About 8 months ago I introduced a friend of mine to the glory that is Tremors starring Kevin Bacon. It’s a film I’ve loved since I was a kid. Kevin Bacon didn’t star in the sequels. I’m not a fan of the sequels. So much so I never bothered watching the prequel Tremors 4 the Legend Begins. That was until a few days ago when the same friend of mine revealed that she had a copy and I’m gonna pretend she forced me to watch it. To be fair this prequel isn’t entirely bad though. So how entirely not bad is it? Click the link to find out!!!
Despite being film number four this Tremors is set some 100 years before the original film. Why prequels always happen a round number of years before the original I’ll never understand. What this means though is that we’re in the wild west and the setting is the town of Rejection, a town that went on to be called Perfection by the time the events of the first film roll around. The story starts with the bizarre deaths of 17 miners in a silver mine, the only survivor being a miner called Juan Pedilla (Brent Roam). Back in the town of Rejection he tries to explain what happened in the mine but seeing as he’s not entirely sure the townsfolk aren’t too keen on believing him. When the mines owner comes to town to find out just why his mine isn’t making money any more the ensuing investigation reveals what monstrous beings were really behind the deaths.
The owner of the mine is one Hiram Gummer who, as the name suggests, is the descendant of Burt Gummer from the other films in the series. Naturally Hiram is played by Michael Gross who played Burt. Thankfully for the purposes of telling a story Hiram is not the same character as Burt at all. He’s a well to do apparent philanthropist who doesn’t like getting his hands dirty at all. That includes firing guns. By his logic if he wants a gun fired he’ll hire someone to do it. And so he does, in this case hiring a gunslinger called Black Hand Kelly (Billy Drago) who’s very much in the mould of shifty chaotic cowboy you’d see in the more grittier of Westerns. I’d hesitate to say he’s like an Eastwood gunslinger though as he talks way too much. Over the course of the film Hiram must learn to use a gun which sets off his family’s love of weaponry as seen in the other films.
Tremors 4 is a film that, unlike the worm like creatures of the feature, is without teeth. It manages to handle a story at a competent level but fails to provide the sort of horror or comedy the original Kevin Bacon film had. Apart from one kill at the start when people die they do so without a single drop of blood being spilled. Even when a pair of Graboids (that’s what the worm creatures are called) have a man held down by an arm and a leg each they seem polite enough to stop short of biting down. We see a decapitated head briefly but again there’s no flowing blood. Not that I’m blood thirsty but if you’re gonna have creatures with giant jaws chowing down on people you expect a little of the claret to flow. The whole film has a decided toned down feel to it.
Horror comedies rely on two obvious elements in order for them to work. The horror and the comedy need to be balanced at appropriate extremes too. The funnier the film is the more violent the horror must be. Tremors 4 isn’t funny at any moment and in this respect it’s horror is balanced just right. Just right for bland that is. The second and third films in the series were painfully unfunny but they had the odd moment of horror. That said they Tremors 4 is a better film by virtue of the fact that it actually has a character with an arc and manages to avoid getting too silly. No flying Graboids here.
Overall Tremors 4 is one of those films that’s just a bit too average in it’s execution to be worth recommending. It’s the second best in a series that only has 1 actual good film. Oh and an awful TV series but it’s best we don’t mention that. What does help it is seeing the location of the first film and it’s inhabitants who include ancestors of Walter Chang from the first film. I question why any Chinese people would have moved to the US in 1889 to set up a shop in the middle of nowhere but it’s a nice little nod to Victor Wong’s character in Tremors to have the roots of his family here. Basically, watch the first film and pretend the others don’t exist. If you really must though just watch this one because at least it isn’t entirely stupid. Well apart from when Juan kills a small Graboid and doesn’t bring the corpse back with him as proof. Which is then missing later with no explanation. That was stupid.