Movies

You Have to Rewind It (The St. Patty’s Day/Reese Witherspoon Edition): My Review of the 1996 Film ‘Tremors 2: Aftershocks’

Top of tha mornin’ to ya’, mee lads!

Yeah, I know what today is…but let’s keep a good thing going and not let Google Calendar stand in our way, diminishing the fact that ST. PATRICK’S DAY!!!!!!!! already happened.

That’s right, Suzy, St. Patrick’s Day. A day of consumption, where the a.m. is no different from the p.m. Where eggs and beer are advertised like Dr. Seuss rose from the dead and said, “The kids’ parents will love this version” So hip, so choice. Which reminds me, did you wear green? Because you  better have worn some form of the celebratory shade on your person, otherwise your ass probably got pinched—and I mean #Pinched.

Salute!

St. Patrick’s Day is a day of remembrance. A day when we look upon our other Irish brethren and collectively agree that we certainly have fought the good fight for centuries, rising from defeat and persecution at the hands of the…hell, I don’t know…the Druids?…and…well…then I guess we got into the worldwide creative-marketing game, with ventures like Lucky Charms, Irish Spring, and The Devil’s Own starring Irishmen Brad Pitt and doubly Irish Harrison Ford—true lad, right there, gang.

And yes, there’s Mount Rushmore:

Thus, we are all St. Patrick, and St. Patrick…is………………………………………us……

?

?

?

Whatever.

The real point here is that this year’s St. Patty’s day came with an interesting twist, one that led me down a path of Sequel Mania that I didn’t think was possible.

It stated with a simple question.

While walking to get several cans of Guinness and a dish that was 95 percent potatoes, I ran into another Irish lad—amazingly, this guy seemed to be REALLY Irish, accent and all the suchlike. We stopped and chatted for a bit, the general St. Patrick’s Day gabbing. We talked of Clair Forlani and that time Willow played a pissed-off Leprechaun in the aptly named horror flick, The Leprechaun. It was good times. Fun times.  And since we were becoming so comfortable as Irish brothers, I decided to ask for his thoughts about celebrating the wonderful holiday in ‘Murica.

Suddenly though, his smile and energy dissipated to a frown…suddenly, I was Courtney Love. An outcast. I was the family pet that just shit on the neighbor’s rug during the first visit. My new friend seemed distant, like we were not brothers at all, so I rephrased my question (without understanding this sad face on a day loaded with…well, just loaded).

“Do you not—do you not like celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in ‘Murica?” I asked.

He took a step back and gazed to the heavens, waiting at least 10 minutes before refocusing his thoughtful glare back on me. His eyelids quivered a bit and he exhaled slowly (through the nostrils, so Irish!!) and then he moved closer. He didn’t make a sound. He just stood there, for another ten minutes, staring at me.

At one point, I thought I heard a voice in the distance, past the bus stop, singing Paddy’s Lamentation, but couldn’t quite place it. (Looking back, it might have just been the whistling from the guy flipping the arrow-like sign that read “Get Waxed!”.)

Regardless, the stare-down continued.  Twenty minutes had passed and nothing, silence, the suspense was real.

Finally, he spoke:

“Let me ask you,” he said in a professor-esque tone, “was it really necessary to make a sequel to the movie Tremors?”

Um, excuse me?

SAY WHAAAAAAAAAAAA!?!?!?!

The question hit me like a pot of gold. It was like rediscovering that Santa Claus wasn’t real or that Milli Vanilli was just fucking with us…

Then—right when I needed my new Irish friend the most—he smiled, well aware that he just answered my question with another question, and walked away.

Huh?

As you could imagine, I was speechless. The questions swirled around in my head, each of them as unanswerable as the next. Was this the Irish Aristotle? Did he work for Tesla? Facebook? IHOP? Should I have taken a selfie with him, posting it with #IrishBillGates?

I mean, if this guy and George Clooney ever get together then look the fuck out!!

I was mesmerized!

And then, it hit me. It was a brief, flashing moment of brilliance, when all matter perpetually stood still…

…WAS it necessary to make a sequel to Tremors?

Seriously.

