Tremors – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review
Amazon Commissions Earned
Film Title: Tremors (1990)
Release Date: 2020
Runtime: 96 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Arrow Video
Audio Formats: DTS-HD MA 5.1 / 4.0 / 2.0
High Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Release Date: 12/15/20
Director: Ron Underwood
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, Reba McEntire, Victor Wong, Robert Jayne, Charlotte Stewart, Tony Genaro, Ariana Richards, Richard Marcus, Sunshine Parker, Michael Dan Wagner, Conrad Bachmann, Bibi Besch, John Goodwin, John Pappas
Jump to Sections:
Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom
“Tremors” was a 1990 film directed by Ron Underwood, also known for directing such other films as “City Slickers” (1991), “Heart and Souls” (1993), “Speechless” (1994), and “Mighty Joe Young” (1998).
The story here and then also screenplay for the film was co-written by Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson [a.k.a. Steve Wilson]. These two had worked together before on the films “Short Circuit” (1986) and “*batteries not included” (1987). They’d go on to again collaborate as co-writers on the screenplays for other such films as “Ghost Dad” (1990), “Heart and Souls” (1993), and “Wild Wild West” (1999). It’s most certainly worth noting that the story itself was originally also written with the help of the film’s director, Ron Underwood, according to the credits. These three guys had worked together over the years on numerous projects and even shared the same agent.
The story of “Tremors” takes place in a very small isolated desert town (“Perfection”) in Nevada. The town’s population is just 14 residents, according to the sign and every person in town knows every other person in town. The two protagonists here are best friends named “Valentine” (Kevin Bacon) and “Earl” (Fred Ward) who run their own odd jobs company together. They do a little bit of everything, be it cleaning up the town’s garbage (at the dump) or emptying septic tanks or gathering firewood, or well, you get the picture. They’ve grown a bit too accustomed to being the odd jobs duo of this tiny town that offers them no options for work other than the dirty work and eventually they decide they’ve had it. They’re ready to up and leave this small town, but something stops them and it’s not just the subterranean dwelling oversized wormlike monsters but also their inability to leave the people they know behind and not try to help.
Yes, the town has been the subject of some recent seismic activity, as we learn, and there’s a reason for that as our two protagonists soon find out. They’ll start to make some sense of it and find out what they’re dealing with, but there’s really never any clear explanation of what caused these giant wormlike creatures to come to be or suddenly want to attack humans and livestock. That’s in no way a “spoiler” to really tell you, that you won’t get any full resolve or explanation to it all here, but that’s what 7 sequels are for. Isn’t it? If you want more, watch more of the films in this franchise and you’ll find out more about what becomes known as the “Graboid” here in the film. They’re pretty creepy creatures, to say the least, as that’s pretty much all we know about them in this first film.
One of my favorite things about this film (Tremors) is that there’s a nice ensemble of the folks that populate the tiny little town of Perfection. Just recently joining the small town, as a college grad student doing research regarding seismic activity, you have “Ronda” (Finn Carter) who we meet early on. The town all gathers mostly at the local store, “Mister Chang’s Market” run by “Walter Chang” (Victor Wong). At the market, and in town, you have the loveable gun-toting husband and wife “Burt Gummer” (Michael Gross) and “Heather Gummer” (Reba McIntire). There’s an annoying yet semi-likable (but not lovable) teenager named “Melvin Plug” (Bobby Jacoby) who doesn’t appear to have any legal guardian, a woman named “Nancy” (Charlotte Stewart) that appears to be married to a guy named “Nester” (Richard Marcus), and a young girl, presumably their daughter, named “Mindy” (Ariana Richards).
Some of those, and other characters I’ve not mentioned, don’t really have a chance to fully develop in a film that’s just 96 minutes and that’s fine, as some of them might even end up being victims and we’ll be glad we didn’t get that attached. Hey, I’m just being honest here, folks. Speaking of which, “Tremors” was a film that didn’t do good at the box office but managed to find its place on home video, namely first on VHS, where it has become a cult classic. It’s hard to believe that this 1990 film is now 30 years old.
Movie Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
“Tremors” makes its debut on 4K UHD Blu-ray in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The movie itself was shot on 35mm film using Arriflex cameras with Arriflex spherical lenses. “Tremors” has received a new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative, which was approved by both the film’s director (Ron Underwood) and director of photography (Alexander Gruszynski). The 4K scan for this new restoration was done at EFILM Burbank, California. Then, the color grading and restoration process was done at Silver Salt Restoration in London. The 4K UHD Blu-ray release comes with HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range.
Next, let me get technical, for a bit, in regards to the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc itself here. This release is using a BD-100 (100 gigabytes) disc, 89.21 gigabytes total, and 68.4 gigabytes for the film itself.
There are truly some excellent amounts of detail to be seen from the original 35mm 1990 film here via this new 4K presentation, especially with the addition of high dynamic range. The black level is perfectly solid, the flesh tones finally feel fully accurate, the colors are just as beautiful as they should be, and yet again I want to emphasize that there’s one immaculate amount of detail to be found here. There’s a very healthy bit of film grain retained here and it’s just remarkable to see a film that’s now 30 years in age looking this impressive now in 4K. The close-ups and most especially the extreme facial close-ups here hold some incredible detail that you’ve never ever even been close to seeing on home video until now, via this new 4K restoration.
All and all, all of those parties involved here in this new 4K restoration have done a really remarkable job on making this 1990 cult-classic look nothing short of perfect now. The 4K UHD Blu-ray is able to take full advantage of the 4K restoration, with the addition of HDR in two different choices. That’s not to say that the new 2020 Blu-ray release of this film (sold separately and using this very same new 4K restoration) doesn’t look great itself, because it does look great. However, the new Blu-ray (previously mentioned and not included here) feels to be missing the ways to deliver more accurate color representations, lighting, shading, and such via that which high dynamic range on 4K UHD Blu-ray allows for. I’m really very happy to say that Arrow Video here has done “Tremors” complete and utter visual justice on 4K UHD Blu-ray with a presentation that earns itself a perfect 5 rating for video quality. The fans of this cult-classic will certainly want to own this.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“Tremors” makes its debut to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround as well as in the options of DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 surround and the original DTS-HD Master 2.0 Stereo. These mixes, lossless, all contain a DTS core in each configuration (5.1, 4.0, & 2.0) for those not able to fully decode the DTS-HD MA format.
It’s great to see that we get a total of three audio configurations here, as purists will have a bit of a choice to make between the 4.0 old school (Pro Logic-like 4 channel) mix or go even more retro with the Stereo. According to IMDb, this film had a Dolby SR and Dolby Digital (surround) mix and also a Stereo mix during its original theatrical run, depending on the theater. So, it’s up to you if you opt for the Dolby SR type of experience via the DTS-HD MA 4.0 or opt for the simpler DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo sound mix. Personally, I first opted for (and prefer) the 5.1 surround mix as it gives it a much more modern configuration and approach to fully utilizing a surround sound system. However, I do enjoy the 2.0 Stereo lossless mix if I had to pick one of the two older (non 5.1) mixes. It is definitely fun to hear a 4.0 surround mix, but I just never can get too much into them as I’m a big fan of a speaker known as the subwoofer. Sorry. I even sometimes will opt to add the subwoofer to 2.0 Stereo source materials and make it into a 2.1 configuration. I just like bass. But enough about me.
Now, regarding how the 5.1 lossless mix goes, first and foremost the dialogue is delivered spot-on through the center channel speaker. I also love that it makes the obvious (expected) amount of use of the LFE and will leave even the tiniest of subwoofers to the largest out there rumbling all throughout the film. The amount of bass represented here in both the sound effects and the film’s original music composed by Ernest Troost sounds excellent with a subwoofer. It also sounds great in Stereo (2.0) or in a 4.0 surround sound as well. Speaking of the film’s original music, it gets represented beautifully across both the rear channels and the front left and right channels here in the 5.1 surround mix specifically, as well as getting that nice extra bit of “oomph” that I spoke of earlier with the subwoofer action. The sound effects also get a nice amount of rear channel use at times during some of the bigger climactic scenes involving gunfire and such.
There 5.1 mix is great, as you can tell I believe, but those other (2.0 Stereo and 4.0 surround) lossless mixes. It’s certainly worth noting that, according to the booklet included with the release, these (stereo and 4.0) mixes were newly remastered from the original sound materials by the folks at NBC Universal. That’s enough to certainly leave some fans excited who want to hear this in different older style configurations, for sake of memories of how they originally heard the film during the theatrical experience or on home video with VHS or Laserdisc, way before DVD, Blu-ray, or 4K UHD Blu-ray.
I’m pleased to report that all of these mixes are worthwhile and do “Tremors” justice in terms of sound. I personally don’t find there really was any need to give this film a mix in object-based sound formats like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X even though it might sound good on paper — pun intended. This film works just fine in 5.1 surround, 4.0 surround, and 2.0 Stereo configurations. All and all, the “Tremors” 4K UHD Blu-ray earns itself a perfect 5 rating for audio quality. I always love seeing a film get this type of treatment in regards to giving the consumer the option to hear the film in so many different lossless configurations.
Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Physical bonus materials here in this limited edition 2-disc set include:
- A 60-Page Perfect Bound Booklet featuring new writing by Kim Newman and Jonathan Melville with select archive materials.
- A Large Fold-Out Double-Sided Poster featuring the original art as well as newly commissioned artwork by Matt Frank.
- A Small Fold-Out Double-Sided Poster featuring Graboid X-ray art by Matt Frank and the “Perfection” town sign (with population & elevation).
- Six Double-Sided Postcard-Sized Lobby Card Reproduction Artcards.
- Limited Edition Packaging with Reversible Sleeve featuring the original home video artwork as well as newly commissioned artwork done by Matt Frank.
- 50% Off Coupon for “Walter Chang’s Market”
Bonus materials for this 2-disc 4K UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Disc limited edition release include:
The 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc features extras that are presented in HD video quality (as noted below) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. The bonus materials on the 4K disc include:
- Audio Commentary by Ron Underwood, Brent Maddock & S.S. Wilson
- Audio Commentary by Jonathan Melville
- NEW “Making Perfection“ (31 minutes, 7 seconds – HD) is a 2020 documentary that was made by Universal Pictures. This features interviews with cast and crew, from this film, such as Kevin Bacon (“Valentine McKee”), Michael Gross (“Burt Gummer”), Ariana Richards (“Mindy”), Ron Underwood (director), S.S. Wilson (writer/producer), Brent Maddock (writer/producer), and Nancy Roberts (agent for Brent Maddock, S.S. Maddock & Ron Underwood), Ellen Collett (associate producer), Jenny Nugent (line producer), Alec Gillis (creature effects designer & creator), Tony Salome (location manager), Ivo Cristante (production designer), Tom Woodruff Jr. (creature effects designer & creator), and Laurent Bouzereau (director, “Tremors Behind The Scenes” 1990 featurette). It should definitely be noted that there are some interviews featured here with folks who were not part of this 1990 film like Jonathan Melville (author, “Seeking Perfection: An Unofficial Guide to Tremors”), Chris DeFaria (producer, “Tremors 2: Aftershocks”), and Jamie Kennedy (“Travis B. Welker” in the sequels “Tremors 5: Bloodlines” & “Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell”). NOTE: Lastly, I want to point out that this documentary is actually free to stream over on the official “Tremors” YouTube channel. There are even some more interviews from this documentary that didn’t make the cut and are included on the Blu-ray disc that I’ll discuss a little bit further below.
- NEW “The Truth About Tremors“ (22 minutes, 2 seconds – HD) is comprised of an interview with co-producer Nancy Roberts discussing how the film came to eventually get made and how she started her own company.
- NEW “Bad Vibrations” (10 minutes, 47 seconds – HD) is comprised of an interview with the director of photography Alexander Grusynski looking back on the film.
- NEW “Aftershocks and Other Rumblings” (12 minutes, 38 seconds – HD) is comprised of an interview with associate producer and second unit producer Ellen Collett.
- NEW “Digging in the Dirt: The Visual Effects of Tremors“ (20 minutes, 59 seconds – HD) takes a look back at the visual effects that were done for this film via interviews by the former crew of Fantasy II Film VFX and 4-Ward Productions VFX. Those interviewed here include Robert Skotak (4-Ward Productions), Christopher Warren (Fantasy II Film Effects), Gene Warren III (Fantasy II Film Effects), and Elaine Edford (4-Ward Productions).
- NEW “Music for Graboids“ (13 minutes, 35 seconds – HD) is a featurette about the film’s original music score. This is comprised of interviews with the composers Ernest Troost (co-composer) and Robert Folk (co-composer). Ironically here it feels worth mentioning that IMDb and even the film’s credits have never given the co-composer Robert Folk his credit for the music.
- “The Making of Tremors“ (44 minutes, 15 seconds – HD) was originally released back in 1996. This archival documentary was directed by Laurent Bouzereau. You’ll get interviews here with filmmakers and the special effects team members such as Ron Underwood (director), S.S. Wilson (writer/producer), Brent Maddock (writer/producer), Dennis Skotak (4-Ward Productions, Inc.), Robert Skotak (4-Ward Productions, Inc.), Tom Woodruff, Jr. (Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc.), and Alec Gillis (Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc.).
- “Creature Featurette” (10 minutes, 26 seconds – HD) shows you some camcorder footage behind-the-scenes from the set of the film specifically of the creatures, known as “Graboids.” You even will get to see how they assembled these as well as how they work. I do want to emphasize that you’ll only see, as this lacks any audio or narration. Instead, music plays? It still remains fun to see this footage, regardless of why it lacks any description effort at the audio. The music is cool though, on that note.
