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Every Tremors Movie Ranked Worst To Best

At the dawn of the 1990s, creature features were largely considered B-movie fare. Sure, they were fun and occasionally funny, but most movie fans didn't really pay them any attention. But that all changed when director Ron Underwood decided to play with the genre. As a result, we got a zany masterpiece about subterranean beasts facing off against a wily band of small-town yokels, complete with cool practical effects and Kevin Bacon.

It was called Tremors, and with its release, Underwood and company essentially revived the creature comedy for an entire generation of film lovers. And they unexpectedly launched a full-on, B-movie franchise to boot, one that's maintained a surprising amount of continuity over a shocking amount of films. But which ones are worth watching, and which ones deserve to be dragged underground? Well, let's dig deep and rank the entirety of the gloriously silly and surprisingly entertaining Tremors franchise from worst to best.

Tremors 5: Bloodlines did little to reinvigorate the franchise

Truth be told, we're as surprised as anyone that the Tremors franchise exists at all. We're equally surprised that the series has actually remained pretty fresh and entertaining for nearly three decades now. But even we have to admit that the series got a little stale and formulaic after its fourth offering because, as much as we love him, Michael Gross doesn't exactly scream "face of the franchise."

As such, we were pretty pleased when we heard some new blood was coming to Tremors land for the fifth film in the series and that it was coming in the guise of funnyman Jamie Kennedy. Seems franchise producers were also keen to get the franchise out of its Southwestern U.S. setting, transporting Gross' Graboid-hunting Burt Gummer to the wilds of South Africa for Tremors 5: Bloodlines.

Unfortunately, neither the fresh locations nor fresh faces did much to reinvigorate the then-flagging franchise. Kennedy's incessant mugging as Travis (who we eventually find out is Burt's son) in particular proves more distracting than funny throughout Bloodlines, even as the film itself aimed to expand the Tremors-verse in terms of scope and creature design. On top of Kennedy's irritating performance, a seriously lackluster screenplay focuses more on camp than quality, and some surprisingly underwhelming CGI effects (replacing the franchise's trademark practical effects and puppetry) leave Bloodlines feeling so lifeless that even the arrival of the "Queen B***h" Graboid and the "African Ass Blaster" can't save it.

Tremors 3: Back to Perfection brought Ass Blasters to the franchise ... and it's never really recovered

We'd like to be crystal clear about one thing before we get say too much about Tremors 3, and it's that we fully believe Michael Gross to be an actor of unique ability and deep wells of natural charisma. More to the point, we firmly believe his presence as the gun-loving Burt Gummer to be among the high points of both 1990's Tremors and its 1996 sequel, Tremors 2: Aftershocks. There was never, however, a single moment in either of those films that we found ourselves wishing Gross' agonizingly overbearing Burt Gummer was the star of the show because he's just more fun in small doses.

And yet Tremors 3: Return to Perfection found Gross' guileful gun nut taking center stage, and well, the results are about as bombastic as you'd expect. To make matters worse, Back to Perfection saw Gross paired with co-star Shawn Christian, who shamelessly plays things way, way over-the-top as thrill-seeker/entrepreneur "Desert Jack" Sawyer. Tremors 3 is also, of course, the film that saw the arrival of the infamous Ass Blaster version of the Graboids, and it's safe to say the franchise has never really gotten over that particular stage in Graboid evolution.

If you're wondering what Ass Blasters do, we'd advise you not to overthink it. Just know that Burt and his Tremors 3 crew get far too much pleasure in calling the creatures by name in Tremors 3. Still, for all its shortcomings, it's really nice to see the return of much of Tremors original cast for the third film. And we freely admit that Burt getting swallowed by and then cut out of a Graboid is the most Burt Gummer thing that's ever happened to Burt Gummer in a Tremors flick.

The franchise took a wrong turn to the past in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins

Just as there weren't many Tremors fans clamoring for Burt Gummer to become the face of the franchise, there weren't many who were anxious to see a Tremors prequel film. But that didn't stop Tremors producers from traveling back in time for the fourth film in the franchise, 2004's The Legend Begins.

The Tremors creative team actually took the series all the way back to the Old West for Tremors 4, and they showed series fans how the town of Perfection came to be. Surprisingly, they brought Michael Gross in to star as one of his own character's ancestors, Hiram Gummer. But before you ask just how in the heck Graboid lore didn't make its way from one generation to the next in the Gummer family's histories — thus leaving Burt wholly unprepared for the subterranean beasts a century later   we'll just say your guess is as good as ours.

We'd also say it's not really all that important, and that the Tremors 4 creative team still managed to have some serious fun with The Legend Begins, leaning fully into the Western tropes and slyly blending them into the comic creature feature formula that had served them pretty well in the first three movies. The appearance of Billy Drago as the hired gunslinger Black Hand Kelly is particularly inspired, even if his character isn't around long enough. So too is Gross' hilarious work as his far more timid ancestor, Hiram. Unfortunately, The Legend Continues proves little more than a clever concept as the film's plot is essentially a carbon copy of the original film.

Tremors 7: Shriekers Island made brilliant if predictable use of a Jurassic Park-y setup

Just when you thought there was nothing left to do for a Tremors franchise which has battled graboids of all shapes and sizes over six prior flicks, along comes the sublimely goofy, giddily gore-tastic, and utterly predictable Shriekers Island to prove you really don't need to teach an old graboid new tricks.

