Tremors 2: Aftershocks

1996, Movie, PG-13, 99 mins

Review

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This movie is a rarity among direct-to-video sequels, one that's not only worthy of its theatrical predecessor but suggests that it, too, belongs on the big screen.

When "graboids"--giant, carnivorous underground worms--threaten the Mexican Petromaya oil refinery, its owners call on Earl Bassett (Fred Ward), who once helped defeat a quartet of the creatures. Having squandered his resulting celebrity status, Earl is convinced by the $50,000-a-head bounty offered, as well as the enthusiasm of young admirer Grady (Christopher Gartin), who becomes his partner. At Petromaya, the duo meets geologist Kate (Helen Shaver) and begin worm hunting, tricking the creatures into swallowing bomb-rigged, remote-controlled cars. When they find they're facing more monsters than expected, Earl calls on his old friend Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), a survivalist who arrives well-stocked with armaments.

It's not long, however, before Earl and Grady discover a dead, hollowed-out graboid and find that it has birthed human-sized, two-legged offspring that chase their prey on land. A swarm of these monsters soon has Earl, Grady, Burt and Kate trapped in the refinery, thwarting all of their efforts to escape. Ultimately, they succeed in confining the horde to one of the buildings, and using Burt's explosives, they blow the creatures to kingdom come.

One of the nice things about TREMORS 2 is the way it knowingly and logically follows up on the first movie's events. Acknowledging the media attention that would no doubt follow a real-life creature encounter, the sequel finds Earl sharing his trailer with a "Graboid" video game and having done a Reebok commercial with fellow monster-killer Val (absent here, as actor Kevin Bacon declined to return). And when he returns to worm-hunting duty, Earl learns from prior events and employs the much safer remote-controlled-car ploy. Given this, it's all the more fun when he and his cohorts are confronted with a new, even more lethal menace, with the last half of the movie finding the humans and the newfangled monsters taking turns outwitting each other.

First-time director S.S. Wilson (who wrote both the original TREMORS and this sequel with Brent Maddock) ably replicates the tense-funny tone of the first film, and indeed, only the familiarity of the basic story and approach takes some of the edge off this follow-up. As before, however, the actors are most engaging, with Ward taking full advantage of the opportunity to take center stage. Despite the significantly lower budget, the monsters remain entirely convincing, with the two-legged creatures represented by a mix of effective full-scale props and computer-generated images (supervised by JURASSIC PARK's Phil Tippett) that are easily the equal of work seen in much bigger theatrical features. (Violence, profanity.) leave a comment

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