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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.
Questions about Tremors 4
If Tremors 4 takes place in 1889 (and it’s in Perfection) why does the Perfection town sign in the opening sequence of Tremors 3 say the town was founded in 1902?
We thought it would be cool for the prequel to take place exactly 100 years before we shot Tremors 1 (1989). And we knew you’d demand an explanation. After the end of T-4, Hiram and Christine settled in Hiram’s new house. He eventually became an excellent marksman and they lived well on the proceeds from the silver mine (some of which Burt inherited). Later, when it came time to incorporate the town, Nevada bureaucrats decided that, even though people had lived there since 1889, they’d make the official founding date 1902, the year of incorporation Hiram objected, but was overruled. He was so angry that he and Christine pulled up stakes and moved to San Francisco, never to return. Thus began the generations-long Gummer distrust of Big Government.
We don’t know exactly when Black Hand was born, but we think he was around fifty when he met his fate in the gaping maw of a Graboid.
This was a place where mule teams were changed on the heavy ore and equipment wagons going to and from the mines. One set of animals couldn’t make the long trips, so the station was set up at a half way point — an old West gas station.
The town was built on the Polsa Rolsa Ranch in Acton, CA. It was torn down immediately after shooting wrapped – the sad fate of all Perfections. We also shot the camp site and hot spring scenes on that land.
The mine (interior and exterior) was the famous Bronson Cave in Hollywood where zillions of movies have been shot. We had to add some fake walls inside the real mine to make it smaller and more claustrophobic.
Carson City was Calico Ghost town, near Barstow, CA. This is also where we shot most of the wide Western vistas of various characters riding their horses, as well as Hiram returning in the wagon.
The muling station (interior and exterior) was an existing barn we found on the Valuzet movie ranch, north of Los Angeles. We modified the barn to fit our story’s needs.
Long time fans and readers of the FAQ know the answer: Of course not. It’s not big enough business for Universal to bother with. However, keep checking the Stampede site. We may be able to pull something off like we did for Tremors 1.
We shot it in 25 days. The budget was under 5 million dollars. Only a very creative hardworking crew makes it possible to get this quality on that budget.
Hmm… actually we don’t think they are. In fact, we made the Graboids in T-4 smart because many fans had written saying that they liked how the Graboids in T-1 learned things and changed their behavior, and they didn’t see as much of that in T-2 or T-3. So we made sure to add “smartness moments” into T-4. We didn’t mean to make them smarter, but maybe it seems that way. Maybe modern day Graboids are adversely affected by environmental pollution which wasn’t present in the Old West?
Did you cast a red-head as Christine on purpose? Does she indicate a male Gummer predilection for red-heads like Heather (Reba McEntire) in T-1?
In truth it was a lucky accident. Sara Botsford, who happens to be a natural red-head, gave a marvelous reading for a role on the TV series. As soon as we got the green light for T-4 we knew she would be a perfect Christine. We never read anyone else for the part.
I’m not quite sure what this means. The Graboid puppets technically are not animatronic. They are not controlled by computers or motors, but by people power, using cables. The full scale Graboid for Tremors 4 was mounted on a new rig built by KNB FX which gave us greater mobility than we’ve had in the past. We do feel that such a large creature shouldn’t move too quickly, or it would start look fake. Maybe that’s why it looks slow to some people.
You know what? In the rush to get T-4 done, we never came up with one. If only we could’ve asked Walter Chang. But one fan has suggested “Grablits.” What do you think? Hop over to Stampede FanTalk and let us know.
Because we thought you’d all get a kick out of it! We put as many “in jokes” in T-4 as we could, without breaking the rules we’ve set up or making it silly.
You guys are relentless. Well, the cynical answer is, “Because we couldn’t afford less.” The Los Angeles area locations in which we shot T-2 and T-3 were not available for T-4. We investigated shooting the whole movie out in the real desert (like Lone Pine, where we shot Tremors 1), but the budget would not allow it. So we had to find new land close to LA. The Polsa Rolsa ranch we selected has a lot more vegetation than even the ranch we used in T-2 — so that’s why.
However, a kindly fan has provided a different (and less cynical) answer below:
It could be as simple as a geological shift. We know there are hot springs in the area, as well as many interesting geological hiccups and burps that the geology students were studying in modern day. A slight shift could lower the water table in the Perfection area, thus leaving modern day Perfection much drier than it was 100 years ago!
