- General Questions about Tremors
- Tremors 2
- Tremors 3
- Tremors 4
- Tremors 5
- Tremors The Series
- Miscellaneous Questions
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Note about Tremors 5 and Tremors 6 questions:
Stampede did not work on Tremors 5 in any way so we have NO information about it or Universal’s plans for future Tremors movies. All questions about those topics should be sent to Universal Studios.
General Questions about Tremors
Well, we don’t really know. But it’s definitely many miles long, say 30-50 miles, and several miles wide. Some more hints about the size will appear in Tremors 4.
Some of you have noticed that certain things about Burt’s basement bunker changed between Tremors 3 and the TV series. You are correct and, as usual, very observant. Let’s back up to the beginning.
Tremors 1 – Basement has no safe room or shooting range. Entrance stairs briefly glimpsed on wall adjacent to the wall the Graboid comes through.
Tremors 2. Our production designer Ivo Cristante, duplicated the T-1 basement – with some deliberate differences. For example, he put a repaired section of wall to indicate where the Graboid came through in Tremors 1, although, if you analyze it, you realize it appears to be the wrong wall. In Tremors 1 the Graboid came through the wall opposite the gun wall. Here, the patched area is in the wall next to the gun wall. Okay, we’ll say Burt decided to move his gun wall during the repairs. He also moved his reloading equipment and added wood paneling to the wall behind his easy chair, perhaps to make room for mounting his stuffed Graboid trophy head. He also put up all his other hunting trophies.
We didn’t see the stairs, shooting range, or safe room, but we can assume they were on the unseen fourth wall.
Tremors 3. We see the wall we didn’t see in Tremors 2, revealing the safe room, stairs, and shooting range for the first time. The gun wall, repaired wall, and wood-paneled wall are oriented the same as in Tremors 2, but Burt seems to have become more PC and removed all his hunting trophies.
Tremors – The Series. As fans have noted, the entrance stairs are not in the same position. They’re now across from, instead of next to, the safe room. The reasons had mostly to do with differences in building sets for television versus for movies. But one fan has proposed that when Burt rebuilt his bunker after it was blown up in T-3, he moved the stairs to the opposite wall from the safe room. Hey, we buy that! Seems like something Burt would do. He situated the stairs to give himself a better field of fire toward the compound entrance. You know how Burt likes a good field of fire.
Also he replaced the Tremors 3 “drawbridge style” safe room door with the sliding door because it was simpler, more reliable, and took up less room. Finally, it’s been suggested that his firing range is in a different position in the series than in Tremors 3. But we think it’s in the same place, relative to the safe room. Are we wrong? Heaven knows we’ve been wrong before.
Now, a question for you observant fans, have any of you noticed what’s different about Chang’s market in the series?
Well, our idea way back in T-1 was that, before moving to Perfection, Burt and Heather worked hard, both made good money, and were shrewd investors. Their fear of impending World War III caused them to retire early and move to the valley for it’s desirable “geographic isolation” as Burt says in T-1. The capital outlay for firearms, fuel and water storage, etc, was large, but upkeep, taxes, and expenses would thereafter be low way out in the boonies. Since then, of course, in T-2, Burt made a lot of money killing graboids, and even more killing shriekers in T-3, so he’s pretty well set financially. In T-4, we lay groundwork for the possibility that he also inherited money from Hiram Gummer’s silver mine.
Guess they have to ride the school bus to Bixby. We should’ve put a school bus full of endangered kids in T-1 or T-3!
Graboids are neither girls nor boys. They are hermaphroditic. That means they have characteristics of both sexes and don’t reproduce in the normal male-female way of most creatures on earth.
Okay, some of you say it’s north-south, and some of you say it’s east-west. We think it’s north-south. Here’s why. First of all, that’s the way the original town was built in the Lone Pine area. Chang’s Market was on the west side of the street. North was toward Nestor’s trailer (Nestor was the guy pulled through the spare tire.)
That having been said, what does reality have to do with anything? Burt points out in Tremors 1 that there are cliffs to the north (the ones through which Val stampedes the last Graboid) and mountains to the east and west. What we meant was the north end of the valley ended in cliffs and the other got narrower and narrower as the road wound toward Bixby. S.S. Wilson proposes that the obviously non-standardized map to which Val refers is not oriented east-west, but oriented to make the long valley easier to display on a wall, with Perfection at the South (right-hand) side. In movie-reality, Chang’s then ends up on the East side of the main street.
The clincher in our argument comes in Tremors 3. Burt refers to geologic survey maps in discussing the path of the current crop of Graboids. Using his laser pointer, he says, “They’re moving down from the north, just like last time. Jasmer quadrangle straight down to Calypso quadrangle. So clearly, Perfection Valley runs north-south. Also on the map for those into topographic symbols, slopes are indicated on the east and west sides.
We have adhered to this north-south orientation in Tremors 4.
Michael’s TV show, Family Ties, was very big at the time. The studio heads said we should read him because he was such a well known star. We were doubtful, since his character on the show couldn’t have been more different from Burt, nor is Michael at all like Burt in person! Little did we realize what a chameleon-like actor Michael is. Well, he blew us away when he came in to read, and we’ve benefited from the association ever since. BTW, any of you nitpickers notice Burt’s name is misspelled in the T-3 trailer?
We get a lot of fans asking why they can’t buy rubber Graboids and Val and Earl action figures or video games. Some of you have even offered to help design or even manufacture them. Others have helpfully suggested lower-budget ways they could be produced. Still another asked if we just had a small leftover graboid in “hardened clay” he could buy. (Sorry, the graboids were constructed full size; the clay versions are gone, and the casting molds are huge. Even the ¼ scale graboids are pretty big.)
