TREMORS 4:THE LEGEND BEGINS
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Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
TREMORS was a damn good movie. It's one of the best monster movies of all time, as far as I'm concerned, which is why I gave it a five out of five on the shriek girl scale. The sequels have been okay: TREMORS 2 (three shriek girls) and TREMORS 3 (just barely three shriek girls). So now we have TREMORS 4, a prequel. Better? Or worse?
TREMORS 4 was directed by S.S. Wilson (TREMORS 2) and written by Scott Buck (SIX FEET UNDER [TV], THE OBLONGS [TV]), with story and character credit going to a whole committee of people, including Mr. Wilson. The movie begins in the old West in the small mining town of Rejection (which we know from the other films will someday be renamed "Perfection"). Juan Padilla (Brent Roam: DEEP BLUE SEA) is working in the silver mine when something terrible comes out of the walls and kills everyone but Juan. People aren't sure what to make of his crazy story but the silver mine is shut down and the town empties.
Not long after the stagecoach (the last scheduled stagecoach for the ghost-town-to-be) brings the owner of the mine who has come to see why production has stopped. The owner is Hiram Gummer (Michael Gross: TREMORS [all], SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK ... AGAIN, BATMAN BEYOND: THE MOVIE), great-grandfather of Burt Gummer, the character Michael Gross played in all his other Tremors outings. Hiram is nowhere near the self-reliant survivalist his great-grandson will be. Instead, he is a prissy little city slicker who doesn't carry a gun and is afraid of horses.
Hiram hires Juan and a few other foolhardy locals to check out the mine, which of course does not go well. In the process we see one new aspect to the "graboid" life cycle, which has been expanded upon in each movie. This turns out to be the larval stage of the traditional graboids from the first film and it's them we see throughout the rest of this movie.
And when I say, "see throughout the rest of this movie", what I mean is, "see on the rare occasion when they show us the damn monster instead of boring us with lame dialogue and uninteresting characters." There are long stretches where all that happens is the various interactions between the characters as they sit around town waiting for the monsters. It's like watching a very bad Western TV show made for the Family Channel.
The graboids are cool, as always, and I did enjoy Black Hand Kelly (Billy Drago: VAMP, IMPRINT), the way over the top gunslinger that gets hired to kill the big beasts. But the forced chemistry between Hiram and store proprietor Christine (Sara Botsford: DEADLY EYES) is almost as annoying as when the rest of the cliché cast spout clichés at each other.
Speaking of which, it's time for my cliché
There's also a lot of logical flaws I could mention, like how hideously irresponsible it is for the "good guys" to decide to keep the graboids a secret (taking for granted that there aren't any more out there) and how obvious it is that capturing and exhibiting these creatures would be a much greater source of fame and fortune than re-opening the silver mine. What I will mention is that I like Michael Gross and that his portrayal of Burt Gummer is one of the most fun things about the Tremors storyline, but that his portrayal of Hiram Gummer is not his best work.
TREMORS 4 gets a one on the shriek girl scale.