Juan (Brent Roam) is an ancestor of Miguel (Tony Genaro) in Tremors 1. Miguel’s family inherited the cattle ranch that Juan dreamed of building, and finally did build after the end of Tremors 4.
Unfortunately (like so many other merchandise-related things) Universal no longer makes posters for video stores any more. So they don’t exist.
It doesn’t look like there are enough telegraph poles leading away from town. It looks like they just stop. What gives?
This is where the reality of a location and the reality of what you actually film bites you in the butt. In real-world reality there was a very steep drop-off just beyond the edge of town. When the stage coach and Hiram’s wagon enter town, they are driving along the edge of it; which is why they don’t just come straight into town. When we chose the location, we thought, “Great, we don’t have to use many telegraph poles because they’ll just disappear down in the valley below the drop off.” In fact, on film, you can’t really tell the valley is there, hence, it looks like the poles just stop short. Our bad.
Hiram settles in Perfection Valley as a result of having to deal with his silver mine. Yet in T-1 Burt says he came for “geographic isolation.” Has Burt’s family always lived there?
No, Hiram and Christine eventually left (see the question about the town’s founding date) and no Gummers lived in the Valley until Burt and Heather returned. As they became more extreme survivalists during the Cold War (see your history books) they decided to move to a truly isolated place. Burt was aware of his great-grandfather’s roots in the valley, so he and Heather investigated it among others. It proved perfect for their needs. They actually re-acquired the land on which Hiram built his original house, and that is where Burt’s house, or at least his basement, stands today.
You’re right. Universal feels Tremors sells itself, so they do next to nothing. That’s one reason it’s so hard to find Tremors 4, even now.
Here’s one from our loyal fans in the United Kingdom: Why are none of the special features we’ve being hearing about on the Tremors 4 DVD on the version being sold in England?
Fans in the U.S., count yourselves lucky. We have called and emailed Universal for weeks trying to confirm they did not put the special features on Tremors 4 DVDs for UK, but have had no reply. If it is true, it’s really an insult to that part of the DVD audience. We busted out butts to make the special features for Tremors 4 the best since the Tremors 1 collector’s edition. We’re very sorry our UK fans aren’t getting to see them!
You mean in like miles per hour? We’re not exactly sure. What we wrote in the script was that they leap like salmon. Maybe 30 mph?
Yes, but they are rudimentary and non-functioning, just a small “bud” at the back of the throat. KNB actually made them part of the mini-Graboids they built, but you can’t see them in the film. The bud expands into full fledged tentacles as the animal grows to full size.
Were there any problems with the weapons in T4? Did the actors have any trouble handling or using them?
For the most part, our actors had no trouble with the T-4 firearms. Sarah Botsford had a little difficulty getting the Gatling Gun loaded, (you can see that in the DVD gag reel). All the weapons, including the vintage Gatling gun, performed flawlessly.
He’s not, at least not as far as we know. We figured there must be some people who were not ancestors of our Tremors 1 townsfolk.
When the Graboid attacks Tecopa, the dirt on top of its head first moves backward. But when the creature goes back into the ground, the dirt moves up its head. Did you guys reverse the footage?
Yes, you caught us again. That was the first Graboid sequence we shot after finding out we couldn’t dig Graboid holes on our location, so we were scrambling to find ways to make it look like they came out of the ground and went back in. It was the best we could do under the circumstances.
Come on, think about it! It was BURT! We felt that Hiram should meet someone who would put him, and future Gummers, on the path of rugged, independent, slightly paranoid survivalists. Writer Scott Buck took that idea and expanded it into Black Hand. Actor Billy Drago brought his own special touches to the character.
No, no, no. The bullets are never real in Hollywood. At least almost never. They were special blanks made to work in that beautiful 100 year old gun.
S.S. Wilson’s original research found punt guns with bores as large as 1.5 inches so in keeping with true Burt philosophy he designed the Tremors 4 punt gun to have a larger two inch bore. Tremors fan Christian Willis researched this topic further and found that according to the Gun Barrel Proof Act of 1868, the largest size is, “A Gauge”, which is in fact a two inch bore. The Tremors 4 Punt gun does appear to be historically accurate!
