Field Guide to Invertebrates in Film: Tremors

Tremors (1990)
Critter: An enormous and hideous underground worm called a graboid,or more formally Caederus mexicana. A frighteningly complete life history is available here.
Size: 30 feet in length
Modus Operandi: An eyeless, underground predator that senses prey vibrations on the surface, attacks by grabbing prey and gorily consuming them
How the Menace Emerges: A lovely mystery
End Goal: Dinner
Ah, finally a decent invertebrate flick. It’s been so long since I’ve reviewed a movie that wasn’t awful that I hardly know what to say. Tremors does right what so many critter flicks get wrong. It’s fun, smart, funny, action-packed, quick-paced, made for adults and loaded with likeable practical effects. It would be overdoing it to say that Tremors is a masterwork, but it is without a doubt, a solid piece of critter filmmaking. It isn’t exactly original, and a lot of its charm comes from the utilization of time-tested techniques, but it seems to land in that well-crafted category of B-flicks* that hits all of the necessary points to come off as a fine piece of craftmanship. There are far too many folks on the internet that are obsessed with this fine film for me to add anything to the mix, but if you have a spare 96 minutes one Saturday afternoon, it won’t be a waste of time.
* I’ve read that Tremors had a budget of about 11 million, which in my book makes it more of an A flick. Still, in 1990 Arachnophobia had a budget three times as large.

Nit-picking Science: One of the nicest things about Tremors is that, aside from a bit of healthy speculation, the scientific explanations are left almost entirely out of this tale. It might make this section of the guide a little dull, but it does wonders for a monster action flick. Even so, the makers of the Latin name for the critter picked a good one. If I’m not mistaken, the genus designation Caederus is derived from caedes or caedo, both words having to do with killing, slaughter, carnage, etc. Yay!

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