In answer: we wish we could get Universal to think like our fans! You have to believe us when we say we’re just as frustrated as you are. We don’t control the Tremors “franchise.” Universal Pictures has the final say over all marketing and merchandising. I hear from sources inside Universal that the various marketing departments are expressing increased interest in our “franchise.” In English, that means they’re recognizing that there are a lot of Tremors fans out there. Nothing is definite, but here are some of the things that are being considered at Universal: Toys, action figures, collectibles and video games. The Tremors series is being considered for promotion in these areas, and deals may be discussed with toy companies, game designers, etc.
Universal is also planning some fun stuff for the official Universal Tremors 3 website, which should be up soon. They might give away props or other collectibles from Tremors 3. So be sure to watch for that site. And feel free to e-mail Universal directly with your thoughts and wishes. Show’em you care! Tell’em what you want!
May 2010 update: Obviously this did not happen. We understand that some Tremors 4 props were sold on e-bay, notably Hiram’s bicycle, but have no more information than that.
From time to time fans point out similarities between the Tremors monsters and other monsters they’ve seen in the fantasy-SF universe. Such coincidences are inevitable, but we did not work from any pre-existing ideas or artwork in creating the monsters. For Tremors, the Graboids were roughly described in the script. Brent Maddock and I felt that anything moving through the ground would have to have a streamlined shape. I had a desire that the mouth be really unusual and “open like a flower.” Since earthworms move in part by bracing themselves with stiff backward-facing hairs, we added the concept of the spikes on the sides of the creatures. From those sketchy descriptions, Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis created the initial concepts which became the Graboids. Woodruff and Gillis have an extensive knowledge of the animal world and incorporated many real-world details into the final wonderful design they executed.
I came up with the idea of graboids turning into smaller monsters (instead of bigger) while driving in the desert on a trip. For the Shriekers, we knew that we wanted bi-peds, the heat-seeker organ, and the same fantastic mouth design. Here again, Woodruff and Gillis brought us many sketches and concepts. The whole production team — including Maddock, Wilson, Chris DeFaria, and Nancy Roberts had input on the final look. After the movie came out, one fan wrote to say the Shriekers looked very much like a bi-pedal creature drawn by a well-known SF artist, but here again, this was just a coincidence.
For a more in-depth look at the world of monster design enter the world of Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis by visiting The Monster Makers web site!
I had a job working as an editor at a navy base in the middle of the Mojave Desert. On weekends, when they weren’t shooting at the gunnery ranges, I was allowed to go hiking out there. One day when climbing over large boulders exactly like those in Tremors, off of which the people pole vault, I had a thought. “What if something was under the ground and I couldn’t get off this rock?” I wrote that thought down on a scrap of note paper and filed it away. That scrap of paper sat in a file folder for a number of years and was resurrected after Brent and I sold Short Circuit. Nancy Roberts, then our agent, told us “Now for the fun part. Get out all those old ideas”, So we did. And one of the ones she liked the best was this note that eventually became Tremors.
Tremors was filmed in Lone Pine, CA. The snowcapped mountains behind Perfection are the Seirras. The large dry lake visible in a few shots in the climax is Owens Dry Lake. Tremors 2 and 3 were shot on several locations near Valencia, California, just north of Los Angeles. We could not afford to go back to Lone Pine where we shot Tremors 1. One location on Tremors 3 is the same one we used in Tremors 2. Can you spot it? It looks very different because we were shooting in fall instead of spring.
Only sagebrush and Josuha trees. The original town was torn down soon after production. The local people contributed labor in return for getting to use the lumber, etc. Even the fake rocks we built (for the pole vaulting scene and climax) are gone. However, Lone Pine is a beautiful place to visit and a zillion other famous movies have been shot there. As for the other films: the Tremors 2 oil field office location was torn down. We thought the Chang’s Market built for Tremors 3 was going to survive. It was bought by a movie ranch and rebuilt on their land, but we’ve since been told it was later destroyed by fire. Oh well.
The guys at ADI have a whole range of things they use, depending on how close the shot is and what we want the audience to feel or learn from the shot. The most common items are pieces of foam rubber, nylon stockings (they make good intestines) filled with various things. Sometimes they use food products like canned pumpkin. All of these things get mixed with their graboid blood formula developed specially for Tremors.
No one has ever been seriously hurt during a stunt or during a shot. A stuntwoman sprained her ankle leaping into the bucket of the bulldozer in Tremors 1. A crew member was in a car accident, but that was not on the set. We are extremely careful and make sure that everyone on the crew is constantly informed of the dangers. One thing we’ve always worried about is someone falling into the deep pits we must dig for the graboids. One the pits are covered they look just like natural ground. So we keep them roped off with construction cones and police tape until just before we’re ready for a shot.
Partly by tradition, most directors don’t do sequels to their own movies. Sequels usually have lower budgets (as was the case with Tremors 2 and 3) and if the first film was a hit, the director has many offers to do bigger movies (as Ron Underwood did after Tremors). All three directors of the Tremors films are part of Stampede Entertainment. It’s run by Nancy Roberts and her plan was to have all three of the original Tremors creators directing. That’s why Steve Wilson directed Tremors 2 and co-writer Brent Maddock directed Tremors 3. The execption is that Steve Wilson came back to direct Tremors 4.
In movie reality graboids are about thirty feet long and about five feet in diameter at their widest point. Amalgamated Dynamics has constructed only two of them full length (the one Val digs up in Tremors 1, which was only the top half lying on the dirt; and the split-open graboid in Tremors 2). The other times you see them full length, they are 1/4 scale miniature models made to look large. However, in the upcoming Tremors 3, we have an all new computer- generated graboid and he looks pretty darn cool in the tests we’ve seen so far!
Shriekers are about 3½ feet high and five feet long.
This is kind of a long answer, but hopefully some of you will find it interesting.
We had the longest time and the biggest budget (about 11 million) on Tremors 1. On Tremors 2 and Tremors 3, we’ve had much lower budgets and much less time, but we’ve also had the ability to do computer graphics which didn’t even exist when we did T-1! (Big expensive movies of course take much longer to make than ours do).
