Tremors 4: The Legend Begins

Directed by S.S. Wilson. Starring Michael Gross. Made 2004.


1990's Tremors was a great combination of camp, romance and Americana. My first VHS was watched so many times that it stopped being able to play color (not sure exactly what caused that, but I am guessing that our old over-heating VCR warped the tape just enough). I now have it on DVD. I recently showed my wife, and realized two things. It is still a moderately good blend of camp, romance and Americana; but has aged slightly. Kevin Bacon's cowboy appeals less to me than he used to, the "romance" that used to set my young male hear aflutter (as much as young male hearts flutter, ever) now feels more like scripted convenience, and most of the deaths are a little too telegraphed to be 100% effective; but I can appreciate the movie for being one of those oddities that "horror"/sci-fi entries can accomplish better than any other, a movie that stands well on its own merits while gently poking fun of its own merits. Tremors helped make Eight Legged Freaks and Slither possible. For that it has earned my respects.

Since the Kevin Bacon character, as well as the romance he gets in, was about 1/2 my total enjoyment factor (I was a lonely 14 year old geek boy, ok?); I wrote off the second movie (and failed to notice a third showing up). After the fact, I watched them in bits and pieces, but never quite got into them. I plan on rectifying that, soon, though and giving them another try now that I have let the first one go.

But, first, I went with the prequel, "The Legend Begins" (T4:tLB). T4 stars Michael Gross as, well, not Burt. The year is 1889, 100 years before the first movie. The town is Rejection. Gross is Burt's forefather: Hiram. He is a saggy, soft businessman with no connection to the wild west besides a mine that his father invested in.

Now, from the point his character is introduced, the general plot is as follows: Hiram becomes Burt, kills some underground devils with guns, and changes the town name to Perfection. That might have spoiled some things for you, but I hope not. You should have seen it coming. There is a store owned by the Chang family and a strong red haired woman. There is even an "Old Fred" for crying out loud. If you did not see it coming, then I do not know what to tell you.

If you like the old west style setting, especially the "Hollywood-ized" version of it, then that is a plus for this movie. If you like Michael Gross, but want to see him play a different character, then, well, here you go.

Do not take my above sentence as being complaint or sarcasm, I am serious. Most everything about this movie is pleasant enough, and light enough, to be no bother. The only real problem I have with it is its lack of internal logic in some scenes. The monsters play by whatever rules they need to, scene from scene, including making some fairly accurate pinpoint attacks on things that do not make sound. As well a silver tea pot that is whistles after being used on a camp fire. That has nothing to do with the monsters, I am just saying.

A lesser problem is the Billy Drago character -- Black Hand Kelly. He starts out as a real Old West badass, and then is slowly but surely broken down to something out of City Slickers. This movie could have used a character in it for himself, a little bit grittier.

Monster effects are back to mechanical things, which works for the most part. Acting, luckily, is not too mechanical, which is a bad joke on my part and I apologize for that. The pacing and introduction of the monsters was a delicate situation. You can't "reintroduce" them since they have already been well established and it would be too old hat. You can't not "introduce" them because people like to talk out stuff like giant, underground "dragons" eating folk. All three aspects (effects, acting, story) are handled adequately enough to make the movie enjoyable. But, and there is no pun intended, it forces the movie into a direct comparison with its more ground breaking predecessor. This is Tremors, with toned down acting, more predictable action, and with less explanation. If you have seen the first one a bunch of times, maybe worn out the VHS, and really liked it and want more of it; then get this one. If, however, you only kind of like the first one, or haven't seen the first one, and aren't a fan of the faux-cowboy genre, then skip this one for the first one. The balance of camp works here, for instance, but worked just as well or better in the first one. The slight romance works here, but...and so on.

I'll let it be your call if you want to see this one.

Written by W Doug Bolden

For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".

"The hidden is greater than the seen."