- Deleted Scenes (5 minutes, 2 seconds – HD) includes a total of four scenes that were previously labeled (released) as outtakes. This features what was supposed to have been the original opening scene of the film. This footage may be in high-def (here) but it’s admittedly rougher visually than all hell. It should be noted it is presented in 4×3 with black pillar bars on the sides.
- “Pardon My French!” (16 minutes, 18 seconds – HD) is “a newly assembled compilation of overdubs recorded for the network television version of the film.” And, as you’d expect, this is downright hilarious in a so bad that it’s good kind of way.
- Electronic Press Kit was made in 1990 by Universal Studios to promote the film and it includes the following:
- Featurette (3 minutes, 50 seconds – HD)
- Kevin Bacon Profile (2 minutes, 53 seconds – HD)
- Michael Gross Profile (2 minutes, 20 seconds – HD)
- Reba McEntire Profile (1 minute, 53 seconds – HD)
- Trailer Gallery includes:
- Theatrical Trailer 1 (1 minute, 58 seconds – HD)
- Theatrical Trailer 2 (1 minute, 55 seconds – HD)
- Radio Spots (4 minutes, 21 seconds – HD)
- TV Spots (1 minute, 23 seconds – HD)
- VHS Promo (1 minute, 19 seconds – HD)
- “Tremors” Franchise Trailers (6 minutes, 34 seconds – HD) features all seven of the film’s sequels’ trailers, including:
- “Tremors 2: Aftershocks” (1996)
- “Tremors 3: Return to Perfection” (2001)
- “Tremors 4: The Legend Begins” (2004)
- “Tremors 5: Bloodlines” (2015)
- “Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell” (2018)
- “Tremors: Shrieker Island” (2020)
- Image Galleries consist of:
- Production Stills (112+/- images – HD)
- Behind The Scenes (54+/- images – HD)
- Laserdisc Image Gallery (113+/- images – HD)
- Screenplay (draft 6, 1988) (HD)
- Screenplay (draft 8b, 1989) (HD)
- Storyboards (58+/- pages – HD)
- Posters and Video Artwork (20+/- images – HD)
This limited-edition set includes an exclusive Blu-ray Bonus Disc. The disc itself comes with some additional special features in the form of some more new interviews (mentioned above), a set of two Q&A panels from the 25th anniversary celebration, a gag reel, and some early short films, as listed below. Each featurette or feature (short film) is presented in 1080p HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound — unless otherwise noted below.
- Extended Interviews from “Making Perfection“ include:
- Ron Underwood (47 minutes, 44 seconds – HD) the film’s director.
- S.S. Wilson (1 hour, 21 minutes, 44 seconds – HD) the film’s co-writer/producer.
- Brent Maddock (1 hour, 3 minutes, 6 seconds – HD) the film’s co-writer/producer.
- Nancy Roberts (50 minutes, 37 seconds – HD) agent for the three guys above.
- Alec Gillis (59 minutes, 31 seconds – HD) the creature effects designer & creator.
- ArcLight Hollywood 2015 Q&A (1 hour, 11 minutes, 11 seconds – HD) is from the film’s 25th anniversary celebration that was hosted at the ArcLight Hollywood Cinemas on August 25th, 2015. Here you’ll get a panel that included cast and crew members answering questions from the audience and reminiscing on making the film. This is a two-part Q&A and they did one before the film and one after. You’re given the option to “play all” if you don’t want to go through the menu twice. The two are Pre-Film Q&A (featuring the Cast) and the Post-Film Q&A (featuring the Crew). Those folks that were on the panels include David Weiner (moderator), Brent Maddock (co-writer/producer), S.S. Wilson (co-writer/producer), Nancy Roberts (agent for Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson), Ron Underwood (director), Finn Carter (“Rhonda”), Michael Gross (“Burt Gummer”), Charlotte Stewart (“Nancy”), Robert Jayne (“Melvin”), Conrad Bachmann (“Jim”), and Richard Marcus (“Nester”).
- Gag Reel (9 minutes, 54 seconds – HD) features an optional Introduction and Audio Commentary (10 minutes, 48 seconds – HD) or the original audio. Co-writer and producer S.S. Wilson hosts the intro and audio commentary via audio narration. He discusses how he found the workprint of the film himself of this film and has comprised the outtakes (gag reel).
- Early Short Films all feature LPCM (uncompressed Linear PCM) 1.0 Mono sound and include the following:
- “Recorded Live” (8 minutes, 12 seconds – HD) from 1975 was a horror-comedy student film by S.S. Wilson. This is presented thanks to the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive.
