Universal Studios Home Video / 1996 / 100 Minutes / Rated PG-13
Street Date: August 28, 2001
It is seven years after the events in Tremors, but Earl Basset (Fred Ward) still lives in the sleepy town of Perfection, Nevada - though he can't quite put the memories of fighting those brutal land shark "graboids" behind him. Then one day, a businessman specializing in crude oil extraction pays him a visit. It seems those nasty "graboids" are at it again, killing workers and destroying the wealthy businessman's investment. Eventually he persuades Basset to make a trip to New Mexico, and with the help of his enthusiastic taxi driver (Christopher Gartin), fight off the subterranean creatures - to the tune of $50,000 per kill. With an offer that he can't refuse, Basset returns for the hunt... and faces off with his past.
Original Tremors screenwriters S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock return for Tremors 2: Aftershocks, with Wilson taking over the directing chores from Ron Underwood, who executive produced. Despite losing key cast members Kevin Bacon and Reba McEntire, Ward and Michael Gross return, along with an appealing band of newcomers including Christopher Gartin as the young taxi driver and Helen Shaver as a scientist. The actors deliver solid performances despite a tendency to overact at times, with Michael Gross nearly stealing the show with his zealous, survivalist character. And it is great to see Shaver playing a more action-oriented role and kicking butt with hard-ass Midwestern accent in full force. (Shaver may be most memorable as the weakest clairvoyant in movie history. In 1979's "Amityville Horror," she screamed hoarsely at a fireplace: "It's the gateway to hell! Cover it!")
While obviously produced to cash in on the cult status of the original film, Tremors 2 continues to develop the mythology of the series, with the graboids giving birth to (or metamorphosing into, I couldn't figure out which) various different creatures. It is also mildly interesting to watch the humans initiating the hunt after the creatures instead of the other way around. Wilson displays a sure hand behind the camera, and Virgil Harper's photography is often striking. And while perhaps dated by today's standards, some of the special effects are neat. While the traditional puppetry can look embarrassingly bad, the then-new computer generated effects look surprisingly good if too "bouncy" at times.
Yet despite brisk pacing, the story often lags in the beginning, and the sense of camaraderie among the survivors is lacking until the third act. Sure, a few of the action sequences generate some excitement, and large doses of humor relieve the tension, but no matter how hard Wilson tries, the overall story just isn't as compelling as the original. Tighter editing and better plotting may have resulted in more urgency and a more exciting sense of adventure, and the characters could have used more delineation. While no embarrassment, Tremors 2 is only mildly entertaining at best.
Video: How Does The Disc Look?
Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, like the first Tremors disc this transfer is not anamorphically encoded but doesn't look too bad. Since this sequel was produced seven years after the original, the elements look crisper, though there are more than a few blemishing artifacts that can be mildly annoying. Colors are also more vibrant and well-saturated than the first Tremors disc, and fleshtones appear natural. Blacks are deep, though there is some bluish fading in select shots, while contrast is quite good with crisp whites free of blooming. Edge enhancement isn't as excessive as on the first Tremors disc, but nonetheless is still noticeable enough to mar the presentation. Though this film was released straight to video, it's a bummer that Universal didn't give the transfer better treatment.
Audio: How Does the Disc Sound?
Though advertised as including a 2.0 Dolby Digital surround track, this disc only contains a 2.0 stereo mix. The lack of surrounds is a disappointment and surprisingly. Still, the front displays a pleasing depth with natural-sounding stereo pans. Frequency range is fairly wide with deep lows and fairly crisp highs. Jay Ferguson's acoustic guitar-flavored score sounds especially good, though undoubtedly would have been even better had this been a real surround mmix. Bass is fine and anchors the action, though again is lacking as this is a stereo mix. Dialogue is clean and clear enough, though ADR is often obvious. Though the missing surrounds are a disappointment, the rest of the mix is adequate.
True French and Spanish 2.0 surround dubs are also included, along with English captions and French and Spanish subtitles. No Closed Captioning is provided.
Supplements: What Goodies Are There?
Unlike the first Tremors, Universal has provided little in the way of supplements. The only extras include onscreen production notes that are mostly promo hype with a bit of interesting trivia, cast and crew filmographies, and a non-anamorphic theatrical trailer.
Though I thought Tremors 2 remains relatively faithful to the mythos created in the first film, the pace is sluggish and it simply lacks the spark of the original. The picture looks better than the first disc, however, and the soundtrack lacks the surrounds as advertised. With little in the way of supplements, this disc is probably only worthwhile for diehard fans; otherwise, try to find this one in the bargain bin, or pick up the Tremors and Tremors 2 two-pack for $34.95.