Tremors 4: The Legend begins, which is set in 1899 and still manages to star franchise stalwart Michael Gross as an ancestor of NRA loving Burt, is better than you’d expect from the third in a sporadic trickle of straight-to-DVD sequels. Take this not as a sound endorsement, rather as a consolation endorsement. If after reading that sentence one is still unsure whether or not to brave 101 minutes of a low budget 19th century Tremors, then glide them eyes from left to right across this inspired line of dialog:
“I feel I’ve not been privy to critical, most needful information.”
If the significance of that line is lost on you, Tremors 4 is the lost cause you’d think it to be. If, however, you cracked a laugh, Tremors 4 is no longer lost, but it is still without cause. That is the most subtle of throwbacks the filmmakers have to offer, but hey, they at least thought of that one, right? Gold stars all around.
Nearly 100 years before Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward were making heel out of the town of Perfection, existed the mining town of Rejection, a locational name change that never makes sense past the obvious, but also never funny, polar nature of the two. Hiram Gummer (Michael Gross, of course) arrives via coach after news the ore has ceased being extracted from his recently inherited mine. The town, once up and coming, has ground to a halt with news that people are disappearing inside the shafts. What happens next is as obvious as gravity. But, if you come in expecting a new stage in grabboid evolution, prepare for dissapointment. They’re the same old fatties under ground as the original frilm, though in their early ‘hatched’ stage they do leap out of the ground and knock folk about.
More bewildering than a Tremors film set in 1899 is how the group behind the latest outing convinced the KNB Effects Group to take on the gig. Around the time this went into production, KNB, who constantly sets the bar the world over for physical effects work, would have just been starting “Deadwood” after wrapping up everything from Cabin Fever to Minority Report to Kill Bill. I’m not sure whom this is a testament to; producers who can talk a helluva game, or just how generous KNB can be. Whatever the case, the result is the strongest point of Tremors 4. Though every single department saw budget constraints, the effects suffer least of all. It may take a while for a graboid to show itself, but they do and they look just as great as they did the first time out.
Does Tremors 4: The Legend Begins need to exist? No. Is it a tragedy that it does exist? No. It has the same formula with enough modular variables that wink at franchise fans (the arch of Burt’s ancestor and his relationship with firearms, for one) and commendable effects-on-a-budget to be mildly stimulating. But the more I think about it Tremors 4 is eerily akin to congratulating a friend for driving home drunk and not getting pulled over. They had no business on the road, and in doing so were putting way more on the line that was worth it, but you saw the state of things before they took off and can’t hide being impressed that they made it all the way home without brain damage.