At the end of the day, all bullshit aside, did we really need THAT film?

I needed to know, almost like some inner-Tom Hanks took control of me and I instantly became a seeker of hidden truth. In fact, never before had I needed to find the answer to something so useless…in the name of usefulness.

The question weighed on me like a symbolical Graboid, oddly enough, and that simply meant there was only one thing left to do. And yes, you’re damn right I did exactly what you can’t believe I actually went and did.

With that, in the name of all that is Irish, I give you  my review of the 1996 action/thriller Tremors 2: Aftershocks.

Enjoy!

The Plot

Well, it looks like those goddamn pesky Graboids are still infesting the earth and killing people for carefree enjoyment and food. And worse yet, they have taken a page out of the Gremlins script and decided to multiply.(Fucking worms!) What started out as three in the original Tremors has since escalated to countless numbers, probably in the thousands-upon-thousands arena, which makes it difficult to enjoy quiet walks and sunbathing in open fields.

Oh yeah, in case you are unfamiliar with Graboids:

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Basically Jabba the Hutt’s more mobile, ancient ancestor, these worms are a pain in the ass…especially to one specific Mexican oil refinery. No bueno, Holmes. No bueno.

Luckily, Ol’ Fred Ward has a business plan, sort of an odd twist on fishing, where the bait becomes the catch: Because these Graboids hunt by sound—a la the Great White that hated Roy Scheider in Jaws II—Fred and his new sidekick (more on this situation in a bit) employ remote-controlled cars, trucks, tanks, whatever, with dynamite stuck to them. When the Graboids hear said cars, trucks, tanks, whatever, they swoop up from the ground and swallow the damn things whole.

Then WAH-BAM! It’s raining meat.

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It’s Meals on Wheels meets Sandra Bullock driving a bus and I fucking love it!  Quite simply, it’s quintessential mid-1990s as it’s best, folks.

So strap in!!!

Pink Elephant in the Room

Kevin Bacon is not in this second installment, and that’s a major bummer. No degrees of Kevin Bacon is an unholy straight line, and quite frankly, not the cinematic world I want to live in. But the absence makes sense: They shot him in Sleepers for touching Jason Patric.

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“Ouch!” — Kevin Bacon in 1996

Grady is Your New Kevin Bacon

So Fred Ward is super popular because of the first film—plus the fact he was Remo Williams didn’t hurt—and a fan of his work with worms decides to join forces. His name is Grady. Grady is the young energy to Fred Ward’s sore ass and the two make quite the pair—sorry, Kevin Bacon. Grady is greedy and, most amazingly, still works as an actor. (That is something 99 percent of Tremors 2 cast can not claim.)

Here is the trailer of his most recent think piece, Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?

Truthfully, I was hoping Grady would get eaten by one of the Graboids—a got-ya! surprise like when Egg Shen got eaten in the first flick—but to no avail. Grady lives, hence the 2016 trailer.

Intermission: Here is Egg Shen (Big Trouble in Little China) Getting Eaten by a Graboid:

That sucks.

Things…Escalate

It’s a worm farm out there, gang, and Grady and Fred Ward can’t handle all of them. They need backup. Stat! They need a real asshole, someone who can really bring the thunder, the BOOM! Someone with a mustache. Someone who has played Reba McEntire’s husband in a film and lived to make the sequel—and the 73 installments after that…

Least Favorite Character

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They found him…unfortunately.

So Burt, who was Reba McEntire’s husband in the fist flick, comes back in the second—with all his fire power, of course, and his meme-worthy dialogue. He and Grady don’t get along (yawn) and he is hard-up because Reba left him for cable (no pun).

I found him to be boring the way Donald Sutherland found Milton to be boring in Animal House. Mrs. Milton found him boring, too, if you remember.

(Takes a bite of an apple, stares into nothingness)

For years I liked Burt’s character, too, but that’s because I thought he was MLB pitching coach, Mike Maddux.

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Steeerrr-ikkkkee!!!

New Form of a Graboid or a Case of the Taco Bells?

That was the question I asked myself while one worm was stuck in a hole, tossing and moaning like it just ate a fully loaded asada burrito. Fred Ward and Grady assumed it was preggers.