There are four main phases to making a movie:
First we have to write the script. It takes about three or four months to get it right. We always do many drafts, re-writing the script at least six or seven times, trying out different scenes, ideas, lines of dialogue, etc.
Next comes what’s called PRE-PRODUCTION – around three to five months. Pre-production is all the work we do to plan the actual filming of the movie. In pre-production we work with a growing staff of people designing costumes, designing and building monsters, designing and building sets, finding and buying props, cars and all the other things we’ll need. We cast the actors and hire the crew.
Next comes PRODUCTION, when the cameras start rolling. It’s the most expensive part of the process, because we have around a hundred people working 12 hour days. On Tremors 1 we shot for about 50 days. On Tremors 2 we had to shoot the same amount of action in only 28 days! On Tremors 3 we had only 24 days! We had to do it in less time to save money. It was hard, but we got it done.
Finally comes POST-PRODUCTION. On Tremors 3 we have about three and a half months. The director and film editor take all the film we shot and edit it together, picking the best takes of the action, trying different ways of cutting shots together. Then all the sounds effects are created. The music is written and recorded. Finally all the sounds and music are mixed together into one sound track and we’re ready to make prints videos, or DVD.
Okay, this answer may be longer than even die-hard Tremors fans want, but here goes.
In all honesty, there really is no answer. We’ve built Burt’s house four times, and never where it really is supposed to be relative to Perfection. So, instead of an answer, here’s another Burt bunker history.
Tremors 1. The exterior of Burt and Heather’s house was built many miles from the town location, because we did not have enough land at the town site. In reality the front door faced East. In reality, Heather looks off to the North when she trains her binoculars on the town. We used camera tricks to make it seem like you could see the town from Burt’s and vice versa.
When Val and Earl look off toward Burt’s from Chang’s roof, we did the same camera tricks. In reality they are looking East, so those point-of-view shots of Burt’s make it look like the front door faces North (movie reality), unless you assume the sun behind Chang’s is rising, not setting, in which case Burt’s front door would face South. See what a can of worms you’ve opened with this question?
The interior of the basement was built on a sound stage. We have no idea which direction anything faced in the basement, because we never saw the upstairs entrance to it.
Tremors 2. We built only the interior of Burt’s basement, not the exterior, and we didn’t see the stairs, so, again, we have no idea which way the building is oriented in movie reality.
Tremors 3. Again, Burt’s exterior was built many miles from where the town was built. This time, in reality, the front door faced more or less North. The interior was built on stage, but again, we have no idea which direction the entrance stairs face relative to the outside.
Tremors: The Series. This is the only Tremors where the outside of Burt’s is actually connected visually to the inside. In reality, I’m pretty sure the entrance stairs faced generally North or Northwest; i.e., that’d be the direction you face as you go up the stairs.
So, depending on which Tremors you’d use as reference, Burt’s front door could face North, East or South. In the series, it’s pretty definite the entrance and the basement stairs face North. Is that all clear as mud?
BTW, for the series the exterior of Burt’s compound was built on a hill barely a hundred yards from the Mexico location town site. So now we had to use camera tricks to make it appear further away than it really was. Movies are so hard.
Underground, along with the fuel and water storage tanks.
Eight to ten feet.
No, sorry, we just made the name up out of thin air.
Yes they are. S.S. Wilson is a target shooter and weapons history buff. He insists on accuracy. Of course, we never use live ammunition on a movie set. Blanks only!
If Graboids are related to worms, and a Graboid were cut in half, could both halves live on and become two worms?
No, though people refer to Graboids as worms sometimes, they are in fact a totally unique life form unrelated to almost anything else on earth. They do not have the power to regenerate from severed body parts (luckily!). Dawn of the Dead — Graboids?
Okay, so a Graboid is like 30 feet long. How come the humps of dirt we see are only a few feet long?
This is due to the fact that the Graboid’s body is tapered toward the tail. As it echo-locates through the earth, only the hump of its back comes near enough the surface to create a visible mound of dirt.
Well, we’ve never gotten that question before. Certainly budget is always a difficult issue on Tremors movies, but somehow I don’t think we’d feel right charging a fan to be in one. We’ve talked in the past about having some sort of contest in which the winner would get a small part, but we never have time to set it up between the time Universal says “go” and the time they want the movie done.
An expected fan question: "Will there be a Tremors 5?" An unexpected fan question: "...don't you think a 5th movie is pushing the envelope just a little?"
Well, in the envelope or not, here’s where it stands: Brent Maddock and S.S Wilson are just finishing the script (March 2004). Whether it actually gets made depends, as always, on the success of Tremors 4. It’s hard for movie companies to stop making sequels if people keep buyin’em!
Okay, we give up; Universal and SciFi are never going to sell action figures. We want to build our own, but we need more info on the creatures!
We’ve gotten a lot of very specific questions on the dimensions and color of Graboids, Shriekers, ABs, and now Baby Graboids. Believe it or not, this sort of specific info quickly gets forgotten, even by the people who build the puppets. The creatures are now in storage and someone would have to drag them out to measure them. However, here are some size estimates which should be pretty close:
How big are adult Graboids?
They’re about 30 feet long, six feet in diameter at their widest part (a few feet behind the head). The massive jaws and side mandibles are about three feet long.
How big are baby Graboids?
In T-4 they’re five feet long. But they start out the size of their eggs, about a foot long. The head and beak pieces are each a little over a foot long. Also, the babies have spikes unlike those on adult Graboids. They are longest just behind the beak, six-eight inches, and get shorter toward the tail, down to two or three inches. Then there are two tail spikes about six inches long (kind of like the horns on the rear of a centipede). They grow very rapidly (in about three months) to adult size. Adult Graboids lose the tail and edge spikes, but grow many more small spikes overall, for better locomotion of their large bodies. They also shed the scale-like plates which protect a Baby G’s back.
