Survivalist Burt Gummer returns for another battle with the Graboids. However this time he’s a long way from home.
The original ‘Tremors’ was a film I fell in love with after catching it late one night on television. It was also my very first DVD purchase (along with ‘Blade’) which I imported from the United States.
The story was very simple. Large underground worms are attacking the people of a small town of Perfection in Nevada. Two local handymen, Val and Earl, become unlikely heroes and end up saving the day.
The film was very much in the style of the 1950’s giant monster movies and contained the right mix of horror and comedy. Despite not being a success at the US box office, the film found its audience on home video.
In the 1990’s Universal Studios set up a new department for creating lower budget original content that would bypass a theatrical release and head straight for video. A Tremors sequel was high on their list of ideas.
The Tremors franchise continued with three more films with the last in the series, ‘Tremors 4: The Legend Begins’ acting as a prequel to the original film.
With each new chapter in the series, the number of returning cast members grew smaller but one constant has always remained the same, the self-proclaimed Graboid expert and survivalist, Burt Gummer.
So it was with great surprise that I discovered that after a gap of just over ten years, Universal was returning with another entry of the franchise with ‘Tremors 5: Bloodlines’.
The film opens with two characters in the South African plains. One of them slips into a deep cave and before he can be rescued he is attacked and killed by an unseen fast and deadly predator.
Meanwhile Burt Gummer is making short films for the internet. He promotes both his survival skills and a new range of survival food. The film also shoehorns in a quick guide to the life cycle of the graboid worm (Worms to Graboids and then finally Ass Blasters).
Any Tremors fan will be well aware of this life cycle but I guess this is for the newcomers watching for the first time. But who starts watching a film series at number five?
Whilst filming, a trail bike rider interrupts the proceedings and he introduces himself as Travis, the new cameraman. Burt is unhappy with the situation but before anything can be done about it another visitor turns up.
He introduces himself as Erich Van Wyck from the South African Wildlife Ministry. They have a confirmed Ass Blaster sighting and would like Burt to come and kill the creature.
Travis forces the man to make a deal that will pay big bucks and take himself along for the adventure as well. The two of them travel to South Africa but what Burt will discover is that this is no ordinary Graboid attack. In South Africa, everything is bigger.
As I already stated at the beginning of the review, I’m a long term fan of the ‘Tremors’ franchise. The first sequel stands up very well to the original but the quality starts to drop for the following two sequels. Don’t get me wrong though, they’re still very enjoyable and further expand on the Tremors mythology.
‘Tremors 5: Bloodlines’ does offer a couple of new twists into this mythology or there would be no reason another film. If you don’t want to know the twist, then skip the next paragraph.
[SPOILER – Highlight to read]
The new breed of South African Ass Blasters are now a lot more fierce than previously seen. The Graboid worm is faster, sleeker and has the ability to jump out of the ground to attack its prey. Almost as if it was a literal land shark (The original films working title).
The Graboid worm contains within its mouth three tentacles/tongues each with a teeth filled jaw at the end. The new South African version can detach these tentacles which now act like vicious evil snakes.
Unfortunately these new twists cannot save Tremors 5: Bloodlines from being anything more than being merely okay.
Burt Gummer, as played by Michael Gross once again, brings a reliable solid performance. It’s a solid foundation for the rest of the cast to act upon, it’s just a shame they themselves aren’t as strong.
Apart from Travis, played by Jamie Kennedy, the rest of the cast are there to fill out the numbers. You know some will become worm food and a lucky few will survive to the end. That doesn’t save Jamie Kennedy either as I found his character to be rather annoying.
The real bugbear for me though was the lack of any physical effects. Tremors and its sequels were a product of the late 90’s / early 00’s, so physical creations of the creatures were part of the film making process.
Tremors 5: Bloodlines looks like it is 100% CGI and I feel the film has lost some of its charm because of it. I’m not a CGI hater but there is still a place for physical visual effects but that feeling has become lost over the last few years.
I don’t know if Universal are milking the franchise one last time or were hoping to reinvigorate it for a new generation of fans. Either way I found ‘Tremors 5: Bloodlines’ as simply average.