As plot is hardly the point at this stage in the Tremors franchise, we'll simply tell you that Shrieker Island does, in fact, unfold on an island. And it finds Tremors creatives borrowing from another creature-friendly franchise in Jurassic Park, with famed graboid fighter Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) traveling to the titular remote outpost (a big game hunting retreat where graboids are the game) to kill genetically altered versions of the subterranean beasts he first faced off against 30 years ago.

Once there, the action unfolds about as you'd expect, with Burt and a ragtag bunch of allies (including Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder) gunning, burning, bombing, and chainsawing their way through their foes en route to a tragic finale that genuinely feels like the end of the entire franchise.

Given that nobody expected there would ever be a sequel to the original Tremors in the first place (let alone an entire franchise), Shrieker Island may or may not prove the final chapter in the saga. But should that be the case, it's a fitting swan song for all the chaos and carnage the graboids, shriekers, and ass blasters have wrought over the years.

Tremors 2: Aftershocks put Fred Ward front and center

By any stretch of the imagination, landing Kevin Bacon for the original Tremors movie was a major casting coup by the folks at Universal Pictures. But even in spite of the film's astounding cult success, there were clearly no original plans to franchise the concept. Likewise, Bacon was clearly not interested in returning to the fold as he grew into a bona fide A-lister in the '90s.

Luckily for us, his Tremors co-star Fred Ward never fully found himself on the A-list, and he was game to jump back into the Tremors fray for a second Graboid showdown. And Ward is absolutely brilliant in his second turn as the cantankerous Earl Bassett, and he imbues the character with a legitimate sense of pathos and regret in the aptly titled sequel Tremors 2: Aftershocks.

In all honesty, there's a lot to love about Tremors 2: Aftershock, which finds Earl flat broke and back in Nevada after the whirlwind Graboid press tour. Desperate for cash, he ends up finding work south of the border as a Graboid bounty hunter. Unfortunately, the Graboids have evolved since he first encountered them, and he and his partner Grady (Chris Gartin) soon finds themselves in way over their heads. Now, for all the energy, emotion, and wit that Ward brings to the film as Earl, Gartin's grating turn as Grady unfortunately zaps a lot out of Aftershocks. The film is ultimately saved when Michael Gross turns up as Burt and starts doing what Burt does best. But had Burt Gummer not turned up to save the day in Aftershocks, we're pretty sure the film would've been much lower on this list.

Tremors 6: A Cold Day in Hell made good use of bigger, badder Graboids

After three straight underwhelming offerings in Tremors 3: Return to Perfection, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, and Tremors 5: Bloodlines, we were on the verge of giving up on the Tremors franchise altogether. But just when we thought the beastly magic was gone forever, the Tremors-verse found its groove again with Tremors 6: A Cold Day in Hell.

The series found that groove in the wilds of Canada of all places, and it also found Burt and his boy, Travis, traversing the Great White North to take on a new batch of Graboids, not to mention hoping to find a cure for the deadly case of Graboid poisoning that's about to put an end to the elder Gummer. It also finds the father-son duo sharing the screen with one Valerie McKee (Jamie-Lee Money), who's purported to be the daughter of those crazy kids Val (Kevin Bacon) and Rhonda (Finn Carter) from the first Tremors movie.

Now, on the topic of Jamie Kennedy's return to the Tremors-verse, we'll say we were a bit worried it would ruin Tremors 6. And while his work in A Cold Day in Hell is often just as annoying as it was in Bloodline, Kennedy is far more palatable the second time around, if only because the film's surprisingly clever screenplay frequently skewers Travis' excessively inflated presence. The CGI work in the film is also considerably better this time, though the practical effects are still greatly missed. Nonetheless, there's little question that everyone involved is having a ton of fun working on A Cold Day In Hell, and that joyous energy translates to serious fun for viewers, even if the film never quite delivers on its promises of Arctic insanity.

Tremors got everything right the first time around

As if there were any doubt, 1990's Tremors is tops on this list. Frankly, we'd question your sanity if you really believed any of the sequels or prequels would land the top spot here. But if you're among the doubters (or somehow among the tragic few who've never seen Tremors), we'd encourage you to watch this gory, unabashedly campy little movie immediately because it's about as perfect a horror comedy as has ever been produced. It's also a first rate B-movie that feels as fresh, funny, and wholly original as it did when it was first released 30 years ago.

But just in case you haven't seen Tremors yet, the film is set in the isolated town of Perfection, Nevada, where Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) pass their days doing the dirty work of Perfection's colorful collection of citizens. When a particularly nasty job backfires, the pair decide its time to skip town and start anew elsewhere. Only on their way out, they find a couple of dead bodies, and then they bump into a seismologist (Finn Carter) who tells them that massive underground creatures are out to feast on any and everyone in the valley.

Rather than sit back and wait for the carnage to begin, Val, Earl, and the people of Perfection take up arms and defend themselves against their colorfully named enemies, the Graboids. What ensues is a full-tilt monster movie boogie that's boldly gory, surprisingly scary, and utterly hilarious in ways you never expect. It also happens to feature crackerjack performances from the entire cast, stunning practical effects, and a creature design that, even after multiple sequels and a prequel, has never been improved upon.