How big are Shriekers?
They’re about four feet long and three feet high, with jaws pieces about one and a half feet long.
What are the specs on ABs?
They are just over six feet long, tip to tail, about three feet high, and have head and jaws about two feet long.
How big are the Graboid eggs in T-4? What color are they?
They’re about a foot long; a tad smaller than the ones made for T-3, due to some production issues. The color is pinkish white, but for a better look, check out the egg closeup we’ve added to the photo area.
What are the colors of the Tremors menagerie?
Here we suggest you just peruse the Stampede Photo Gallery for pictures. There are many good shots of the creatures. Many show the wonderful paint jobs by the creature FX artists. There are also people in some shots helps give you an idea of actual creature size. In addition to the main photo area, don’t forget to check Tremors 2 behind the scenes and the Tremors 3 Monster HQ for additional shots.
How come Graboids don't leave trails behind them like moles do when digging through the earth? They must displace more sand than a mole does?
Well, our opinion is that they do leave trails. But the trails are very subtle. Since Graboids frequent dry sandy soil, it tends to close in behind then after they pass. Most moles live in wetter climates, so the soil stays pushed up after they burrow underneath.
That is going to be revealed in Tremors 5, or here on the webite, sometime in the future if we we’re unable to make Tremors 5.
We never thought that a Graboid’s tentacles take in air. However, it’s possible. One does wonder how a large animal like that could breathe underground.
If you make Tremors 5, or more Tremors anything, would you consider casting actors who starred in some of the classic monster movies?
That’s a really great idea. However, until Tremors 4, we’ve had had very few characters, and no extras. The series would have been a great place to do that kind of casting — but we didn’t think of it!
No, it sometimes seems like they do, but they are controlled by the Graboid, like an octopus controls its tentacles.
No. The tentacles are for grasping, sensing very subtle vibrations and feeling around. However, they do have taste sensors inside the mouth-like jaws. So when a tentacle’s jaws close on something, the Graboid can quickly tell if the something is worth reeling in to eat.
Potentially it is the Shrieker stage. If Shriekers get enough food, they can reproduce so rapidly that even Burt would have a hard time stopping them.
As far as is known, this cannot happen, since the albino form of a Graboid cannot metamorphose into Shriekers. El Blanco, in Perfection Valley, is the only albino Graboid known to exist at present. However, it is unclear how he came into existence! Was it an albino Ass Blaster which laid his egg? We just don’t know at this time.
All the Tremors creatures are custom designed, sculpted, cast and painted by artists with a lot of experience. It’s pretty hard for the average fan to do all that. One way is to study books, articles and websites on special effects. Or go to special effects workshops at fantasy film conventions if you can. Fans have to figure out what materials they can afford and which ones they’re good a working with. For example, you might be able to make a Shrieker head from papier mache – if you’re pretty good at sculpting. I’m not. I need people from places like KNB and Amalgamated Dynamics.
It’s just because we started out writing typical characters of the southwest. But when we began the series we made sure to write a number of black characters into it.
Sorry to report there are no plans for any. The only Tremors Game is our Tremors 4 game DirtDragons.
Budget. I think we wrote a scene where Burt and Heather walked through their house and into their basement, but the scene was cut, and the set never built, because we had to save money everywhere we could.
Why can't a Shrieker's tongue grab things like the Graboids' tentacles? Why is it ABs have no tongue at all?
Well… ask mother nature. That’s just the way these creatures evolved. Shriekers use speed and numbers to hunt, so they don’t need grasping tentacles to hold prey. ABs use flight. Also, their mouths are much smaller and tentacle-tongues couldn’t hold anything very big.
In Tremors 1 the Graboid tongues don't seem able to climb rocks. But in Tremors 3 El Blancos's tongue climbs the rock to reach Burt why is that?
It may look different, but we didn’t change the rules. Honest. El Blanco’s tentacles were cast from the same molds as the original tentacles and are the same length. If you’re referring to the night scene in Tremors 3 when Burt is trapped with Miguel, what makes it look different is that they are on a much lower rock than the ones we had in Tremors 1. Since the rock is lower, El Blanco was able to reach further up.
You guys¸ you know how long ago this was? Well, okay, S.S. Wilson contacted Production Designer Ivo Cristante, who fortunately has an amazing memory for practically every set he’s ever designed and built. Ivo is pretty sure Chang’s store was 60 feet (along the front) by 30 feet deep. The ceiling was 12 feet (because it had to be high enough to do the action where Rhonda climbs on the shelves). There was a two foot tall parapet (“railing”) around the roof (so the top of the parapet is at 14 feet). On the front, the parapet is taller. It goes up in two steps to about 4½ feet (16½ total). You can get a sense of how tall the front parapet is when Val puts the radio on it to talk to Burt.
Yeah, we know. But the answer is always the same: Universal does not seem to be interested in pursuing those ideas.
We notice that when loading a weapon Burt often taps the magazine (box which holds the cartridges) against something, like against the stock or his hand, before inserting it. How come?
It’s a habit. Burt feels it “settles” the cartridges in the magazine, lining them up with bases all firmly to the rear, so that he’s less likely to have a feed problem, which would lead to a jam.
At the end of each movie, what do they do with all the dead Graboids, ABs, Shriekers, and "dirt dragons."
Okay, at the end of Tremors 4, the townsfolk went out and made sure all the dead Graboids were buried. They didn’t want anyone to know about them, as Hiram mentions.
At the end of Tremors 1, Rhonda LeBeck oversaw removal of the two least-damaged Graboids (the one that hit the flood channel wall and the one in Burt’s basement). They were taken to the college where she was studying, and preserved as well as possible. One ended up in the Smithsonian, believe it or not. The other was sold to a casino in Laughlin, Nevada (similar to the living AB at the end of Tremors 3) and it is not currently known what happened to it.
In Tremors 2, the government of Mexico had no interest in the historical or natural significance of the dead animals, and they were left to the buzzards. Burt, however, carted a number of pieces back to Jodi Chang in Perfection. She sold them off to the highest bidder.
After Tremors 3, a number of scientific institutions collected and studied the remains of Graboids, Shriekers, and ABs.
Since the goof with the number of Shriekers that come out of a Graboid, is it now 3-6 Shriekers equals one Graboid?
Yes. We adjusted their biology to fit the facts duly pointed out by the fans. However, another fan has proposed an explanation. I’d love to take credit for it, but the following is entirely a fan creation:
“So Graboids can produce anywhere from 3-6 Shriekers depending on certain factors physically for the Graboids and environmentally. Shriekers have to eat through the Graboid to get out right? But Shriekers Multiply when they eat. So is there a chance that there is only 3 Shriekers in a Graboid but depending on how much each one eats while escaping determines whether there is 3-6 in the end? So there only may be 3 in the beginning but when they come out there may be up to 6 or maybe they only eat a little each making a small opening to get out thus being only 3 in some cases?”
Do Graboids live in a pack type society? Is there an alpha Graboid, or are they normally solitary and just congregate near a food source? Would they ever fight over food and such?
Very little is known about adult Graboid society. They clearly communicate, at least to signal one another about food sources. And they cooperate (to dig the bulldozer trap in T-1). El Blanco has been recorded making a wide variety of clicking noises, and will rap his beak against rocks to make a hollow drumming sound, but no one knows what this means. Thus far Graboids have not been observed fighting. Since they do not mate, it is unlikely that they have any conflict over mating. But so much of what they do is hidden underground, who is to say at this point?
Great question. Absolutely yes. Graboids are unable to hunt during rain storms. Wish we’d have thought of it! It would have been a cool lucky escape for someone being tracked by a Graboid. BTW, scientists recently learned that rain is one of the loudest sounds underwater in the ocean.
Why don't I see the spikes that propel Graboids through the ground as much in T2, T3, and T4, as in T1?
Hmm. Well, they are there. The design of the Graboids did not change. In fact we thought the spikes on the mini-Graboids in T-4 were rather prominent. It may be that in Tremors 1 we made a point of shooting a close up of them. Also, in T-1, Val dug up the whole length of one, so we saw more of its body that we normally do.
Chang's Market. In the movies is seems to be rectangular, but in the series it looks square. Is it different in the series?
A number of design changes were made in the market to accommodate series style filming. Most notably, the front door was moved from the end of the building to the center. Space was also added in back to allow for Jodi’s living quarters. I don’t have any of the series store plans, so I can’t say for sure if these changes also made it more square.
Was it hard to get Michael Gross to return to play Burt throughout the films and series, and then Hiram for Tremors 4?
No. Each time an opportunity came up, we’d talk to Michael about it. We’d always try to add new dimensions to Burt’s character, so that Michael would have new subtleties to work on. It also helped that the movies are true continuations, so that Burt’s character always changed based on what happened in earlier films. Still, truth be told, toward the end Michael was getting a little tired of Burt. He once joked (we’re paraphrasing a bit from memory), “I’m very flattered that people keeping asking to see more of Burt, but let’s not keep doing this until they stop asking.” However, the opportunity to play Burt’s grandfather in Tremors 4 was exciting to him, since Hiram was really an entirely new character. He and SS Wilson had great fun discussing how Michael would bring Hiram to life; and great fun shooting Hiram’s scenes.
Where is Perfection Valley really supposed to be? In Tremors 1 and 3 as well as the series you say it is near Las Vegas, but in Tremors 4 you have it near Carson City.
Perfection is North West of Las Vegas, toward Carson City, but it’s not very near either one. Present day Perfection is nearest the town of Bixby (not a real place). In Tremors 4, we mentioned Carson City as the closest large town (but still a long ride), since we felt Bixby wouldn’t have existed yet.
How about Tremors as a cartoon series? After all, way back in 1990 they did Attack of the Killer Tomatoes as a cartoon.
- We never knew about that series (we were hard at work on Tremors 1).
- Very cool idea.
- See the several other places in the FAQ where we point out that fans are more creative the studio people.
- Same old same old: probably won’t happen.
I've been wanting to make a scale model of Chang's Market. I'm using the measurements that were given in the Tremors FAQ which indicate the building was rectangular. But in the series, the market looks square. Is it in fact rectangular in the movies and square in the series?
I’m not sure it was exactly square in the series, but, yes, the shape of the market was somewhat different. Also, the front door is in a different place. So to make a model, you kind of have to pick one or the other and go with that.
If Stampede Entertainment created the movies and the series, why does Universal and Sci-Fi Network own and control all the rights to Tremors, and not Stampede?
When you sell a screenplay (as we sold the original Tremors) you almost always have to sell all the rights with it in order to get a studio to buy it. Once that has been done, they own all the rights to anything ever done with it ever again, sequels, remakes, spin-off, the whole shootin’ match.
What is wrong with Universal? Why don’t they get it? Don’t the great reviews of the Tremors movies help Tremors 5? Can’t you somehow get the rights back from them? What if we got together a petition in support of T-5 with a zillion names on it? What if the fans all chipped in to pay for more Tremors?
Short answers: We don’t know. We don’t know. No. No. They’d ignore it. And it still wouldn’t help. However, we are deeply touched that several fans have, in various forms, proposed fan-financed Tremors movies. The harsh Hollywood reality is that studios almost never sell the rights to any material they own, even if they never do anything with it.
How come when we see just a a Graboid head pop up it can swallow a human whole, but when we see the whole body above ground the head looks like 3 times smaller?
We know what you mean. Looks weird to us, too, sometimes. But there’s no cheating on set. We used the same puppet(s) in all cases. It’s an illusion due to the fact that when closed, a Graboid’s 4-part beak is actually fairly small. But because it can open super wide, somehow the whole head looks bigger when upright and swallowing a person.