Here’s all the info courtesy of T-4 Propmaster, Bill Davis. The gun itself features an internally mounted H&R 12 gague single shot shotgun. The entire trigger assembly drops down to permit reloading. The total weight of the gun is 94 pounds. The overall length of the gun is 8 feet 4 inches. We used triple loaded blanks on the set as well as spraying WD-40 in the barrel to produce extra smoke.
Actually they do have spikes, but only along the edge, (look closely at the one Juan kills with his pick axe). The bigger Graboids need more spikes to move their large mass through the dirt.
When the Graboid comes up under Juan in the telegraph room, it looks like he is floating in mid-air for a second. Did he snag the safety harness or something?
Sort of. That was a very complicated shot, and we only had one chance to get it right. We duplicated the entire telegraph room on top of two steel shipping containers (the big ones they put on ships) so we’d have space to work underneath. The entire floor was made of super delicate balsa wood. You couldn’t stand on it. You could barely touch it and it would break. So we had to “fly” Brent Roam’s stunt double on cables above the floor. When the puppeteers smashed the Graboid through from below, the stunt crew tried to yank the double up at the same speed so it would look like he was carried up by the Graboid. Unfortunately, the Graboid got a little hung up and our Juan double flew up faster. Linda Drake’s visual effects people worked really hard to try to blend the action together (by adding dust and boards and trying to digitally move Juan and the Graboid closer together) but you can still tell if you look closely – and you fans always look closely, don’t you! By the way, in all the closer shots that’s really Brent Roam doing his own stunts. He loved riding the Graboid.
Well, there’s quite a gap in Tremors history between the late 1800s and the late 1900s. There are many unanswered questions. Our reasonably good guess is that the statue probably got sold off by a Chang descendent. Genuine cigar store Indians have become more and more valuable over time.
It happens when they’re just slightly longer than the ones we see in the movie. They lose the plates and go into a semi-dormant phase during which all their energy goes into growing very fast.
They are similar, but shorter and fatter, like fat slugs; almost colorless and slimy. They remain fairly inactive for a time after hatching, waiting for their protective armor to harden. Then they start feeding aggressively and grow quite rapidly to the 4-5 foot stage.
That would’ve been cool, but we just like the name Hiram because it sounded old fashioned and very un-Burt like.
No, but you are correct that it’s in about the same spot as Nancy’s house. After Hiram and Christine left, the hotel fell into disrepair. A few years later, like so many structures of the old west, it burned to the ground. Arson was suspected but could not be proven.
We like to think so.
We don’t think so. Nestor moved to Nevada from back East. His family was not from the West.
Just before the last Graboid died in Tremors 4, the tentacle attacking the Changs was torn off. What happened to it?
It was buried along with all other evidence of the “dirt dragons.” Remember, at that time, the people of Perfection did not want the world to know about the creatures.
No. To be clear, Hiram is given a Gatling gun, which is an early version of a machine gun. The cannon Burt refers to is a replica of a Civil War cannon (single shot, muzzle loaded). It can be fired with a fuse, which is why he has fuse on hand.
What exactly happens to Perfection between 1889-1990. Did the town start to prosper again after 1889? Aside from Hiram & Christine leaving, what happened to the rest of characters? Was the market passed down to Fu Yien and then Walter? And what ended up happening to Perfection within those 100 years that made it a ghost town by 1990?
Okay, long question. Long answer! To be honest we didn’t put a lot of thought into it. We were getting excited about returning to present day and finding Graboids in Australia (Tremors 5). But, as avid faq readers know, that didn’t happen.
In any case, here’s what I think. For a time, everyone made money, since Perfection was an active boom town, ballooning to several thousand residents. Pyong and Lu Wan saw their store rebuilt (with real walls this time). Juan rose to foreman in the mine, wisely putting every penny he made into improving his paid-off ranchland.
Inevitably the silver played out and Perfection went the way of so many other boom towns, shrinking almost overnight, never to return to its glory days. But it was never abandoned. There was always a core of hardworking residents. Juan took over his ranch and turned full time to raising cattle. Decades later, the ranch would be owned by Miguel.
Chang’s market never closed. Pyong and Lu Wan gamely ran their store well into the next century when Fu Yien did indeed take it over, with Walter following him.
