Pros: Thrills and chills, with the Graboids. Fred and Michael back for their roles. Great Creatures.
Cons: Less complex than the first. Three and half stars.
Tremors II: Aftershocks. (1996) Directed by S. S. Wilson
"I am COMPLETELY out of ammo. That's never happened to me before." -Burt Gum-mer.
With the surprising success of Tremors, you knew a sequel could not be far behind. Now the pre-Cambrian life forms are back but this time down in Old Mexico.
Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) is living a marginal life as an ostrich rancher, so a little persuasion and $50,000 a carcass entices him to take on the job as Graboid Eliminator.
Joined by Grady Hoover (Christopher Gartin) the employer's taxi driver, and Earl's number one fan, they set off for the Petromaya refinery to grab some glory.
Earl has learned a thing or two about dealing with the earth-boring monsters; he has a seismograph that gives them a fish finder view of the terrain, and remote controlled cars, armed with explosives. When their moving truck attracts a Graboid, they stop, deploy the toy car, and wait for it to get eaten, then detonate. Earl always remembers to get his umbrella up in time for the raining body parts in bright orange. It is pretty much a cake walk.
But Graboids are noted for learning, and they gang up on the boys. It is time to call in help.
Burt Gum-mer, (Michael Gross) survivalist extraordinaire is at loose ends. Heather left him after the fall of Russia (Burt took it pretty hard) and this is exactly the kind of thing he needs to feel useful again.
So it's Graboids back on the defensive in light of Burt's superior fire power.
But they have another trick up their sleeve, or cloacae, and give birth to a new kind of monster; a petite two legged surface runner, and it is a whole new ball game.
Worse, they seem to be smart, systematically disabling vehicles and communications towers. Once again, Earl is in a bowl, cut off from civilization with the monsters closing in.
Earl gets the girl this time around, a geologist named Kate Riley (Helen Shaver), so it is very much the same movie as before, with a few wrinkles. Can the humans stay ahead of the Graboid learning curve?
Sadly, this movie fails to capture some of the magic of the first. Like Alien and Aliens, the second batch lacks the large crew of civilians to become worm food. It is much more an even fight. I think it was the common everyday folk overcoming adversity that made the first movie a success. Here, everyone is either, a veteran, retarded, the hot scientist chick, or a Hispanic redshirt.
Still, the pacing is pretty good, the action is fun, and the special effects sell the monsters. There were a few "cut corner" moments, when the monster was nothing but a spray of dirt coming from off camera, but all in all, they gave the audience what they came to see.
The magic between Val and Earl is not here though. Grady is no Valentine McKee, and Christopher Gartin is no Kevin Bacon. Still, some of the running gags run true; Rock, Paper, Scissors. But the animosity that coloured the Earl/Burt relationship is gone. Both men have learned to respect each other.
Sadly though, this leaves the show with fewer threads to follow, making it a shallower paler imitation of the original. I did not expect anything different, but I was hoping for more.
As the second in a series of four, this is a weak sister to the original, but still a worthy action movie. And it is necessary if you are going to follow the series to its conclusion.
This review, like Burt, is Lean-N-Mean. It crawls in at 600 words. It is also entered into the MsBunnylicious Wicked Hallows Write Off.