So I have an interesting history with this movie. Years ago, while lazing about my mom’s house, I caught the tail end of this movie on HBO. As I watched I was curious as to what movie I was watching (I was too lazy to check the guide to see what the movie was) but Fred Ward and Michael Gross being in it clued me in. Sure enough, I later learned that it was a sequel to Tremors, which I had not even been aware existed. Anyways, a few years ago the 5th movie in the series came out and, feeling like rewatching all of the other movies, I decided to buy the series in a box set. Now let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Tremors 2: Aftershocks.
The plot: At the Petromaya Oil Field in Chiapas, Mexico, a worker is shown to be crawling across some pipes, trying to stay off the ground, while something is moving underneath the ground behind him. Reaching the end of the pipe, the man starts jumping on the tops of nearby barrels but ends up being knocked to the ground and killed by a Graboid. In Perfection Nevada, Earl Basset is still living in the isolated town and attempting to start an ostrich ranch when he is approached by Carlos Ortega, the owner of the oil pipeline. Ortega explains that his workers have been attacked by Graboids and he wants Earl to hunt them down and kill them, having already asked Val McKee to help as well but been refused. Earl refuses as well and heads inside his trailer but Grady Hoover, the taxi driver the brought Ortega to see Earl follows him in to talk. Grady explains that he is a big fan of Earl and Val and Earl tells him that Val had married a good woman (Rhonda) while he blew all of his money on fis failing ranch. Grady tells Earl that Ortega is willing to pay $50,000 for each Graboid that they kill and eventually manages to convince Earl to accept the deal and take him as his partner. When they get down to Mexico, Ortega greets them and introduces them to Pedro, the chief engineer, and then says that he will pay double if they manage to capture one of the Graboids alive, which Earl reacts in angered disbelief at the request. Ortega then shows them the supplies they requested from the Mexican Army, then introduces them to the company’s geologist Kate Reilly before wishing them luck and leaving. Kate introduces them to her assistant Julio, who had been planting seismographs in the region so they can help track the Graboids. Later that night, Earl is talking with Kate about the attacks and why she stayed, while both of them check each other out when they are not looking. Meanwhile, Grady has made hooked some cans to a chain and is attaching it to the back of Earl’s truck to use in attracting the Graboids attention while Julio attaches a seismograph monitor into their car so they will be able to detect Graboid movements. The next day, Earl and Grady set out and head to the spot where most of the attacks have occurred. After driving around for a while, Earl sees a Graboid on the monitor and tells Grady to stop the truck. They then place some dynamite into an RC car and send it out into the field, then detonate the dynamite after the Graboid swallows the car, killing it. Using this method, Earl and Grady manage to kill several Graboids before taking a break on some rocks, but Grady leaves a radio on the ground and it ends up being swallowed by a Graboid. Continuing on to the next day, Earl and Grady manage to kill 12 Graboids, which results in $300,000 for each of them, and they start talking about what they will do with their money; as Earl wants to simply invest it while Grady wants to open a monster themed theme-park. When Grady steps onto the ground to retrieve his umbrella, they suddenly hear music coming towards them just as Earl sees a Graboid approaching on the monitor. Earl tells Grady to get back in the truck and he does so, barely avoiding being swallowed by the Graboid that swallowed their radio. The Graboid manages to snag onto the chains and begins dragging the truck through the valley before it eventually snaps the chain. As Earl and Grady recover from the experience, they see several more Graboids all converging on their position so they quickly get out of there and head back to base camp. Earl contacts Burt Gummer and asks him to come down and help him out and Burt agrees, confiding to Earl that Heather left him. Earl, Grady, and Burt head back out to the valley and begin searching for more Graboids. Earl and Grady detect a Graboid on the monitor and notice it is moving away from them so they decide to follow it. Earl starts worrying the Graboids are planning something just as the Graboid appears before them and Earl ends up wrecking his truck when he quickly throws it in reverse to avoid the Graboid. As Earl goes to get his weapon, Grady goes to check on the Graboid and notices it is still above ground. The get closer and Earl says it might be sick but Grady is excited about the fact that they captured a live Graboid. Earl contacts Kate and tells her to send Pedro out to pick them up and as they settle in for the night to wait for Pedro, the tell Burt about their capturing a live specimen. Suddenly, they hear the Graboid making a strange roaring cry before falling silent and as they go to check on the Graboid, they find it is dead, with a giant, gaping hole in it’s side. Grady thinks something ate the Graboid but Earl says it looks more like something came out of it, similare to a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. They hear roaring coming from another Graboid somewhere in the valley just as they see Pedro’s truck start to approach before suddenly stopping. With no choice left to them, Earl and Grady decide to make their way to Pedro’s truck only to find the engine completely destroyed and Pedro missing, with only his hands left behind still clutching onto the roll bar in the truck bed. Earl says this is something new and, seeing a radio tower in the distance, decides to head there to try and call for help. Meanwhile, Burt is driving along and recording a video log of his hunt, saying that due to lack of radio contact with