Tremors (Arrow Blu Ray, Reg B)

TremorsTremors is one of my all time favourite comedy/horror films. It takes the 1950s monster movie, and adds a 1980s angle to it. A failure at the box office originally, Tremors went on to become a much loved home video hit. But is it worth the lavish treatment it has received from Arrow? Well, read on and find out…

Synopsis:

Taken from the Arrow website:

Good-ol’-boy handymen Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) are sick of their dead-end jobs in one-horse desert town Perfection, Nevada (population: 14). Just as they’re about to escape Perfection forever, however, things start to get really weird: half-eaten corpses litter the road out of town; the phone lines stop working; and a plucky young scientist shows evidence of unusually strong seismic activity in the area. Something is coming for the citizens of Perfection… and it’s under the goddamn ground!

So, that’s the story encapsulated nicely. The plot is as simple as these films get (monster appears, attacks people, they fight back), but it works beautifully. The makers waste little time with any complicated set up, and get the audience up to speed pretty quickly. There is no superfluous exposition or diversions. Once the action begins in Tremors, it doesn’t let up for a minute.

Tremors: Analysis:

Being a 1980s take on 1950s monster movie tropes, Tremors actually feels quite fresh. Apart from Jaws and a few low rent knock offs, monster movies had been a largely ignored sub genre for years when Tremors came along. The films true masterstroke is in it’s cast of characters. Everyone in the film is just an ordinary person. Even the token scientist is just a student seismologist, not a fancy professor. And the residents of Perfection are a wonderful cross section of American society. You have the immigrant striving to achieve the American Dream, the artist wanting to be free, the survivalists who just want to be left alone. And the you have our central pair: Val and Earl.

Val and Earl are a classic “odd couple” pairing of an older, more cynical man, and his young, brash accomplice. Both stuck in Perfection they long for a way out, and just as they find one, it is taken away from them by those pesky Graboids.

The films other highlight is the character of Burt Gummer. Burt is a take on the classical American survivalist. With the Communist paranoia of the 70s & 80s still rampant, Burt is prepping his home in the desert for a war he feels is inevitable. Seen as a bit of a kook by the other residents, it is partly due to his arsenal of weaponry that the Graboids can be successfully fought. Indeed, Burt was such a popular character that he is the only one to have appeared in all the sequels (and the solitary prequel).

Also, the films creature effects are superb. A mix of large scale animatronics, and puppetry, the Graboids look as real as possible. There is a texture and life to them that CG just can not replicate, no matter how much it tries.

The Extras:

The contents in all their glory

Arrow have really gone to town with this exhaustive limited edition release:

SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY CONTENTS:

  • New 4K restoration from the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Ron Underwood and director of photography Alexander Gruszynski.
  • 60-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing by Kim Newman and Jonathan Melville and selected archive materials.
  • Large fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Frank.
  • Small fold-out double-sided poster featuring new Graboid X-ray art by Matt Frank.
  • Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards.
  • Limited Edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Frank.

DISC 1 – FEATURE & EXTRAS:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation.
  • Restored DTS-HD MA original theatrical 2.0 stereo, 4.0 surround, and remixed 5.1 surround audio options.
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • New audio commentary by director Ron Underwood and writers/producers Brent Maddock & S.S. Wilson.
  • New audio commentary by Jonathan Melville, author of Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors.
  • Making Perfection. A brand new documentary by Universal Pictures interviewing key cast and crew from the franchise (including Kevin Bacon, Michael Gross, Ariana Richards, Ron Underwood, Brent Maddock & S.S. Wilson, among many others) and revisiting the original locations.
  • The Truth About Tremors. A newly filmed interview with co-producer Nancy Roberts on the film’s rocky road to the screen.
  • Bad Vibrations. A newly filmed interview with director of photography Alexander Gruszynski.
  • Aftershocks and Other Rumblings. Newly filmed on-set stories from associate producer Ellen Collett.
  • Digging in the Dirt. A new featurette interviewing the crews behind the film’s extensive visual effects.
  • Music for Graboids. A new featurette on the film’s music with composers Ernest Troost and Robert Folk.
  • Pardon My French! A newly assembled compilation of overdubs from the edited-for television version.
  • The Making of Tremors. An archive documentary from 1995 by Laurent Bouzereau, interviewing the filmmakers and special effects teams.
  • Creature Featurette. An archive compilation of on-set camcorder footage showing the making of the Graboids.
  • Electronic press kit featurette and interviews with Kevin Bacon, Michael Gross and Reba McEntire.
  • Deleted scenes, including the original opening scene.
  • Theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots for the original film as well as trailers for the entire Tremors franchise.
  • Comprehensive image galleries, including rare behind-the-scenes stills, storyboards and two different drafts of the screenplay.

DISC 2 – INTERVIEWS & SHORT FILMS (LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE):

  • Extended hour-long interviews from Making Perfection with Ron Underwood, Brent Maddock, S.S. Wilson, Nancy Roberts and creature designer Alec Gillis.
  • Outtakes with optional introduction and commentary by S.S. Wilson.
  • Three early short films by the makers of Tremors, remastered in high definition. Includes S.S. Wilson’s stop-motion horror/comedy classic Recorded Live (1975).

There is just so much content here. The behind the scenes material really shows just how much those involved loved the film. Everyone interviewed seems happy to be there, talking about a cherished experience. And the raft of other bonuses are superb. The booklet is brilliantly written, and the artwork extras are stunning. Arrow have once more produced a definitive set to bring the film out in.

Tremors: The Verdict:

Well, what can I say? Tremors is not only an absolutely fantastic film, but Arrow have produced an outstanding set. The film looks incredible, far better than a film of it’s budget should in fact. The audio is superb, and the whole package is just sublime.

This is a guaranteed 5/5 Fiends.

Buy Tremors: Tremors @ Arrow Store

Tremors Gallery:

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