1990’s “Tremors” and I go a long way. It’s not just one of my all time favorite monster movies, but it’s also a childhood favorite and has a ton of nostalgic value. I first started watching it when my mom recorded it on VHS off of cable TV back in the heyday of the 1990’s. I wore that VHS out, suffice to say. I loved it and still love it. So imagine my surprise when in 1996, in came “Tremors 2: Aftershocks.” While this follow up is not at all like the original film it still manages to be pretty darn fun.
After spending all the reward money from his first encounter with the giant man-eating worms called “Graboids,” Earl Bassett agrees to hunt more of the deadly creatures at a Mexican oil refinery for $50,000 each. Knowing that he cannot face the monsters alone, Earl recruits Burt Gummer, another veteran of the incident in Nevada, to supply the firepower. There is only one problem: The Graboids have now evolved to attack above ground.
For fans of sequels that don’t just retread the same steps and story beats from the original, “Aftershocks” takes great pains to avoid those pitfalls. Val is gone. Burt is now a divorcee with Heather also MIA. Rhonda and most of the surviving community from the first film are also not here. And to top it off, the Graboids have evolved. Now they have legs, are faster, and rely on different senses to garner their own prey. For a 1996 cable TV sequel, “Aftershocks” works just fine as a second chapter, pitting the focus more on Burt Gummer, and Earl Bassett. Earl is now strapped with a new partner in the form Grady Hoover, as played by Christopher Gartin.
Gartin is something of the pseudo-Val who is less a ladies man, and more a naïve sidekick to Earl. Earl is given a bigger role to play as well as his own love interest, to boot. Don’t be fooled, though “Aftershocks” is very much a “Tremors” movie that ventures in to expanding the Graboid monster species (now in a new variant known as “Shriekers”), as well as give the series’ reluctant heroes something to fight. Rather than jumping on rocks and avoiding the ground, now they have to face off against running monsters that can strategize and learn.
S.S. Wilson keeps “Aftershocks” constantly moving and in forward motion, relying a lot more on action and some solid laughs, as well as its own brand of suspense involving these new monsters. I’d be hard pressed to call it a masterpiece, but “Aftershocks” does bring in something new to the table, and if you’re willing to cope with Val, Rhonda, Hector, and Heather not being a part of this go around, you might just have fun.
Rest in peace, Fred Ward.
The New Limited Edition of “Tremors 2: Aftershocks” from Arrow Video comes crawling with special features, including an audio commentary with director/co-writer S.S. Wilson and co-producer Nancy Roberts, and a second audio commentary with Jonathan Melville, author of “Seeking Perfection: The Ultimate Guide to Tremors.” Graboid Go Boom is a nineteen minutes interview with special effects designer Peter Chesney, while the seven minutes Critical Need-to-Know Information includes an interview with CGI supervisor Phil Tippett. There’s also the vintage The Making of Tremors 2 at eight minutes, seven minutes of classic outtakes, the original trailers for “Tremors” and “Tremors 2,” and finally an Image Gallery.
As for physical attributes the Limited Edition packaging features original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Frank. There’s an Illustrated perfect bound booklet featuring new writing by Jonathan Melville on the Tremors 2 scripts that never got made, and Dave Wain & Matty Budrewicz on the history of Universal’s DTV sequel division. There’s also a Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Frank, and a small fold-out poster featuring new Shrieker X-ray art by Matt Frank.