Published: 04/12/2015 19:03 - Updated: 04/12/2015 14:23

Book on cult classic aims to release some Tremors


WHEN Jonathan Melville flicked on late night television in his home town of Golspie back in the 1990s, his attention was grabbed by a quirky modern B-movie about man-eating monsters in the Nevada desert.

He is far from being the only devotee of 1990 creature feature Tremors, which has grown into a cult favourite over the last quarter century, but film journalist Melville has taken his devotion to the franchise further by writing the first book length guide to the original film and its big and small screen sequels.

"I’ve not met anyone who doesn’t like it," Melville said.

"Just some people like it more than others. There’s something for everyone. As I say in the book, it’s a comedy–sci-fi–western–comedy–romance, and you don’t get many of those. I think most people find something in it they like. There are a few instances of bad language in there, but it very much appeals to all ages."

Melville, who also spent some time living in Inverness where his mother still stays, worked with the Screen Machine mobile theatre and is looking forward to showing the film at Eden Court this weekend.

"It was Paul Taylor, the Eden Court film programmer, who got in touch and asked if I would be up for screening the film and signing some copies of the book, so I’m quite excited about coming up," he said.

In the original film, the residents of the desert town of Perfection discover they are sharing their isolated valley with giant subterranean worm-like creatures with a taste for human flesh, and it is up to local handymen Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward to save their neighbours from the mysterious "graboids".

Jonathan Melville and Tremors star Michael Goss
Jonathan Melville and Tremors star Michael Goss

However, the lead role in the sequels was eventually taken over by Michael Goss, who plays gun-toting survivalist Burt Gummer. The only actor to appear in all five films and the 2003 television series, he even played Burt’s great-grandfather in prequel Tremors 4: The Legend Begins.

"The really positive thing about the films is that the original creators behind them stayed on for the sequels, so I think there’s a quality there and all the films fit closely together so you get all the references and the jokes," Melville said.

"Tremors 5, which just came out last month, is a different story because the original creators weren’t involved in that, and I think the difference in tone shows."

However, the big news for Tremors fans is that original star Bacon wants to bring the show back to television.

"It’s an interesting time to be a Tremors fan," Melville added.

Melville had always expected someone else to write a book about the franchise, but with the 25th anniversary approaching this year, he decided to write it himself, conducting most of his interviews with cast and crew via Skype from his home in Edinburgh.

"Everybody was really nice and really keen to talk," he said.

"Kevin Bacon was the tricky one. Different agents kept saying he wasn’t available or wouldn’t do an interview and then this March, one of his agents said ‘sure’. So I got to speak to him and he was really friendly.

"I ended up telling him some stories that he’d forgotten and he told me some things that I’d never heard.

"It was great to finally hear why he didn’t do the sequels and why he wanted to bring it back."

Although he was unable to contact Bacon’s co-star Ward, Melville was able to interview other key members of the cast, including Reba McEntire, who plays Burt’s wife Heather, but is better known as one of the biggest stars in country music.

"She was very happy to talk about the film," Melville said.

"When she made Tremors, she was earning millions from her tours and took a massive pay cut to make this little film in the desert. The first day on set, it snowed, so it would be freezing cold one day and really hot the next, but apparently she was a real trouper on set."

Writing the book has given Melville even more of an appreciation of the film and the work of the team behind it.

"One of the things that is not immediately obvious when you watch it, is how much model work is involved," Melville revealed.

"There is a memorable scene where Burt is in his basement with Heather and the graboid breaks through. When you watch that, there is a full sized graboid head that comes through the wall, but the rest of that scene is done in miniature and they had to recreate everything, including the Pepsi can.

"When you hear about that and watch the scene again, it adds to your enjoyment.

"I don’t know how many times I’ve watched the first film – maybe 60 or 70 – and I still enjoy it. Sometimes it will come on the TV and I’ll maybe avoid it because I have watched it so many times, but I’m certainly not bored of it. It’s so watchable and just a really well made film."

• Jonathan Melville will attend Eden Court cinema’s screening of Tremors (certificate 12A) at 7.30pm on Saturday.

Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors by Jonathan Melville is published by Fountainbridge Press.


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