Tremors 2: Aftershocks

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Trailer - Tremors (1.85:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0)
Trailer - Tremors 2 (1.78:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0)
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes)
Year Released 1995
Running Time 95:23 Minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (45:07)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Menu
Region 2,4 Director S.S. Wilson
Universal.gif (3614 bytes)
Universal Home Video
Starring Fred Ward
Christopher Gartin
Helen Shaver
Michael Gross
Marcelo Tubert
Marco Hernandez
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Jay Ferguson
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    In spite of the somewhat lukewarm reception that Tremors received at the theatres, a bean-counter in the studio decided that a sequel was warranted. Of course, when it was taken into account that the original film almost died at the box office but thrived on home video, it should come as no surprise that the same accountants decided that Tremors 2: Aftershocks should be a direct-to-video release. Of course, as with all direct-to-video releases, the studio must have allocated less than half the funding, which shows in the quality of the script and most of the acting. Still, they managed to retain two of the stars from the previous outing, with Fred Ward and Michael Gross happily returning for more B-grade worm-shooting action. Kevin Bacon, on the other hand, had moved onto bigger and better things such as Murder In The First and The River Wild, leaving the producers without their biggest box-office draw. Still, if you want to be fair about judging a film, then it is a requirement to judge the film on its own merit rather than comparing it to the cult classic that it follows on from. Unfortunately, when one considers certain aspects of this script and cast, one soon realizes that this particular film has little merit of its own, and comparisons with the original become unavoidable.

    Still, when trying to apply some kind of judgement to this sequel, the best place to start is with the characters, which were the best thing about the first episode. This sequel begins a few years after the original film, with an opening shot of an oil refinery in Mexico that has been chosen as a feeding place by the overgrown worms. We then cut to Perfection, Nevada, where Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) is the only remaining citizen who hasn't made a profit from the events of Tremors, mostly through placing his trust in the wrong people. He is visited by Ortega (Marcelo Tubert), a representative of the company that owns the oil refinery, and a hyperactive adolescent by the name of Grady Hoover (Christopher Gartin). I have to make this perfectly clear: Christopher Gartin is a very poor substitute for Kevin Bacon, which especially wounds the film as the interaction between Bacon and Ward was one of the most amusing things about the original. As a matter of fact, this substitute is quite annoying, making the film more unpleasant than it really ought to be. In the end, when you strip away all of the improved special effects and CGI sequences, what really counts is a story that is moved along by interactions between the human characters, and Tremors 2: Aftershocks fails on that count.

    Anyway, once Earl and Grady arrive at the refinery and the base that the company has set up to deal with the invading organisms, they are introduced to a few new faces, most of which are little of an improvement over Grady. Among the new faces are a new scientist named Kate Reilly (Helen Shaver), who seems to have done enough research on the mutated organisms to date them back to the Precambrian era. Of course, Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) has nothing better to do but return since irreconcilable differences have left him divorced and without any company in his survivalist shack. So, once the tattered remnants of the original cast are united with the new cast, things are set for some massive explosions and subterranean terrors to strike. This where I will leave the plot synopsis as I don't want to spoil what few surprises this sequel has for those who have watched the original. If you're wondering whether this film warrants a second look, then the answer is a big "maybe", but as a continuation of a cult classic tribute to the B-grade schlock of an era thankfully left behind, Tremors 2 is left behind in the dust. Buy the original first, because you'd have to be pretty mad about it to tolerate some of the negatives of this sequel.

Transfer Quality


    In contrast to the original Tremors, this sequel is distributed by Universal Pictures Home Video rather than Columbia Tristar. While the two transfers are of very good quality overall, this one is the better of the two for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that the transfer is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The amount of difference this makes to a film is not to be taken lightly, as the wider aspect ratio of the medium results in a noticeable superiority where detail is concerned. Additionally, the transfer is razor-sharp throughout, with no blurring or pixelization apparent at any time. Low-level noise is also absent from this transfer, as is film grain.

    The colour saturation of this transfer is a little odd, not because of any errors, but because the scenes that were set in Mexico obviously weren't filmed in Mexico. I've seen a number of photographs and films that were shot in this country that is, technically speaking, actually part of North America, and none of them have anywhere near as much greenery or luscious shades of any colour other than red in them. Still, the transfer accurately represents the area where the film was actually shot (Valencia, California), so no complaints there.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem for this transfer, with no macro-blocking or posterization apparent at any time. Film-to-video artefacts didn't seem to be any real problem for this transfer, either, with plenty of car grilles and tin shacks being represented without a single memorable instance of shimmer. One or two minor instances may have escaped my attention, but the operative words in this case are "one or two", probably even less. Film artefacts, however, are a slight problem for the transfer, with the occasional moderate burst of black marks appearing in the picture every fifteen minutes. Overall, however, this transfer is as accurate a representation of the film as one can reasonably ask for.

    This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 45:07. This is in a natural break during the middle of a conversation, so it is not too badly placed even if it is noticeable.


    Once again, the packaging states erroneously that all of the soundtracks on this disc are stereo. In reality, the first three of the five soundtracks on this disc are surround-encoded. In order, we have the original English dialogue, and dubs in French and German, all encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding. Rounding out the selection of soundtracks are dubs in Italian and Spanish, both of which are in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. I listened to the default English soundtrack without comparing any of the dubs.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, and there were no perceptible problems with audio sync at any time.

    The score music by Jay Ferguson left little real impression upon me. This is not to say it isn't good, because it matches the onscreen action quite well, it just doesn't leave much of an impression. Much of the score sounds as if it was recorded using a simple synthesizer setup, and the film itself doesn't leave much for the composer to base themes upon, making this score as good as can be expected.

    The surround channels were used variably to support the music and special effects. During some dialogue sequences, the surround channels stopped making sounds altogether, making me wonder if the speakers were actually working. Having confirmed that my speakers were actually working, I repeated some of the dialogue passages to find that they had practically collapsed into an almost monaural field. When the surround channels were active, however, they supported the film quite well, creating a sound field that enhanced the action sequences. The subwoofer was frequently active, supporting the explosions and the growls of the creatures without calling specific attention to itself.



    The menu is static, but 16x9 Enhanced. Although the absence of audio and animation is somewhat disappointing, it is easily made up for by the lack of those awful icons that taint the menus of all Universal films that are distributed by Columbia Tristar.

Theatrical Trailer - Tremors (1:47)

    A two-minute trailer in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The video quality is somewhat on the worn side, and the audio sounds as if it has been altered in pitch, but overall, the presentation is acceptable.

Trailer - Tremors 2 (1:52)

    A two minute trailer that is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, also with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The video and audio quality of this trailer is basically equivalent to that of the main feature.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     There's no way that a set of production notes can make up for a 16x9 transfer. The local version of this disc is definitely the best choice.


    Tremors 2: Aftershocks is a disappointing follow-up to a hilarious tribute to the 1950s creature horror films where cheese was the main ingredient. It is presented on a very good DVD.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are passable.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
November 30, 2000 
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer