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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!
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