Genre: Horror Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.
Release Date: April 9th, 1996 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: S.S. Wilson Actors: Fred Ward, Chris Gartin, Helen Shaver, Michael Gross, Marcelo Tubert, Marco Hernandez
n the Petromaya Oil Field in Chiapas, Mexico, a swarm of large, subterraneous animals have started killing the workers. Mr. Ortega (Marcelo Tubert) journeys to Perfection Valley, Nevada, to track down Earl Bassett (Fred Ward, whose character’s name was formerly Earl Bass in “Tremors” ), a man who previously conquered a batch of the monsters. For the price of $50,000 per “graboid” (the name given to the creatures in the first film), Earl joins annoying hotshot Grady Hoover (Christopher Gartin) to hunt and destroy them. The Mexican army agrees to give them all the supplies they need – including the oil company’s geologist, Kate Reilly (Helen Shaver). Ortega also offers to double the reward money if they can capture a graboid alive.
“Stuff like this only happens in the middle of nowhere,” explains Grady – a novel idea for monster attacks. Swiftly, Earl and Grady are out in the desert with just their truck and heavy firepower, using clanging chains attached to the back of the pickup to attract the brutes, which hunt by sound and vibrations. Earl’s new secret weapons are remote-controlled vehicles stocked with dynamite that can be detonated from a distance. In no time at all, the duo racks up a dozen kills. But their luck is about to run out, especially as Grady routinely engages in daredevilry and sheer stupidity while the slimy barbarians get smarter.
Grady is comic relief; but rather than using witty banter, his character is scripted to be naïve, imbecilic, and just plain obnoxious (he describes it as a “sunny disposition”). His idiocy begs for him to become a victim, but sadly the incredibly small cast leaves little room for a sizable body count. Actor Michael Gross returns as Burt Gummer, a survivor from the first encounter with the varmints, and one who revels in military paraphernalia and explosive excess (he’s overjoyed to utilize anti-tank cartridges). Apparently the filmmakers couldn’t get Reba McEntire (who played his wife) to return, so they wrote her off; an identical route was taken for Kevin Bacon’s role. This time, Earl gets a modest love interest, which provides some of the most irritating moments. There are only about three other characters in the film, marking “Tremors II: Aftershocks” as perhaps the monster movie with the smallest death toll of all time.
The same type of humor is used for this direct-to-video sequel, which is bland enough to distract from the otherwise thrilling nature of the underground leviathans (and the new heat-seeking, two-legged spawn they adapt into, dubbed “shriekers”) while offering up few actual laughs. Fortunately, it also reuses the same sufficient creature effects, most of which are rubbery puppets that stand the test of time. The gore and goop are also adequate, even if the newer hermaphroditic crawlers are occasionally presented with outdated computer graphics. It doesn’t quite measure up to the original, although the plot, the characters, and the tone are nearly identical – making it a fitting follow-up companion piece for fans.
– Mike Massie