Universal // 2001 // 104 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 5th, 2001
The food chain just grew another link.
A cult classic of gigantic proportions, the original Tremors went on to become a sleeper hit on video for audiences in love with science fiction B-movies from yesteryear. With a funny script and some exciting visual effects and monsters, Tremors remains as fun as it was a decade ago. [Editor's Note: And don't forget the awesome drawing power of Kevin Bacon.] Years later Universal would produce a direct-to-video sequel aptly titled Tremors 2: Aftershocks featuring original cast members Michael Gross (Family Ties) and Fred Ward (The Player). In 2001, Universal released a second sequel to the popular series, Tremors 3: Back To Perfection. Starring returning player Michael Gross as the ammunition nut Burt Gummer, Tremors 3: Back To Perfection burrows its way onto DVD.
The small town of Perfection, Nevada will never be the same after a second confrontation with the hungry Graboids! Eleven years have passed since Perfection was under siege by the enormous worms, and in that time Burt Gummer (Gross) has made sure to make his house-of-artillery permanently Graboid proof. The local yokels in Perfection have been profiting from the creatures, including a spicy store owner (Susan Chuang) and a thrill seeker (Shawn Christian) who are both living and breathing the Graboid name. Everything is going well (or, as well as it can go in a small dessert town)...that is, until the Graboids show up once more to make a buffet out of the residents of Perfection! This time things have changed...the worms no longer hunt under the ground or on the land. Instead they've morphed into "ass blasters," bombarding creatures that are now able to fly! With their quaint town once again under attack, the residents have no choice but to fight back...or become the Graboids' next meal!
The original Tremors is one of those movies that holds a special place in my heart. I, of course, am a huge fan of all things horror and cheese. Throw in some B-movie elements and I think you've got the perfect movie. Tremors was able to incorporate a lot of wit, horror, and fun into just a few hours of entertainment. Considering all the movies that are collecting dust on video shelves these days, this is no small feat. A few years later, the sequel Tremors 2: Aftershocks would show up with lesser results. While the film was certainly entertaining, there was a spark that was sorely missing. Maybe it was the fact that Kevin Bacon wasn't around. Or maybe it was just that the originality had somehow worn off. Either way, it wasn't as good as the first film (though it was much more exciting than such big budget sequels as The Mummy Returns or Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace).
I'm sad to report that Tremors 3: Back To Perfection continues a downward spiral that was started with the first sequel. I was genuinely excited to watch this movie seeing as I loved the first movie, and while not completely satisfied I enjoyed the sequel as well. Unfortunately, this series has grown old and tired and should now be put to rest. This is not to say that Tremors 3: Back To Perfection is a bad movie -- in fact, while it isn't great, I still had a somewhat enjoyable time watching this sequel.
Tremors 3: Back To Perfection does have some good things going for it. As always, Michael Gross is a fun guy to watch. Fans of the 1980s TV series Family Ties will recognize him as family patriarch Steven Keaton. In the Tremors series, Gross plays a much different character in Burt Gummer, a gun-toting, war loving fop who desires nothing more in life than to survive the next nuclear attack. Gross shows expertise in disgruntled facial expressions and funny dialogue delivery that makes him rise above any material that is below him. While the rest of the cast may not be as colorful, they certainly are interesting. Comedienne Susan Chuang shows promise but doesn't deliver with her very thin character. Shawn Christian is sort of like a poor man's Brad Pitt, a guy who is ready and willing to get into any danger for the promise of the almighty dollar. Returning series member Ariana Richards (Mindy) is usually nothing more than a pretty face, her character also wasted in most scenes she's in. All actors do a commendable job, but the script just doesn't pull them through.
In the ever changing times of animation and effects, you'd think that Tremors 3: Back To Perfection would look better than the original film...or so one might think. The fact is that Tremors 3: Back To Perfection looks under par for what an effects movie made in 2001 should be. In the first film, the creators solely relied on real puppets and effects to create the dreaded Graboids look. In Tremors 2: Aftershocks, the creatures looked realistic via computers when they had to run on the ground, but those effects were thankfully kept to a minimum. This time around the filmmakers use computers even for the underground creatures, robbing the audience of any reality that was displayed in the first film. Much like the new Star Wars movie (and countless other films of today), Tremors 3: Back To Perfection is just another example of why puppets and real life effects work better than ones done on an IBM. (Need an example? Rent Return Of The Jedi to see what I mean).
The story this time around is also much weaker and less exciting (written by creators Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson). While it is fun to see a few of the original characters back in Tremors 3: Back To Perfection, wouldn't it have been a bit more exciting to have the Graboids pop up someplace new, such as Wisconsin or maybe Canada? Why must they be localized to just Nevada? If (and let's hope not) a third sequel is created, maybe the writers will scrap the townsfolk of Perfection for a much more interesting and different setting. Otherwise, this series needs to be fed to the worms.
Tremors 3: Back To Perfection is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks above average with only slight imperfections. While colors and black levels were all even, overall the picture tended to have a slightly muted look to it. Some grain and dirt was spotted, though the image was usually clean of any major defects or abrasions. Though this is not a reference quality disc, it isn't bad for a straight-to-video title.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is wading in the shallow end of the 5.1 mixing pool. There were spots where sound effects and music kicked in on all six speakers, but his was rare with the majority of the dialogue sounding very low and soft. Seeing as this is a new release I was expecting a lot more out of this track. Also included on this disc are English captions and French subtitles.
Being as Tremors 3: Back To Perfection is a smaller budgeted title, it's not surprising to find it very low on substantial supplemental materials. Included on this disc is a short "Spotlight On Location" featurette that includes interviews with cast and crew, some thin production notes, three theatrical trailers (Tremors, Tremors 2: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back To Perfection), and some information on the cast and filmmakers.
While this title is worth a rental, I really don't think you should make a purchase until you've seen the flick. It may be tempting to pick up Tremors 3: Back To Perfection if you're a fan of the series, but the fact is that you may be sorely disappointed at this third installment in the horror/comedy franchise. Easily considered mindless entertainment, Tremors 3: Back To Perfection could have used to a trip back to the editing room (and a little less CGI).
I'm letting Tremors 3: Back To Perfection go free on probation and I'm hoping this is the last of its kind we see around here.
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailers
* Production Notes
* "Spotlight On Location"
* Cast and Filmmakers Information