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 Entertainment – have 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.”


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


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.”

Listen to more from Ron Underwood:

listen to ‘TremorsCast 6: Ron Underwood interview’ on audioBoom

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.

listen to ‘TremorsCast 6: Ron Underwood interview’ on audioBoom

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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:


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.

Post by Michael Gross.

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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Michael Gross to return in 2015 with Tremors 5 – UPDATED

Tremors 5

Update 17/10/14 – Today I added an important update to this story from Stampede Entertainment – please see below for the news.

Buy Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors!

Ten years on from the release of Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, and a few months before 1990’s Tremors celebrates its 25th anniversary, news has broken that Tremors 5 will be released in 2016 starring Michael Gross as Burt Gummer.

Gross has been hinting on Facebook since September that his current African shoot might have something to do with giant underground worms, and today Universal Pictures Home Entertainment confirmed it with a press release:

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment: Tremors 5




The fifth heart-pounding installment in the action-packed sci-fi comedy-adventure franchise, Tremors 5 began principal photography in South Africa on September 22, 2014. With even more deadly creatures on the loose, Tremors 5 continues the films’ hallmark combination of adrenaline-laced suspense, explosive action and tongue-in-cheek humor. Michael Gross returns for his fifth appearance in the Tremors films alongside new cast member, Scream film series star Jamie Kennedy in this original release from Universal 1440 Entertainment, a production entity of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Tremors 5 will be released on Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def, DVD and Digital HD in 2016.

The theatrical release of the original Tremors in 1990 combined suspense-filled action, sci-fi imagination and witty humor in the tale of a tiny Nevada town terrorized by giant man-eating worms known as Graboids. The Graboids eventually morphed into even more deadly creatures known as Ass Blasters. In this all-new adventure that travels halfway around the world to South Africa, the Graboids and the Ass Blasters are not only bigger and badder but Tremors 5 introduces an additional unexpected surprise that raises the stakes in the battle for survival.

“The Tremors franchise has built a reputation for high intensity fun and suspense and this installment takes it to a whole new level,” said Glenn Ross, General Manager and Executive Vice President, Universal 1440 Entertainment.

Michael Gross (“Anger Management,” “Suits,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Family Ties,” Tremors franchise) returns as weapons enthusiast and expert subterranean creature hunter Burt Gummer with Jamie Kennedy (“The Cleveland Show,” “Ghost Whisperer,” Scream series) as his new right hand man, tech-savvy Travis. The pair are joined by an international cast as they mount a battle against the deadly creatures that turns out to be far more than they bargained for.

The film is directed by Don Michael Paul (Jarhead 2: Field of Fire, Sniper: Legacy) from a script by John Whelpley (Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, TV’s “Dallas”) and produced by Ogden Gavanski (The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Fire, Warm Bodies).

Michael Gross also posted a new image of Burt on Facebook this evening:

Michael Gross 2014

While it’s exciting to know that everyone’s favourite survivalist will soon be returning, there’s no word yet on the involvement of series creators, S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, or their production company, Stampede Entertainment. It does seem that the script is loosely based on their decade-old Tremors 5 script written after Tremors 4’s release in 2004, but the press release suggests it was written solely by Tremors 3 screenwriter, John Whelpley.

If it turns out Stampede are not involved, this will be the first time in 25 years that a Tremors project hasn’t involved its creators.

Update 17/10/14: Today saw the publication of a statement from Stampede Entertainment regarding their involvement with Tremors 5, which I’ve published in full below. As I noted in my original post, S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, Nancy Roberts and Ron Underwood brought each Tremors film/TV series to cinema and TV screens as creators, writers, producers and directors:

Press release 10/16/2014

As we approach the 25th anniversary of Tremors, we have news about Tremors 5.

Most fans are aware that Universal Studios has announced production of a new DVD sequel, being shot in South Africa. For all of us at Stampede, this is a bittersweet development in our long connection with the franchise, since we, the creators, are not involved.

Stampede has always been interested in reassembling the original Tremors creative team to produce a fresh new theatrical sequel in the Tremors voice. We attempted rights negotations with Universal for an independent theatrical film in 2012. However, the studio passed on the option, preferring to continue the franchise with DVDs at some future date.