I wasn’t certain…

Spoiler Alert

The worm explodes—and it wasn’t because of the Taco Bell it ate.

Favorite Character

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Helen Shaver was perfect. Strapped with a degree in seismology, this gal is not willing to take any shenanigans from those damn worms—even after her colleague was eaten!

She is strong, she is woman…she has no issue about wearing her watch in between two wristbands. Zero fucks.

(And she is taller than Fred Ward, sort of a Tom Cruise-Niclole Kidman thing.)

Go girl!!

And Here Comes that Little Whore Known as “Evolving”

So the thing in the Graboid’s stomach was a new breed of monstrosity—again, it was NOT Taco Bell.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you…the Shrieker:

(Reread that, otherwise you’ll be confused that the below image isn’t a naked college kid running down the lawn.)

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As you can see, this version comes with feet and other bells/whistles, and it dwells above ground. (So long, remote-controlled explosive plan.) It’s as blind as a bat, though, which always reminds me of this scene from Moving Violations:

Anyway, the Shriekers are troublesome and they eat all of Burt’s MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) but not Burt, which sucks.

Even Aunt Bethany Would Have Told Them to Shut the Fuck Up

When a Shrieker spots something, as their name suggests, they make a loud shrieking sound. Two times during said shrieking I attempted to throw my TV out the window, hoping to make it stop. Yeesh!

This is a classic 1980s hang-on, though—where being loud makes up for everything else—and really was prime territory for the director to inter-cut some of the shrieking with this:

A 90s Lesson in Handling Pressure

Stay cool and clam, because the Shriekers use heat detection.

Need to Slay the Beast? Always Look to the Movies Predator and Body Heat

This wasn’t the first time actors spent the film being terrorized by something that hunted by heat detection. What started with Kathleen Turner in Body Heat and her primal desires for car salesman, eventually found its way to the lovable Austrian, ex-Cali governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was in his fabled culture piece, Predator, that Arnie was up against a heat-seeking Jamaican in an alien costume. And, to save the world (again), governor Schwarzenegger employed the use of pond mud to mask his body heat—Kathleen Turner used ice in a similar situation with William Hurt.

Combine the two and we arrive back at Fred Ward and the Shriekers.

I Thought of Freddie Prize Jr.

That lovable 90s S.O.B. always finds a way to creep into the conversation—even if it’s only in my head—and though Kevin Bacon was not in this film, it didn’t mean that degrees of separation weren’t at play.

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As it goes…

Fred Ward’s career is long and distinguished—like that guy’s johnson in Top Gun—which mean he has worked with practically all of IMDB.

And if you follow the trail of movie popcorn long enough, you’ll eventually find yourself staring down the barrel of a baseball bat while Freddie Prinze Jr. is pitching. Yes, that’s right: Summer Catch.

What a terrible film.

But!! Fred Ward plays Freddie’s dad, and the entire time he is toying with these worms and Shriekers and whatever, I kept waiting for him to stop and say, “Gotta mow your lawns.”

Moving on!

The Ending: I Saw Green

You just never really know what to expect with these “Tremor” movies. If the Shriekers decided to have a gang-bang and create a whole new litter of somethings—the NEXT breed that would be able to fly!—I wouldn’t have been surprised.

And, of course, that made me think of this gem:

But…I’m pretty sure R. Kelley isn’t Irish, either.

In fact, none of the cast members were Irish. The Graboids seemed more like they were from Wisconsin or something past Quebec City, definitely not Irish. And admittedly, I was nervous, because the movie was practically over and I hadn’t figured out why my new Irish friend guided me to watch it.

And then, it happened!

Down but not out, Fred Ward and the crew decided the only way to stop this new breed was to lure them into a shed, set whatever explosives that were left in Burt’s truck, and push THE DAMN BUTTON.

And holy shit, did they use a shit-ton of explosives.

Yep, you could say…they overdid it.

(And then light shed through the cosmos and Yoda—who is GREEN—spoke wisdom)

So…Cheers, mysterious Irish friend! Cheers, Irish Reese Witherspoon!

I get it now.

It’s good to be Irish.

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