Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015) - the Graboids are Back!!
Tremors 5: Bloodlines
Directed by: Don Michael Paul
Starring: Michael Gross, Jamie Kennedy, Ian Roberts, Pearl Thusi, Natalie Becker
Those massive, man-eating underground mutants known as Graboids are back for another snack in Tremors 5: Bloodlines, and as usual, the only man who can put a stop to the subterranean creepy crawlies' shenanigans is uber-survivalist Burt Gummer (Michael Gross)...who's never met a Graboid he couldn't kill!
The fifth installment of this tongue-in-cheek sci-fi/horror saga - which was released direct-to-video by Universal Studios Home Entertainment in October 2015 - takes the action to South Africa, where a Graboid has been sighted at a wildlife preserve. When you've got a Graboid problem, who you gonna call? The legendary Burt Gummer of course, expert Graboid hunter and all around American bad-ass, who's now the host of a survivalist-themed TV reality show. Jamie Kennedy, best known for his appearances in the Scream film series and TV's "Ghost Whisperer," is Burt's camera man and budding brand-expansion specialist who comes along for the ride to offer Burt tactical support and provide some comic relief. While on this African holiday, Burt will - as the characters do in every new Tremors installment - witness the next phase of the always-unpredictable Graboids' ever-changing evolution. Let's just say that when a character tells Burt "Everything's bigger in Africa," he isn't kidding.
Tremors 5: Bloodlines was filmed on location in South Africa and was directed by Don Michael Paul. Michael "Burt Gummer" Gross is the only cast member from the original 1989 film who has since appeared in all of the films in the franchise. Has it really been 25 years since the first Tremors flick chewed its way out of the ground into multiplexes - and the hearts of millions of monster fans?
Evolution of the Graboids
In the original Tremors, the leading men were Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon, who played "Earl" and "Val," - a pair of good-natured doofuses who worked as handy men around the tiny desert town of Perfection, Nevada. When their neighbors begin mysteriously disappearing, the pair soon learn that the culprits are gigantic, monstrous worms which they dub "Graboids." Val and Earl band together with local survivalist Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) and his wife Heather (country music superstar Reba McEntire, in her acting debut), to kill the critters before the town is destroyed from below! Tremors was a modest box office hit when it was released in early 1990 and Universal Studios soon green-lit the first in what would become a series of direct-to-video sequels.
Exit Bacon, Enter Burt
Kevin Bacon and Reba McEntire had moved on by the time Tremors 2: Aftershocks arrived in 1996, but Fred Ward's "Earl" and Michael Gross' "Burt" were ready to answer the call when a Graboid infestation is discovered at a Mexican oil refinery. In addition to battling several of the giant worms seen in the first film, Aftershocks also reveals the next stage of Graboid evolution. Earl and Burt discover that the creatures have spawned a new sub-species that have feet and can walk on land - which they name "Shriekers" due to the piercing screaming sounds they make. At the end of the film Earl settles down with his dream girl, and thus the mantle of Head Graboid Destroyer is handed down to ... (who else?) Burt Gummer!
Give'em Hell, Burt!!
Burt took his rightful place in the spotlight as the leading man in Tremors 3: Back To Perfection, released in 2001. In this installment Burt has become a successful Graboid-hunter-for-hire whose services are in demand all over the world. When he returns to his home town after a lengthy excursion to Argentina, he is dismayed to see that the residents of Perfection have turned their infamy as "Home of the Graboids" into a tourist attraction. Even worse, the U.S. government has stepped in to tell Burt that he can no longer hunt a local albino Graboid known as "El Blanco," since he is considered the last surviving example of an endangered species. (D'oh!!) All of that changes when yet another new Graboid sub-species appears - a flying, egg laying variant which the characters dub "Ass-Blasters" due to their combustible method of propulsion. (In other words: they are able to fly by farting explosively. My sons found this absolutely hilarious and immediately declared that Tremors 3 was the best movie ever.)
In 2003, Tremors was adapted as a weekly TV series for the Sci-Fi Channel (now known as SyFy), which was canceled after one season. Michael Gross appeared as Burt Gummer in all 13 episodes of the series, which revolved around the town of Perfection and Burt's strained relationship with its resident protected Graboid, "El Blanco.".
When the film series resumed in 2004 with Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, we are taken back to the days of the Old West. The small desert town that will one day become Perfection, Nevada is known as "Rejection" here, and it's home to a large silver mine that has been suddenly plagued by a series of worker deaths. Michael Gross stars as Burt Gummer's great-grandfather Hiram Gummer, who in a neat twist is a wealthy, prissy tenderfoot from the big city, who comes to town to get to the bottom of the mystery. Naturally, Hiram soon realizes he's in WAY over his head when he and the townspeople encounter the so-called "Dirt Dragons" for the first time ever. Over the course of his battle with the creatures, Hiram toughens up and also learns a thing or two about high-caliber weaponry - a trait that will be passed down to future generations of Gummers.
"Tremors: The Series" Promo
Bring on "Bloodlines!"
As a side note, I've found that the films in the Tremors series are good "starter" films for kids who are curious about horror/monster movies. My sons (who are 8 and 12 as I write this) have seen all four of the preceding films and are stoked about "5" coming to Netflix next week. The Tremors flicks are ideal because there's just enough monster action and goop/slime in each installment to make kids go "Eeewwwww!" and cringe a little, but the violence is never hardcore enough to freak them out or cause nightmares. The fact that the films are done in a semi-cartoony, tongue-in-cheek style helps a lot.
A quarter century ago I sat in a theater and laughed all the way through the original Tremors, so of course I had it marked on my calendar when Tremors 5: Bloodlines hit Netflix on October 6, 2015 - just in time to kick off my Halloween season with some primo monster mashing action. Tremors 5: Bloodlines is available via DVD, Blu-Ray and on all major digital streaming platforms. Give those Graboids hell, Burt!
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