How fast can a Graboid travel in the ground. Many of my friends think it can travel about 40-50 mph. Is that right?
No, a Graboid can go faster than a human can run, but not much. They max out around 15-20 mph in good loose soil. A Graboid cannot not catch a car, dirtbike, or galloping horse.
A Graboid’s cylindrical shape has great strength to resist pressure (like a submarine does). Also, moving deep into earth is not quite the same as moving deep into water. Various things can mitigate the amount of force the dirt applies. Under the right soil conditions, a Graboid could theoretically go down several hundred feet. The real limit to a Graboid’s ability to “dive” is that, like a sea mammal, it has to surface every so often to breathe. It doesn’t have to actually break the surface because it can slowly pull air through a few inches of sand). We don’t know how long one can hold its breath.
If Shriekers and ABs have infrared “vision,” then how come the heat of the desert doesn't show up when you show the view from the creatures? You can see human's body heat, but you can't see any heat from the ground, hot metal, etc. Why is that?
Any animal learns to sort out the data it can sense from the “noise” of the environment. For clarity in the movies, we show the heat signature of a human as red against a non-red background. But what’s really happening is the Shrieker or AB is seeing the difference between the two temperatures. The creature is actually seeing infrared coming from both sources, but because the human is usually warmer than the desert background, the shape stands out. It would work on a 105 degree desert day, too, because the human would be cooler (giving off less heat) than the background and would still stand out. The only time the creature might have trouble would be on a day when it was exactly 96 degrees and humans were neither hotter nor cooler that the surrounding objects.
Do the Tremors creatures change in order to pursue specific prey, i.e. Graboids go after larger animals while ABs go after prey that climbs or flies?
It does not appear so. The metamorphoses seen so far don’t seem to be in response to the availability of different prey. Rather they seem to be normal life-cycle events triggered by unknown circumstances. However, given that the species is extremely ancient, it is certainly logical to assume each of the various forms serve some valuable purpose toward sustaining the species as a whole. For example, Rhonda LeBeck has proposed that, since ABs are able to fly, their purpose may be to carry eggs long distances in search of new, fertile hunting grounds for the Graboids which will hatch from their eggs.
Very science-oriented question! Given Graboids’ size, it is almost certain they can’t get all the liquid they need from prey alone. Prevailing theory is that they must obtain water below ground by burrowing down to the water table, perhaps excavating a cavity, and sucking up that water that collects in it.
Unfortunately, Tremors 1, 2, 3 and 4 were shot mostly on private land in Southern California. There is no access to the general public for most of the locations. A small exception is the area of large boulders seen in Tremors 1. If you drive the paved and dirt roads west of Lone Pine, CA, you will be in the general area where we shot the end of the movie. If you’re diligent, you’ll discover the narrow spot where the road workers were killed. Someone at the Lone Pine movie museum may be able to help you find that one.
I’m pretty sure the boulder where Val, Earl and Rhonda spent the night is a real one. But it’d be pretty difficult to figure out now, all these years later, which one it was. All I can say is it is probably near one of the dirt roads that go through the area. Maybe if you drove around with a frame-grab from the movie, and a really good eye for shapes…?
The rocks on which they did their pole vaulting were fake (built by our production designer’s team) and are no longer there).
If you drive the dirt roads east of Lone Pine, you will be in the general area where Val and Earl fell off their horses and where the Graboid crashed into the concrete drainage ditch wall. Nothing remains of the sets, and we have no records of the exact locations, so even we probably couldn’t these exact spots today.
The specific vibration of a Graboid’s movement through the earth is very distinctive and is easily recognized by other Graboids. Even though blind, they can readily tell friend from foe, or friend from prey.
This is really sort of an Alien vs Predator question. And we’re filmmakers, not paleontologists. But how’s this? If Tyrannosaurus was a fierce predator (as some think), he’d win. If he was a lazy scavenger (as others think), he’d lose. It’d be an interesting battle, though, since the Graboid could duck under ground when it needed to; and maybe could chomp the T-Rex’s leg and trip him.
No. Graboids are not aquatic. They are adapted to dry, loose soil.
I've been wanting to make a scale model of Chang's Market. I'm using the measurements that were given off the FAQ which shows the building as being rectangular. But when looking at a picture of the series market it looks square. I was wondering if in the movies Chang's is rectangular and in the series its square?
The market in the series is a different shape (yes, I think closer to square), and the entrance is in a different place from the movies’ store. They insisted we change the lay-out for the series to give directors more options for shooting people coming in and out week after week.
How long will Universal's copyright/trademark over Tremors remain in effect before it reverts to Stampede? Is there any chance the DVDs were released solely to retain ownership of the franchise?
I don’t know the full legal answer to this. Copyrights can be renewed by the original owners up to some maximum number of years. I imagine all studios cling to them as long as inhumanly possible. When you work in Hollywood, you have to assume you will never live long enough to regain control of your movies, since they will lapse into the public domain first.
What happened to the scripts/notes developed for the Val/Earl series, (pre Tremors 2), that weren't used for the Tremors 2003 Series? Does Stampede still own those?
Yes and no. We own them in the sense that nobody has paid us for them, but we can’t use them or sell them to anyone else because they are based on characters/material owned by Universal
Since T5 was axed (again), where do you see the town of perfection, and Burt now? What do you envision they have been doing for the past 6 years?
I like to think they’ve settled into a American small town routine. El Blanco patrols peacefully. There’s a steady, but not overwhelming stream of tourists to whom Jodi and Jack cater. Mindy stops in a few times a year to see her Mom. Burt still teaches survival skills and worries about the fate of the world. And even though a movie wasn’t made about it, he did have a hell of an adventure in Australia.
Have you ever thought about what ultimately might happen with Graboids in the Tremors universe? Would they fade away and stop hatching or would they rise up and overrun the Earth (or is that under run)?