Early in 2014, Universal Home Video indicated that they were budgeting another sequel based on a 2004 script written by Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson. While they pointed out that they had “no further contractual obligation” to Stampede, they did offer us Executive Producer positions. But they also made it clear that in this new even-lower budget project, the Stampede’ partners’ participation would be severely restricted, with little control over cast, director, special effects, locations, or indeed any aspect of production.

It was always only our full involvement as creators that gave us the means and incentive to reinvigorate and expand the Tremors universe with Tremors 2, 3, 4 and the series — despite the significant increasing budget limitations. Without meaningful creative control allowing us to continue to guarantee the integrity of our Tremors vision, we sadly declined to be involved.

The entire Stampede Team extends a big THANK YOU to the loyal fans who have clamored for this movie for so long. For your viewing pleasure, we hope it’s good!

The Stampede Partners:
S. S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, Nancy Roberts, Ron Underwood.

This casts something of a shadow over the Tremors 5 news for long-term fans, with the Stampede team’s unique approach to the films ensuring a consistency through each of the films and the series. During my many interviews for the book it’s become clear just how difficult it is to produce FX-heavy films on tight budgets. Many of those involved in the films have gone above and beyond what is expected of them simply because they are Tremors films and not generic action/horror/sci-fi flicks. For them, Tremors is only Tremors because of Stampede.

In the spirit of Stampede’s statement, it’s only fair to wait and see how the new film pans out and to support Michael Gross as he carries the baton for the franchise. I’ll be reporting on the film in as much detail as I can before its release in 2016 and it’s my hope that, if Tremors 5 is a success, Stampede will be back in control for Tremors 6 and beyond, alongside Mr Gross.

It’s also worth mentioning that the new film throws doubt on the recent announcement by original Tremors star, Kevin Bacon, that he’s keen to star in a 25th anniversary reboot of the franchise.

There’s more details on the various attempts to bring a fifth Tremors film to the screen in Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors.

Read a preview of Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors!

Find out where to buy the book, including signed copies from the author.

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Kevin Bacon to return in Tremors reboot?

Anyone following the progress of this book will know that 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the world’s greatest underground worm movie, Tremors. Now it seems Kevin Bacon wants to celebrate the fact.

Despite my best attempts to contact Kevin for the book, he’s not yet got back to me for an interview, which made the following interview such a surprise when I watched it this morning.

According to numerous reports over the years, Kevin considers Tremors to be a low point in his career, stemming from various personal issues in his own life at the time. Yesterday, in an interview with HuffPost Live, Kevin admitted he’d recently watched the film and was “pleasantly surprised” by it. He also admitted that he has “a real dream to reboot it, and to see the character 25 years down the line…to see what that guy may have become.”

Kevin also admitted to sleepwalking during the shoot in Lone Pine, California, “saving” his pregnant wife from giant worms.

How would you feel about a new Tremors film revisiting the character of Val McKee 25 years on? Should it also reunite him with original co-star, Fred Ward? We already know from Tremors 2: Aftershocks that Val married Rhonda LaBeck after the events of the first film – where is he now?

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TremorsCast 5: Ariana Richards

Episode five of the TremorsCast is now online and in iTunes:  this time you’ll hear some audio from my interview with actress Ariana Richards, Mindy in Tremors and Tremors 3: Back to Perfection and also one of the stars of Jurassic Park.

The book’s manuscript continues to come together, though there’s still a way to go before it’s ready for its December publication date. There are still some interviews to carry out for the TV series and there’s been a lot of fact checking going on lately. It’s looking like the first film will make up the bulk of the book, around a quarter of it, and the rest will be devoted to the sequels and TV series.

Last month found Tremors being discussed by the UK’s Hammered Horror podcast and they kindly invited me on to discuss the Tremors franchise and the upcoming book. I’m not sure if I made much sense, but if you want to hear a fun take on the Tremors movies, have a listen to their podcast.

Elsewhere, Burt Gummer himself, Michael Gross, recently took to Twitter and Facebook to share photos from his various films and TV series and to offer news on upcoming projects. Fans of the Tremors TV show can also find Rosalita, aka actress Gladise Jimenez, on Facebook and Twitter.