An affectionate send-up of schlocky 1950s monster pics, but with better special effects, Tremors has a few clever twists but ultimately can't decide what it wants to be - flat-out funny, which it's not, or a scarefest.

An affectionate send-up of schlocky 1950s monster pics, but with better special effects, Tremors has a few clever twists but ultimately can’t decide what it wants to be – flat-out funny, which it’s not, or a scarefest.

In this case, the threat comes in the form of four house trailer-sized worm-creatures, with multiple serpent like tongues, that tunnel underground before bursting up to devour human prey.

All the conventions of the genre are here: a small town in the middle of nowhere isolated from outside help, with a scientist on hand to study strange seismic phenomena. After that, however, the scripters begin to play with those cliches. The scientist, for example, is a pretty young woman (Finn Carter) who doesn’t know where the monsters come from or understand why everyone keeps asking her to explain, while the heroes – handyman types Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward – carry on like Curly and Larry in search of Moe.

The pacing and action improve considerably as the film goes on, maintaining a tongue-in-cheek approach while the situation becomes more dire.

Tremors

Production

No Frills. Director Ron Underwood; Producer S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock; Screenplay S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock; Camera Alexander Gruszynski; Editor O. Nicholas Brown; Music Ernest Troost; Art Director Ivo Cristante

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Kevin Bacon Fred Ward Finn Carter Michael Gross Reba McEntire Bobby Jacoby
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more