Spanning 30 years, 7 movies, 3 centuries of setting, and 1 badass hero throughout, the Tremors franchise is one unlike any other. Part Western/Action, part B-Movie Monster Horror, it’s a series that’s never taken itself too seriously and always managed to be fun.
So with the release of Shrieker Island, which seems to be something of a finale for the franchise, we thought it would be both nostalgic and fun to look back on the series as a whole and rank every movie in it. So allows us to violently emerge from the ground with our rankings of the ever Tremors movie!
7. Tremors 3: Back to Perfection
Admittedly, the first sequel to Tremors was already direct-to-video, but Back to Perfection was the first one that felt that way. Unsure of where to take the series, they just sort of went back and tried to redo the first one again. It features a lot of the same characters and a lot of the same story beats as the original (minus Kevin Bacon of course).
This third installment is also infamous for introducing the third cycle in graboid reproduction, the ridiculously-named “Ass Blaster”, which is absurd enough that it kinda stops being funny. Either way, this isn’t a downright terrible movie, it’s just the least interesting and most cringe worthy.
6. Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell
After Bloodlines breathed new life into the franchise, took it in a new direction, and introduced Jamie Kennedy’s Travis as Burt Gummer’s estranged son, A Cold Day in Hell sort of just tried to do the same thing, but in the Canadian wilderness. Granted, it was a cool and unique idea to take the action somewhere covered in snow, but it doesn’t go as far as it could with this.
What could have been a fun mix of Tremors and The Thing, just sort of becomes the last movie again (partly because they shot in South Africa instead of Canada). It tries to have a nostalgic callback with the daughter of Kevin Bacon’s character, but all it does is remind us of how much we wish he would return to it (not counting the TV series that only got a pilot).
5. Tremors: Shrieker Island
The latest, and perhaps final installment of the Tremors franchise sees the most hermit version of Burt Gummer we’ve ever witness venturing to the South Pacific in a deadly game hunt with graboids. It’s sorely missing Jamie Kennedy, but somewhat makes up for it with the addition of Jon Heder and Richard Brake as the villain.
It’s well shot, and has some of the best CGI we’ve seen in the series (albeit not a very high bar). And of course (without getting into spoilers) it serves as a fitting finale to a series that’s spanned 30 years. Check out our full review of it here.
4. Tremors 5: Bloodlines
After going back in time, it was no easy feat to determine where Tremors should go next. The answer of course came in adopting a new “extreme action” style of shooting/editing, and giving Burt Gummer a foil to riff off it. That came in the form of Jamie Kennedy as Travis, and for the most part, it worked kind of brilliantly.
They have great chemistry, and the film itself was shot in a real wildlife reserve in South Africa, when garnered it a great deal of legitimacy. Coming out of nowhere, it proved that Tremors still had life left in it.
3. Tremors 2: Aftershocks
It would have been so easy for this to just be a tired retread of the first movie (that wouldn’t come until the third one), but instead it took an interesting look at how the fame following the first one affected those involved with it.
It also took Burt Gummer from a fun side character into more of a main status, where he would remain for every other movie. Between this dynamic, and the introduction of the shriekers, Aftershocks successfully upped the ante from the original and had enough new ideas that it stayed fresh.
The b-movie campy classic that started it all, Tremors came out at the absolute perfect time. It had all the cheesy fun of the 80’s with a callback to Westerns and Sci-Fi monster movies of the 50’s. Part of its immense charm is the humor and chemistry we get from a young Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward.
Even now, Bacon looks back and claims that Tremors was the most fun he ever had making a movie, and it really shows. The graboids themselves were brought to life with the best practical effects the franchise has seen since, and it still holds up today.
1. Tremors 4: The Legend Begins
In what is sure to be a controversial choice, we’re giving the number 1 spot to the incredibly divisive fourth installment, The Legend Begins. Following Back to Perfection, the series took an unexpected turn by going back to the 1800’s with a prequel of how the town of Perfection was founded, and the first time it dealt with graboids. The previous movies always had a fun Western motif, and setting this one in that time period allowed it to commit to the theme fully.
It’s also a lot of fun to see Michael Gross get out of the Burt Gummer comfort zone a little bit, by playing Gummer’s ancestor who Burt probably wouldn’t get along too much with. At the core of this Western/Action/Monster/Horror movie is a really inspiring story of a group of misfits and outcasts who come together to face this common threat and create a new home for themselves. They of course end up being ancestors of the characters we come to know and love in the other movies.
Which one is your favorite and least favorite? Let us know in the comments!