20 Fun Facts About Tremors

Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon in Tremors (1990).
Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon in Tremors (1990).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Talk about an underground classic. Tremors—easily the greatest subterranean monster movie ever made—turned 30 years old this year. So, we’ve dug up some trivia that’ll help get you in the mood for an anniversary screening. Just watch your step …

1. The premise for Tremors came to screenwriter S. S. Wilson during a rocky hike.

A scene from Tremors (1990).Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Giant, worm-like beasts terrorizing Nevada. Now there’s an idea as wild as the West. The Tremors franchise has proved remarkably successful, having spawned a short-lived TV series, a prequel, and three sequels (with a fourth—Tremors: Island Fury—being released in October 2020). But how did it all begin? According to co-writer S.S. Wilson, we can thank some scrap paper and the Armed Forces’s film division.

“I had a job working as an editor at a navy base in the middle of the Mojave Desert,” Wilson said. “On weekends, when they weren’t shooting at the gunnery ranges, I was allowed to go hiking out there. One day, while climbing over large boulders, I had a thought. ‘What if something was under the ground and I couldn’t get off this rock?’” Wilson jotted his idea down, pursued it years later, and the rest is history.

2. Saturday Night Live forced the movie to change its name.

Tremors (1990) began pre-production with the working title “Land Sharks.” However, upon realizing that SNL had already unleashed a recurring character called LandShark to spoof Jaws (1975), Wilson and company decided to change the movie's title.

3. A menagerie of real-life animals inspired Tremors's creature design.

The real stars of Tremors are four grotesque carnivores known as “graboids.” Though there’s nothing quite like them in the animal kingdom, Mother Nature still played a big role in bringing these things to life. Special effects artists Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. threw bits and pieces of such real-world critters as elephants, crocodiles, dinosaurs, rhinos, slugs, and catfish into their graboid sketches. You may have noticed that, weirdly, this list excludes earthworms, which the pair found “very boring.”

4. Tremors, Gladiator (2000), and Iron Man (2008) share a key filming location

Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, California, has provided the backdrop for many movies. In addition to Tremors Star Trek V (1989), Gladiator (2000), Dinosaur (2000), Iron Man (2008), and Man of Steel (2013) are just some of the hundreds of movies that have shot here. In Tremors, these majestic mountains border Perfection, Nevada, a fictional near-ghost town.

5. Some of Tremors's early graboid concept art was deemed “too phallic.”

Fred Ward with Finn Carter in Tremors (1990).Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Special effects artists Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. dropped the idea of a turtle-like neck when somebody alleged that their monster’s blubbery folds resembled “foreskin.” According to Gillis, producer Gale Ann Hurd “said that when we would fax the drawings over, all the women in [her] office would pass 'em around and giggle.”

6. Like many PG-13 movies, Tremors gets away with a solitary F-bomb.

The Motion Picture Association of America—best-known for its (in)famous ratings system—allows “one nonsexual F word per script” in PG-13 films. Tremors takes advantage at the 34:07-mark, when Kevin Bacon's Val tells off a recently-killed graboid.

7. The writers of Tremors thought it would be more realistic to never reveal where the graboids came from.

Wilson in particular was fed up with the sci-fi genre’s standard monster origin clichés. “[They’re] either radioactive or they’re a biological experiment or they’re from outer space or they’ve always been there," he said in "The Making of Tremors." "Those are the only choices you have.” Thus, Tremors offers no information about its creatures’ beginnings (though later films claimed the man-eaters were prehistoric reptiles).

8. Tremors was Reba McEntire’s first movie.

McEntire postponed her honeymoon with fellow musician Narvel Blackstock until after Tremors finished shooting so that she could make her feature film debut playing the fearless, gun-toting Heather Gummer. Unfortunately, the Tremors franchise outlasted the couple's relationship; they divorced in 2015.

9. Only one full-length graboid model was constructed for Tremors.

After an overzealous graboid fatally crashes into a cement wall, our heroes Valentine “Val” McGee (Kevin Bacon), Earl Bassett (Fred Ward), and Rhonda LeBeck (Finn Carter) unearth the monster’s corpse. What they actually expose is a massive, one-of-a-kind dummy you can see in all its pebbly glory above.

10. Tremors's car scene was supposed to be much more explicit.

Horror’s all about what you don’t see. During one chilling sequence, a hungry graboid devours a middle-aged doctor, traps his petrified wife inside the couple's station wagon, and drags the entire vehicle underground. At first, director Ron Underwood planned on recording the car as it sank into a pit filled with vermiculite, an earthy, “dirt-like” substance. But, maddeningly, this material hardened without warning and his crew was forced to improvise.

Their solution? Subtlety. Following a brief struggle, the finished movie cuts to a distant, wide-angle shot of two headlight beams shining upwards into a starry sky before flickering out. The insinuation of a deadly off-screen burial was pulled off with some last-minute imagination.

11. Tremors's original intro ended up on the cutting room floor.

Tremors opens with Kevin Bacon peeing into a canyon. Admittedly, that’s hard to top. Still, a much darker beginning—wherein the mule of Perfection’s town drunk is gobbled up inside his rickety, wooden pen—was shot but ultimately deleted.

