Director: Don Michael Paul
Writer: John Whelpley
Starring: Michael Gross, Jamie Kennedy & Jamie-Lee Money.
It might not be a Christmas movie, but it has ice and snow, so I figured that would be good enough for a December review.
Especially given the weather outside as I write this.
It might not be snowy right now, but a fierce cold wind is blowing angrily. The sort of wind that cuts through you like a knife and chills you so deeply you can feel it in your bones.
And of course, there’s the noise.
The constant rumble as the wind pushes and shoves against trees and fences, the heavy rush of sound as it picks up speed and pummels the side of the house and the occasional ominous howl, like that of a mournful beast, that rises in pitch before disappearing into nothingness.
Not that the crappy weather bothers me at the moment as I’m sitting inside with the heating on, sipping at a hot cup of coffee.
Which gives me the best of both worlds of hot and cold, for the tremors franchise has moved from the heat of Perfection Nevada (yes, and South Africa) to the cold Canadian territory of Nunavut.
The movie opens with a trio of researchers drilling into the ice when they notice that there is some seismic activity. Deciding to ignore the underground rumbles, they continue on with their work and are soon surprised to find that they have disturbed a Graboid that bursts out of the ice and has itself a three-course meal of scientific researchers. The strange thing about this though, at least as far as the plot goes, is that for reasons unknown our ice-dwelling Graboid pal initially ignores the dude with the noisy drilling equipment and instead goes for the lady standing fairly quietly on the ice. It’s a little strange how it chooses the quiet person, rather than the noisy dude as that pretty much messes up the whole thing of Graboids being drawn to sound/vibrations.
Unless the lady had something else going on that vibrated more than a drill, but I’m not going to dwell on that.
For anyone who doesn’t know what a Graboid is, basically, it’s a large (about 10 foot long) subterranean worm, with 3 tentacle-like “grabbers” in its mouth to help snare its prey. It is also drawn to vibrations, so if you stand in the Nevada desert and decide to do a bit of square dancing, don’t complain when a giant worm then chomps on your ass.
There are other parts to the Graboid life-cycle, but I’m not going to discuss Ass-Blasters and the like right now. I’m just going to leave the name Ass-Blasters there and let your imagination figure it out because you’re bound to instantly think of something rude when you read the words, Ass-Blaster.
Anyhow, back to the movie, and when there’s a Graboid incursion there’s only one man that can be called on and that’s gun-toting Burt Gummer (Michael Gross). A man who has been killing Graboids ever since the first movie and has even had an ancestor face off the giant worms back in the days of the wild west. This time around, Burt's not the only one who can be called upon as anyone who’s seen Tremors 5: Bloodlines may remember that Burt’s son Travis (Jamie Kennedy) joined Burt to help him in his monster hunting expeditions.
Something else from previous Tremors films that has carried over to Cold Day in Hell includes the new character of Valerie McKee (Jamie-Lee Money) daughter of Valentine McKee, Kevin Bacon’s character from the first movie. And if that wasn’t enough, Burt has been suffering from pain and blackouts as a result of poisoning from when he was swallowed by a Graboid in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection.
This may sound as though you need to be familiar with all of the films in order to enjoy this, but you can go into it as a stand-alone movie. Sure, you’ll get more out of it having a bit of knowledge of what came before, but it’s easy enough to jump into and pick-up without all that prior knowledge. Maybe that’s why they dropped the numbers from the series and decided not to call this Tremors 6?
Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell is an enjoyable enough of a romp but it does have a few issues, the strangest one of all being the absence of the ice and snow outside of the opening sequence.
That may seem like a strange thing for me to bring up but the movie is called A Cold Day in Hell, the cover shows a Graboid bursting out of ice whilst Burt is clothed in winter camo and that opening sequence involves snow and ice.
But when Burt and Travis arrive all the ice and snow has melted due to an unexpected heatwave and the characters just mutter about global warming.
The movie was apparently supposed to have been filmed in the mountainous regions of Bulgaria, but due to severe blizzards, they decided to film in South Africa and then use climate change/global warming to try and explain the change in weather.
That’s fair enough I guess but perhaps a different tag line would have been a bit more accurate? Or maybe actually film in Canada were the movie is set, or anywhere that has snow because it was a bit odd to not include what was going to be the U.S.P. for this entry to the franchise.
Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, isn’t a bad movie, just one that has its hands…well, tentacles…tied by the ground that has already been lain out, the production issues and the fact that there is nothing new on offer. It also feels a bit odd when it ignores those moments that are pretty much part of the essential nature of the Graboids, which sees them ignoring people making noise and even reacting differently to explosions to what was set-out in the first movie.
The effects are good but I’m sure they could have saved some money but not having the Graboids leap out of the ground in slow motion every time they attack and have used that cash elsewhere.
Still, it is what it is and in this case, it is another OK entry to the franchise.
It’s watchable and fairly fun but it doesn’t add anything new to the series and that’s the biggest problem.
The previous movie was the same Tremors premise only in South Africa and this one does exactly that, only in Canada – but really it’s South Africa.
Does this mean that the Tremors franchise has run out of steam?
To be honest, I think it does.
Mind you, it hasn’t yet hit that horror staple of going into space once you’ve run out of ideas. maybe that will happen a few movies down the line?
This sixth entry is an enjoyable flick with some nice call-backs, but it’s just re-treading over old ground, so, maybe it’s time to leave the franchise alone for a bit.
there are still other avenues to explore though and they could have Graboids attacking a town, and have a bigger cast and more destruction (probably with a bit of fracking thrown in for good measure) but I don’t think they will have a budget that will stretch that far. Which is a bit of a shame.
So what’s a different option to take the series?
Well, as the movies have also focused on Burt as much as it has the Graboids, why not continue with the idea set up at the end of part 5 and have Burt and Travis working together as monster hunters?
It doesn’t have to be Graboids, they could be hunting anything and that could be a good way to introduce new creatures into the franchise whilst also hinting at something Graboid related that could be revealed a few movies down the line. But there is also the chance that it could alienate fans that just want to see some big old wiggly worms. It does seem as though the franchise is stuck in a rut by not having a big enough budget or the balls to take a step in a new direction.
Could be time to hang up the seismic detectors and call it a day on Tremors?
Well, not yet it isn't because there’s supposedly another movie in the works that’s currently going under the moniker of Tremors: Island Fury, so it doesn’t look like the franchise is ready to quit just yet.
Will I watch the next entry?
Yes, I probably will, because even though as far as progression goes, things are a bit static, the movies are enjoyable enough that it’s easy to just turn off your brain and watch something fun.
If you’ve never seen a Tremors movie, then go and watch the first film. If that’s the only one you ever watch, then you’re not really missing out, but if you do fancy watching more entries, there are worse franchises that you could follow.