We’ve always tried to treat the Graboids as real animals. So as such, they are actually quite rare and limited in habitat. So, contrary to over-running the world, they are more likely to go extinct. Even a major Shrieker outbreak is not going to be a global disaster, for when Shriekers got into an urban setting, or met up with the National Guard (or Burt), they wouldn’t last long.
Is Burt the last Gummer? Did you ever envision him having any siblings, or maybe a child grown up before Heather and Burt settled in Perfection?
No, we saw Burt and Heather as deliberately childless, given their grim view of the world’s future. I admit we never thought of a child grown up before their survivalist leanings took them to Perfection. It could lead to the complete reversal of Michael Gross and Michael J. Fox on Family Ties!
TREMORS THE MUSICAL?? My question might be unusual, but do you know who would hold the rights to a Tremors stage production? Does Universal own that with everything else?
Yes, Universal owns all rights to everything related to Tremors, so it would be them you’d have to talk to about doing a stage version. Good luck. 🙂
That’s kind of like asking, “Which is your favorite child?” I really do love all the Tremors movies equally for different reasons. Each time out we did our best to come up with stuff that was hopefully different from the usual sequel. And each time out we were very invested in making the best movie we could.
Why do the creatures on the posters/DVD covers look absolutely nothing like the actual creatures in the film? Is it to just make it look more eye catching on the poster? With the long fangs and dinosaur like look? Also, is the poster for the film meant to be a inspired by the Jaws poster? Was Jaws an influence on the film in any way? - NEW
Yes, all the Tremors posters are embarrassing. Here’s what happened. We convinced Universal’s marketing department that they should not show a Graboid on the poster because the movie had a really good surprise — the first-time audience really does think the monsters are the tentacles, the “snake things,” so the real Graboids are shocking when first revealed. Universal was not happy with that, but went along with it. Much to our horror, then, they came up with what you see, a tentacle made to look gigantic and with goofy shark teeth. The whole crew, especially the creature effects guys, was disappointed. But it became history. And it just kept getting worse with each movie, until you end up with the extra-bizarre critter on the boxed set of Tremors TV series, which even has an eye! And yes, our guess is the original was inspired by Jaws, though nobody ever admitted it.
Were we inspired by Jaws? Not exactly (even though early story outlines of Tremors were called “Land Shark”). We were inspired by 50s monster movies we loved as kids. Jaws is really a spin on those same movies, so you might say we all had the same inspiration.
What happens to El Blanco/graboids during a thunder storm? Does the thunder overload their senses? Are they smart enough to ignore thunder? Do they come up to the surface and just flop around all confused? Or chase it like a cat would with a laser pointer? if they hear a REALLY loud sound can graboids go deaf? - NEW
Graboids are not fooled by thunder. It is a natural event and they can easily differentiate it from the sounds that prey make. However, they are in effect “blinded” by heavy rain. The steady noise makes it nearly impossible for them to hunt, so they just go idle and wait it out. As to whether or not they can go deaf, you’ve touched on a point of contention among scientists. We aren’t really sure how Graboids “hear.” They do not seem to have ears or ear-drums, so some researchers speculate that they have some other mechanism for sensing vibration in the ground. My personal guess is that a very loud sound would not permanently impair a Graboid. In Tremors 1, Burt’s improvised explosives only drove them away, but they kept coming back.
Well, Tremors 1 was in some ways the most fun because we were finally getting to make one of our original ideas just the way we wanted to. Yeah, we were fighting crazy weather, budget, and the worry that we might screw it up, but we were in creative control! The later Tremors were fun in a different way, because we were more confident, but also harder because we had so much less money to make them. Really, because they were all well-planned, none was particularly harder or easier than another. And they were all fun to work on.
Uh — what? Okay, Graboids are seriously NOT political. Like, at all.
What were some changes made from the original scripts of the films. i.e. deleted characters, locations, scenes, name changes
All the Tremors scripts were write-to-shoot. That means, once we worked out the stories, we didn’t do a lot of extra writing or experimentation. We stuck to the stories and made the scripts as easy to produce as possible, including when we handed off the actual screenplay writing on T-3 and T-4. Probably the biggest change in any of the scripts is in Tremors 2. It was written to star Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, and to include Reba McIntire. When Kevin Bacon decided not to do the movie and Reba was not available, we had to do a pretty big re-write to invent the character of Grady and figure out the details of Burt’s separation from Heather.
Would it be possible to write a screenplay, and have universal look at it.? Or would it be illegal as the screenwriter would not have rights to the tremors franchise?
This question gets into areas of legality on which we can’t give advice. But the harder part would be getting Universal to look at it. You’d probably have to get a Hollywood agent to make an official submission to them.
Where do Graboids really come from? In Tremors 2, you say they found a fossil from millions of years ago, but you never explained more than that. In the Tremors TV Series, the "mix master" monsters had a similar look. Couldn't they related? Perhaps Graboids come from that military underground lab and they just read the date of the fossil wrong?
Well — NO! Graboids are an ancient life form. After all, they existed in the late 1800s, the time of Tremors 4. So they could not have come from the military lab that wasn’t even built until much later.
Why do you say Kevin Bacon hates Tremors? I've seen two interviews where he said he thought it was a good movie. There are even rumors he wants to do Tremors 6.
Kevin did not feel good about Tremors for many years. He felt it was a low point in his career. But you are correct that, recently, he has changed his mind. We are very glad about that, because we think he is absolutely great in our little movie.
Do you have any future involvement in the Tremors franchise, or the announced TV series with Kevin Bacon??
Not at this point.
We’re always trying to sell new ideas for movies and TV shows!
Why did Universal buy this movie series? Except for the very first one all others have gone directly to video/DVD, Is it that valuable? Isn't often true that big studios buy a film and the series is then gone forever because some idiot executive decides it is not worth continuing?