- “Dictionary: The Adventure of Words” (16 minutes, 26 seconds – HD) from 1968 was an educational film directed by Brent Maddock, produced by Ron Underwood, and features stop motion animations done by S.S. Wilson.
- “Library Report” (24 minutes, 32 seconds – HD) from 1983 was an educational film directed by Ron Underwood that also features stop motion animations done by S.S. Wilson. There’s a robot character here that would go on to inspire one in a film that S.S. Wilson co-wrote called “Short Circuit” (1986).
The bonus materials here are just perfect. You get everything that I’ve listed above. Need I say more. Really? Arrow Video has put together one very desirable limited edition 2-disc set of the film on 4K UHD Blu-ray here and, at the time of writing this, there’s most certainly a reason why it’s currently sold out or on backorder at most retailers: it’s just that good. If you want me to be honest and say what I think is missing, I’d say a digital copy would have been nice but that is just not a possibility with Arrow Video releases it seems. Also, it does seem a bit odd to me that they didn’t include the Blu-ray Disc counterpart of the new 4K restoration and that it’s instead only sold separately. Still, those two things not being on this release are not in any way anything to knock an already perfect release any single bit down from getting a rating it deserves.
Bonus Materials Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“Tremors” was a 1990 monster movie that took practical special effects, a very small town populated by characters that were all somewhat believable. Honestly, the two protagonists of “Valentine” and “Earl” are who we (as the audience) are relating to or rooting for the most here. However, we do want to see this small town be able to fight off this strange type of monster or perhaps monsters? Still, admittedly we know we will see someone have to be killed by the creature for it ever to even be considered a threat. The gore isn’t anything you’d expect really from a horror film, as this managed to only get a PG-13 rating, but it manages to work well enough to give you a sense of how dangerous the creature can be. As I had previously mentioned, the use of practical special effects and not trying to use the early forms of computer effects was truly what managed to make this film work and still manages to help it hold up visually some 30 years after its original release when presented in 4K Ultra HD.
Speaking of which, “Tremors” makes for one triumphant 4K UHD Blu-ray debut coming from a new 4K restoration that was approved by the director and DP (director of photography). The 4K physical release comes with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range as well. It looks great and comes with a very impressive amount of detail all throughout the visual presentation. The amount of film grain, the new color grading, the solid black level finally able to be achieved (thanks to HDR), and just the overall experience is something that you’ve never experienced on the previous 2010 Blu-ray release. It’s always incredible to see a 1990 film look this good when it comes to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format.
In terms of audio quality, there are so many choices here for you to pick from in terms of audio configurations, all in the DTS-HD Master Audio lossless sound format. You’ll get a 2.0 Stereo mix, a 4.0 surround mix, and a typical 5.1 surround sound mix. I sampled all three and found myself just wanting to go back to the 5.1 and I think that has to do with the use of the subwoofer being necessary — especially with a film called “Tremors,” you know? I do have to say I really enjoyed the 2.0 and 4.0 for a flashback to the sound presentations of the older days though. Fans will be happy to get these options and the newer (2.0 Stereo and 4.0) mixes were actually just recently remastered by the folks at NBC Universal.
The bonus materials on this limited edition 2-disc 4K UHD Blu-ray release of the film are just superb and come in both the form of physical extras as well as digital extras found on the 4K and Blu-ray Discs. In terms of physical extras, there’s a whole lot to leave you with after you’ve watched the film. You’ll have the 60-page booklet to read through and enjoy all of the archival photos as well there. You have two double-sided posters to possibly frame and hang on your wall, perhaps along with the six lobby card reproductions. And, there’s even a 50% off coupon you might want to hold on to as it’s tied to the fictional market in the film. Trust me, you won’t be getting to redeem it anytime soon, so go ahead and put it somewhere to display it and show your love for the film.
As if the physical extras aren’t even enough, there’s an audio commentary and lots of featurettes to be found on the actual 4K UHD Blu-ray disc itself. That all totals up to roughly 220 minutes (over 3 and a half hours) itself and then there’s an exclusive Blu-ray Disc that will be limited to only this version. That Blu-ray includes interviews and Short Films from the guys responsible for “Tremors” that have been remastered and are presented in HD. On that Blu-ray Bonus Disc, that’s another 476 minutes (nearly 8 hours) of supplemental material that you’ll only find with this set. All and all, this is one perfect set of extras. That’s over 11 hours of video extras. How cool is that?
Arrow Video has truly done the 1990 film “Tremors” complete and utter justice with its 4K UHD Blu-ray debut release here. This comes as very highly recommended.
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
5 (out of 5) for bonus materials
Very Highly Recommended
2020 4K UHD Blu-ray Release