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Universal Studios Home Video presents
"The time: 0500 hours. The place: seven clicks south of El Chaco. The situation: a single graboid reported in the area two weeks ago. Only the third appearance of these underground carnivores in the last eleven years. Unfortunately, lack of action on the part of local authorities has allowed the creature to metamorphose into the second stage of its life cycle, producing six shriekers. A voracious, hermaphroditic life form which can double in number every few minutes simply by eating sufficient food. In this case, chicken."
DVD ReviewWhen it comes to the dreaded "film franchise", it seems that the quality generally suffers in direct correlation to the higher the sequel number. Witness the Friday The 13th series as a textbook example, if you must. In 1990, an unlikely franchise was launched with the debut of Tremors, which starred Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward as a couple of mopes living in the dusty desert town of Perfection, Nevada (population: 16). That film introduced the massive carnivorous worms, known as Graboids, which tunnel underground and track their prey via some type of sonar before bursting out of the ground to gobble up unsuspecting humans. Using a well-placed combination of humor and thrills, the first film surprised a lot of horror fans and spawned two sequels: the 1995 follow up Tremors 2: Aftershocks, and now Tremors 3: Back To Perfection.
This new installment is directed and written by Brent Maddock (screenwriter of the big-screen flop Wild, Wild West), and features most of Tremors original cast, with the exception of Bacon and Ward. Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), the heavily armed, paranoid survivalist, returns once again as a now seasoned veteran of the previous Graboid attacks that took place 11 years earlier. The opening sequence features Burt in South America wiping out an infestation of Graboids, and their deadly mutations, the Shriekers.
Perfection, which has been Graboid-free for over a decade, is still a dusty hole, but the inhabitants have attempted to generate tourism through shameless self-promotion highlighting the big worms. "Desert" Jack (Shawn Christian) gives tacky tours, complete with phony Graboid sightings designed to give the camera-toting tourists a thrill. The very serious Jodi (Susan Chuang) runs the general store, and sells an assortment of giant worm-related items. Everything is business as usual, until the inevitable reappearance of the Graboids turn things upside down.
Maddock has put together a strong script here (for the genre, that is), and he does not simply haul out the worms to repeat the wackiness of the first two films. Evolution has reared its ugly head, and the Graboids not only mutate into Shriekers, but also into a new, more dangerous breed. The new batch of monsters, comically dubbed "Ass Blasters," have their own unique features, and prove to be very nasty opponents. Maddock dishes out enough new twists here to prevent Tremors 3: Back To Perfection from becoming simply a carbon copy of its predecessors. I personally liked the numerous Moby Dick references sprinkled here and there.
The cast keeps a nice level of self-mockery just below the surface, which makes the funny dialogue even funnier. Television veteran Gross is great as the paranoid Burt, the only man that can save the world from the Graboids. Shawn Christian and Susan Chuang, who portray the other two leads, also deliver equally entertaining turns in roles that could easily have been forgettable. Original Tremors cast members Ariana Richards (Jurassic Park), Charlotte Stewart, Tony Genaro and Bobby Jacoby don't get much opportunity to shine, but their familiar faces are a welcome presence.
Like the other two films, there is plenty of comedy here. But one of the surprises is the CGI creatures that dominate the final act. Though not of the Jurassic Park caliber, the "Ass Blasters" look relatively "real" most of the time, in a perfectly tacky B-movie kind of way. Only a few scenes suffer from less than perfect animation.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Universal presents Tremors 3: Back To Perfection in a 1.85:1 original aspect ratio anamorphic widescreen transfer. The source print is very clean, and there are virtually no nicks or specks noticeable. Colors are bright, with no over saturation or smearing. Fleshtones look terrific and natural, and remain consistent across the board. Some of the night sequences, and those are few, fall victim to rather murky blacks, with poor shadow delineation. The good news is that 95% of this film takes place in bright Nevada sun, so I can overlook the weaknesses of the night scenes.
In general, a very nice transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Universal has issued Tremors 3: Back To Perfection with a solitary 5.1 English Dolby Digital audio track. While not on the level of The Matrix, it does have a better than expected dynamic range, with ample use of the surround channels for explosions, gunfire and random music cues. Benchmark directional imaging is minimal, but the overall soundfield is loud and robust enough for this no-brainer B-movie.
My only complaint was that the dialogue, while always understandable, seemed to have a small level of distortion present at times.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Tremors, Tremors 2: Aftershocks
Extras Review: Universal has kept the bonus materials to a minimum, but what is provided is decent enough. The Spotlight On Location featurette (14m:35s) features interview snippets from the primary production crew and cast members, as well as behind-the-scenes footage. Thankfully, this piece never veers into the typical realm of blatant puffery. There is much talk of preserving the integrity of "the franchise", and some of the early pre-production animation tests of the creatures is quite interesting.
The remaining supplements are also fairly standard: full screen theatrical trailers for all three films in the Tremors/b> series, cast/crew bios, onscreen production notes, subtitles in English and French, as well as 16 chapter stops.
Tremors 3: Back To Perfection really begged for a commentary track, but no such luck with this release. I guess I'll have to wait for the Tremors boxed set.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsTremors 3: Back To Perfection is a B-movie. Brent Maddock doesn't allow the franchise to rest on its wormy laurels, and has injected a nice mix of new twists and characters. It is very funny, and like the first two in the series, makes for an entertaining way to spend an hour and forty-four minutes.
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