Universal didn’t “buy” the franchise. It has owned it from the beginning, when the first movie was made. Universal has always made all decisions on what new versions get made and how the property is marketed. Starting with Tremors 2, the studio felt the best place to make additional money with it was in direct-to-video.
Did Earl and Val have some sort of falling out between movies? Was Earl resentful of Val since he made money it seems? Were they still in contact?
We tried to hint at the answer in Tremors 2, when Earl says Val “married a good woman.” We don’t feel they had any sort of argument. Instead, Val went off to start a life with Rhonda. They could no longer be partners in the way they had been, so Earl took his portion of what money they made and invested in his ostrich ranch. We’ve always wanted to explore more of what Val and Rhonda did, but have never had the opportunity.
according to IMDB, Tremors cost 11 million and Tremors 2 4 million. Is this accurate? Also what were the budgets of Tremors 3 and 4?
Studios don’t like us to talk in detail about budgets. But those numbers are pretty close. Tremors 2, 3, and 4 had almost identical budgets and shooting times. Don’t know about Tremors 5, as we did not work on it.
Why is it in T1 Graboids would suck the trucks down and pop the tires - even when the engines were off.. but in T2 they hunt from earls truck and they never get bothered?
There are two parts to this. In Tremors 1, we don’t think a Graboid ever attacks a vehicle that isn’t making noise. For example, after saving Mindy, Val jumps on their truck, and that makes noise, so that’s why the Graboid attacks it. Later, at Burt and Heather’s, the Graboid doesn’t bother their SUV until the creatures bumps it accidentally, causing the car alarm to go off. In Tremors 2, we tried to make the point that Earl, Grady and Burt have Graboid tracking devices in their vehicles. They are deliberately making noise to attract the monsters. So our logic was, any time they saw the signal of a Graobid, they’d stop the truck so it would remain safe, then use their remote control bait-bombs.
We’re not sure why these creatures would do such a thing, since they are all members of the same cooperative species. But, that said, it doesn’t seem like a Shrieker or and AB would have any chance against a full-sized Graboid. It would swallow them in one gulp. An AB could probably take out a Shrieker, though.
We get this a lot. It’s bittersweet, since, yes we know it and, no we do not control the franchise. We have no say in how Universal studios handles marketing and product licensing. Fans have had many great ideas for products. Here’s a couple of the more elaborate ones:
“a table centerpiece, rectangle in shape, featuring the creature shapes in order, one after the other… egg, baby graboid, adult graboid, shrieker, ass blaster & back to egg… in their habitats. For instance, an egg shell in “water” as in T4, a baby graboid on sandy “soil” as it starts to disappear, adult graboid head as it rises up from the dirt, etc.”
“an AB that really blasts fire!” (Admittedly, there are probably liability issues with that one).
Can we have all generations of graboid in one film? That is, can we have a fight to the death between all generations?
There seems to be a theme in the current batch of fan questions: a desire to see Graboids, Shriekers, ABs and, I guess, even Mini-graboids in some sort of all-out battle. Frankly, we don’t see why such a battle as being likely, given the rules of the Tremors world. But perhaps one of you would like to tackle it in fan fiction? Maybe you could show us how or why it might happen!
There was a question about the Tremors 1 blown-up Graboids’ insides looking like eggs, but you answered that they are not eggs, and that Graboids don’t lay eggs. Well, what about the eggs in Tremors 4 that Graboids hatch from?
Ah, but the eggs in Tremors 4 were laid by AssBlasters, not Graboids. You have to watch ALL the movies to learn the whole complicated life cycle. Most of it happens via metamorphosis – like when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Graboids metamorphose into Shriekers. Shriekers make more Shriekers hermaphroditically (there are egg-like sacs inside Shriekers, but they don’t lay them). Later, Shriekers metamorphose into AssBlasters. It is only AssBlasters that lay eggs — one egg each. Those eggs, if kept warm enough, hatch into baby Graboids, and the process starts over. We just didn’t see the AssBlaster in Tremors 4. In fact, we’re not sure how long AssBlaster eggs can lay dormant. It may be a really long time.
Can you set up a petition for fans to convince Universal to lend creative control back to Stampede?
We always appreciate these kinds thoughts. But it would not change the minds of the powers at Universal. Tremors 5 made enough money that they are already working on Tremors 6. Without us.
Why did the graboids in Tremors eat parts of people then leave the other parts behind? But in Tremors 2 and Tremors 3 they swallowed people whole?
Graboids are individuals with different preferences. Some are picky eaters. Some wolf their meals. Also, if a person’s arm happens to come off while being swallowed, the Graboid might necessarily know it, and would have a hard time finding it after the fact (as it will be making no noise).
The other answer is that in T2 and T3 we had better Graboid moving special effects rigs that could raise them up and down much faster, so it was exciting to for us to get to lift one up with a whole person actually riding with it.
Ummm, we don’t think we’ve ever said that Graboids have acids in their blood or saliva. They’re not like the Alien, after all. Fans, are we wrong on this one?
We are embarrassed to admit, no! It never has. And it’s a great idea!
“Life form! Subterranean! Tracking me acoustically! Danger! No disassemble!”
Would you consider, and did you intend, the Tremors franchise to be your magnum opus; or did it just end up becoming something more throughout the years?
It became something more — all because of the fans. Tremors 1 was considered a failure until fans made it a huge success in the then-new video market. It took years for Tremors 2 to develop such a following that the studio wanted Tremors 3. Even then, they told us Tremors 3 would definitely be the last one. But the fans kept renting/buying, so the studio decided to go for 4 and the series at almost the same time. Tremors has a life of its own, thanks to all of you.
I'm sure you're disappointed in "Tremors" moving on without Stampede, and not having ownership of the franchise anymore, but are any of you bitter about any of this?
Disappointed, frustrated, yes, but not bitter. You shouldn’t be in screenwriting if you can’t accept that studios own your work outright and are going to do whatever they want with it. Just gotta move on to the next.