anyone, he is heading back to the main camp and that he has not seen any sign of Graboids, in spite of tracking one to that location. Back at the radio tower, Earl and Grady discover the tower’s power source had been destroyed, explaining why the radios no longer work. Seeing a car nearby, Grady starts trying to hotwire it when the hear something approaching from behind a nearby shed. Taking cover behind the car, Earl and Grady take aim and are surprised to see a small, bipedal creature resembling a Graboid appear. When the creature appears to notice them, it lets out a loud shriek and charges at them but Earl is able to shoot and kill it. Hearing more of the creatures approaching, they quickly get in the car and leave as more “Shriekers” appear from behind the shed. The next morning, Kate and Julio are discussing the lack of contact from anyone when Julio is killed by a Shrieker. Earl and Grady show up and kill the Shrieker, then head inside to check on Kate but as they go to leave, they find another Shrieker has destroyed their car’s engine so Earl quickly kills it. Burt shows up, having had his own encounter with the Shriekers but he managed to catch a live one. Bringing Burt’s truck into the garage, they take the live specimen to the lab for study, unaware that another Shrieker had survived, clinging to the underside of Burt’s truck. Doing some tests, they discover that the Shriekers are blind and deaf but sense objects through infared. When Grady throws one of Burt’s MRE’s into the cage, the creature eats it and then regurgitates a new Shrieker and Kate says that they are hermaphroditic, able to reproduce at an exponential rate depending on how much they eat. Suddenly, another Shrieker bursts through the window and Earl sees dozens of them getting into Burt’s MREs. They quickly run outside to try and shut the warehouse door but are too late as some Shriekers have already made it outside. Grady leads them towards another building to take shelter but they find that it isn’t finished; consisting of one finished wall and a frame. Realizing the Shriekers can’t detect them through the walls, Earl comes up with a plan and uses some nearby doors to shield themselves as they try to make their way to Julio’s car. Ducking behind a wall, they find another Shrieker nearby and Burt uses his last bullet to kill it, but the bullet goes through the wall behind it, as well as several other object, before going through Julio’s engine block. Finding themselves confronted by more Shriekers, they are all forced to hide, with Burt hiding in a bulldozer’s scoop, Grady climbing onto some oil tanks, and Kate and Earl hiding in the cantina. As the Shriekers try to break in, Earl heats up some pants and suspends them from a clothes line to distract the Shrieker, allowing him and Kate to climb up the tanks with Grady. As Earl, Burt, and Grady start arguing, Kate tells them that nobody has heard from them since the night before so they should just wait until help arrives. As they wait, Earl and Kate talk and Earl realizes that she happens to be his favorite Playboy playmate. When the Shriekers start climbing on top of each other to try and get to Earl and the others, Burt climbs out of the bucket and lures the Shriekers back into the warehouse, sealing them in. Everyone starts cheering until they hear the Shrieker crying out and realize that the warehouse contains snack cakes. Earl comes up with a plan and has Kate and Burt spray him down with CO2 extinguishers to mask his body heat, then he heads into the warehouse to grab a bomb from Burt’s truck. He manages to grab a bomb as the CO2 starts melting off and as the Shriekers detect him and start swarming the truck, he throws it into the back of the truck. Kate, Grady, and Burt help Earl escape and he tells them to run as he threw the bomb in the back of the truck but as they duck behind a building, Burt tells them to keep running, as he had 2 1/2 tons of high explosives in the truck. They keep running until they reach a ditch and Burt tells them to take cover as the bomb explodes. As they avoid the falling debris, they all start cheering their survival and Grady reminds them that they survived so Ortega owes them for all of the Graboids they killed, though he might be upset that they blew up the refinery. Earl and Kate talk about starting a relationship while Grady tries to convince Earl to go in on his theme park idea.
Tremors 2: Aftershocks met with positive results from the critics, holding a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics felt that it was a fairly good sequel, matching the humor that was found in the original. Originally, Kevin Bacon was scheduled to be in the sequel but when the budget was cut from $17 million to $4 million, the studio couldn’t afford to have him in the movie. The creators wanted to give the film a theatrical release but though the studio said no to a wide release, it did receive a limited release in some theaters.
This is a pretty funny movie and definitely fit with the pattern of the series. The acting was good, with Fred Ward (Earl) and Michael Gross (Burt) doing a good job reprising their respective roles. I liked Chris Gartin’s character of Grady but I honestly thought Helen Shaver’s character (Kate) was a little weak and wound up being the stereotypical screaming girl too often. The story was good, switching the location and introducing the evolution aspect to keep things from being stale. They did take away some of the horror aspect to focus on the comedy but I think that actually helped make the movie more entertaining, as the straight up horror aspect would not have done well a second time around. I also like the change of the Shriekers hunting using infared, as it wouldn’t make as much sense for them to still use sound when they were moving above ground. The special effects actually weren’t too bad considering the budget and I thought the design of the Shriekers was pretty good. It’s some guilty pleasure silliness that is worth watching if you need some laughs.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5