a look at monstrous wildlife, graboid edition

August 9, 2010

Once upon a time there was a little movie about a fictional town somewhere in New Mexico overrun by an old and bizarre subterranean species with an insatiable appetite and the ability to sneak up on its victims where they least expected it: right under the solid ground on which they stood. That movie was called Tremors, and its simple Sci-Fi Channel B-movie greatness managed to make it somewhat popular. And apparently, it was popular enough to find a fan at the University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg, Germany, who decided to use them as the topic of his undergraduate thesis: an informative illustrated short about dangerous cryptids and horror movie beasts called Monstrous Wildlife. Here’s what we might refer to as the show’s pilot episode…

You know, I have to say that as far as low budget horror movie monsters go, Graboids are actually one of the few well thought ones. That’s what made Tremors somewhat enjoyable, even though it suffered from the very typical cheesy one-liners and stilted acting afflicting many movies like it. With a somewhat realistic monster, acting in a consistent, believable way, you didn’t have to suffer through the cognitive dissonance you get with today’s slew of Sci-Fi Channel…err… excuse me, I mean SyFy Channel originals, which seem to be driven by the idea that people separate reality from fantasy so well, neither the writers or the filmmakers need to bother with a single shred of believability in the final product. I mean, come on. Sharktopus? Mansquito? Ice Spiders and Nazi Gargoyles? It’s as if today’s makers of pulp horror and sci-fi films just put a few old clichés in some horrible, idea-mangling blender, turn it to liquefy and let the resulting goop set into a script.

I’m really not a cinema snob, not in the least. In fact, I love good low budget flicks for their entertainment value, and their outlandish ideas. But seriously, B-movie makers, meet me halfway here. Don’t just throw a random monster at me and expect me to get all excited, especially when it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves from the visual effects artists. We’re watching the movie for the scary creatures and sinister aliens, not the wooden actors with cardboard thin characters given awkward lines to somehow inflate into actual, relatable humans with real emotions. Make those extraterrestrial baddies, biological abominations, and primeval terrors shine from the screen in all their CGI glory, make them believable, and make them scary. After all, a good monster can be the start or a cult hit, and a subsequent franchise based on the aforementioned cult hit…

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  • Bruce Coulson

    Tremors was an excellent B-movie, if for nothing else the scene where the heroes are asking the female love interest (when they’re examining the corpse of one of the monsters) what it is, and she sensibly responds “I’m a geologist, not a biologist!” They answer “Well, you’re a scientist; you should have some answers!” Which, of course, is an homage to the old 50s sf monster fliks where the Scientist knew everything about every science specialty required.

    Good B-movies have one or two utterly impossible (or at least highly improbable) premises (the burrowing monsters in Tremors) but have everything in the plot logically follow after that premise; they are internally consistent. For me, the one-liners and occasional homage add to the enjoyment.

  • I thought the movie was set in Nevada. Otherwise, great article.