12. The studio chose to replace most of Tremors's soundtrack.

A strong score with a western twang spices up this movie’s unique flavor. But Ernest Troost, who was officially credited with composing the movie's soundtrack, actually wrote relatively little of what you hear in the finished product. Instead, Robert Folk created the lion’s share after Troost’s offerings were largely removed. “He must have had a very good lawyer,” Folk said, “because the provision in his contract stated, that if any of his music were used, that he would have screen credit … I was asked [if I wanted to share] screen credit and I really didn’t.”

13. Michael Gross began filming Tremors the day after Family Ties wrapped for good.

Kindly Mr. Keaton of Family Ties fame couldn’t be more different from Tremors’ breakout character. Gross’s tenure as Burt Gummer—a no-nonsense, gun-toting, and often anti-social survivalist—began less than 24 hours after the show which made him famous had its wrap party. Gross has stuck with the Tremors franchise over the decades and we'll be seeing more of him in October's Tremors: Fury Island.

14. Tremors gave Kevin Bacon severe sleepwalking nightmares.

For years, Bacon considered Tremors a low point in his professional career. “I broke down and fell to the sidewalk, screaming to my pregnant wife, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing a movie about underground worms!’” he told The Telegraph in 2013.

Bacon has since warmed up to the movie, but still remembers, “Having these crazy dreams about monsters” while filming, according to Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors. Those nightmares also led to some very bizarre evenings for Bacon’s then-pregnant wife, Kyra Sedgwick. “I would pick her up,” he said, “and sleep-walk and carry her out onto the street ... She’d be like ‘Honey, honey, honey, you’re asleep!’ and I’d say ‘No! I’ve gotta get you out of here!”

15. Director Ron Underwood nearly appeared in Tremors as female stunt double.

Director cameos don’t get much stranger than this. When the time came to film Tremors’s climax, Finn Carter’s stunt double was a no-show. So Underwood grabbed a wig and jumped into the fray himself for a few frames (which he later cut).

16. Tremors's moving graboid “humps” were achieved with a boat buoy.

Insert Jaws theme here: By chaining these maritime units to a truck and dragging them through underground troughs, the team created an ominous tunneling effect complete with rapidly flying dirt during key action scenes.

17. Tremors’s ending was altered due to test audiences.

Val and Earl spend the entire movie pining for the greener pastures of a nearby town named Bixby. Yet, as their graboid-slaying quest unfolds, Val finds himself growing close to Rhonda. Naturally, pre-launch viewers hoped they’d kiss after vanquishing the monsters. Instead, Tremors originally ended with Val and Earl driving to Bixby before having a change of heart and turning around. Clearly, this wouldn’t do—or at least, that's how Underwood’s test audience felt. The last few minutes were then swiftly re-shot to include that requisite smooch.

18. SyFy later gave Tremors's graboids a faux scientific name.

Before Tremors: The Series debuted on SyFy, a (now-defunct) tie-in website claimed that, following the events of the first film, scientists coined the Latin name Caederus mexicana for this newfound species.

19. James Gunn's Slither (2006) includes a sneaky reference to Tremors.

In an obvious nod to Fred Ward, the heroine in James Gunn's campy delight Slither teaches at Earl Bassett Community School.

20. There’s a Tremors exhibit at the Museum of Western Film History.

The Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine, California, features a wonderful display that features an enormous prop graboid head and a scale model of Chang’s Market. Next time you’re in eastern California, be sure to check it out!

Additional Sources: “The Making of Tremors,” Collector’s Edition DVD Bonus Feature; The Ultimate Tremors FAQ

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Office Will Debut Unreleased Footage When It Premieres on Peacock

Get ready for never-before-seen footage of The Office.
Get ready for never-before-seen footage of The Office.
NBC

Even though you would expect The Office to already be on Peacock, NBC’s new streaming service, the comedy remains on Netflix … for now. But once it leaves Netflix at the end of the year, we’ll all be getting a major treat when the episodes re-debut on NBC's new platform complete with unreleased footage.

In case you’re unaware, The Office chronicles the lives of a group of unique paper company workers. The series ran for nine seasons from 2005 to 2013, and featured an ensemble cast helmed by Steve Carell and included the likes of Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Creed Bratton, Jenna Fischer, B. J. Novak, Ed Helms, Mindy Kaling, Craig Robinson, and Ellie Kemper. Many of the actors on The Office have gone on to have impressive careers in the film and TV industry.

The Office unreleased footage

One awesome bonus of The Office leaving Netflix for Peacock is that the streaming service will also be making unreleased footage available for subscribers. While speaking to Bloomberg, Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises chairman Matt Strauss revealed, “We will be reintroducing The Office in a more complete way, incorporating elements that were not part of the original broadcast.”

Getting to see unreleased footage from the Dunder Mifflin gang will definitely be incentive enough to sign up for Peacock when the show moves there in 2021.

When is The Office coming to Peacock?

While The Office is currently on Netflix, it won’t be for long—those streaming rights will expire by the end of the year. Fans will be able to see all of their favorite characters on Peacock in January of 2021, and Peacock will retain the streaming rights to the series for the next five years.