Perfection was not helped by its geographic isolation. Due to the mountains and the cliffs, to this day there is only the one road into the valley. The road wasn’t even paved until the 1950s, when there was increased activity in town due to the nuclear weapons testing in Nevada. Even then, the use of Federal funds to pave the road was denounced as government pork for a “road to nowhere.” Government money and personnel disappeared with end of testing and the Cold War, and Perfection was once again a lonely outpost. Burt, Heather and Nancy were relative newcomers, arriving in the 70s and 80s, respectively. Melvin’s parents used it as a second home, spending most of their time in Vegas.
So, that’s a bit of the history as we now know it!
What the heck’s that giant single shot pistol Lu Wan Chang (Lydia Look) uses to blow the head off the Graboid tentacle attacking Fu Yen (Sam Ly)? – NEW
Our prop man just described it as a pistol firing a 10 gauge shotgun shell. I thought maybe it was custom made. But a fan flagged it as probably a Remington Mar III flare gun dating from the late 1890s. Here’s part of what he told us: “These are Spanish American War era flare guns, and were often issued to the Navy.” [They] could have been used in the Spanish American War, or in Mexico going after Pancho Villa, or WWI. Even without the notion of a custom made gun, the design of the Mark III goes back far enough.”
When the baby Graboids hatched from the eggs in 1889, were there any Ass-Blasters in Nevada that laid the eggs?
Absolutely! The whole idea is that Graboids have been around a very long time, but they are so rare that they, and shriekers, and A-Bs have almost never been seen by humans. Also, the eggs incubate for years, depending on conditions. So A-Bs might have laid them decades or even a century before people arrived and established the town of Perfection of 1889.
In a recent answer to another question, you mentioned Sara Botsford, from Tremors 4, read for a role in the tv series. What character did she audition for in the series? Also what was her reaction when you decided to cast her in your 4th film?
I’m afraid we no longer know what part Sara read for in the series. If it was early, before production, she might have come in for the role of Nancy. After that, were were reading dozens of actors every week for every guest part, so it was pretty crazy. I also don’t know what Sara’s reaction was when her agent told her she’d been cast in T-4, but I know we were really happy to get her!
How do you think the characters of tremors 4 would have stood against a fight of shriekers and ABs instead of just graboids?
Man, you fans really have it in for the people of 1800s Perfection! Well, jokes aside, it would have been fun to continue the evolution in the Western version of Tremors. I’m sure the townsfolk would have come up with creative ways to fight the other incarnations. We’ve always prided ourselves on having our characters do what they can with what they’ve got. Hiram gallops across the desert dragging a burning side of beef to lure shriekers into a box canyon — where Fu Yien and Christine open up on them with the Gatling gun!
If we remember right, the bike was actually custom made for the Tremors 4 production. It had to look right for the late 1800s, and bikes were pretty different back then but isn’t a specific brand/make. After the movie it was sold at auction.
More on that Ghost Dance mine: Even though they are not the same mine in reality, are they supposed to be the same mine in the Tremors universe, or at least part of the same mine network (i.e., both originally owned by Hiram)?
I’m embarrassed to say we did not think of that! We were shooting and writing the TV series at the same time we were shooting Tremors 4, so things were pretty crazy. Excuses aside, we now adopt this idea officially! Yes! The Ghost Dance mine is at least part of Hiram’s original silver mine!
Terribly sorry, but we just don’t remember what it was. I actually checked with the propmaster for that film, and he took the time to look through old records and invoices he still had, but couldn’t find the watch. You can be sure he chose a watch that was correct for the late 1800s period of the film, and for Hiram’s upper-crust lifestyle.
Obviously, the Tremors franchise has many fans. However, I’ve personally talked with many fans that do not particularly like the fourth film, and it’s common to see it listed as the “worst” in articles that cover the whole series (sometimes even behind the fifth and sixth movies, which is just nonsense). I quite like it, if not necessarily as much as the first three or the series. My thinking is that this perception has more to do with a bias against westerns, as they’re no longer in vogue, as opposed to anything that’s actually deficient about the film on a qualitative level. Here’s the question: what western influence, if any, was there on the first Tremors movie? To my eyes, there are several elements that are similar between it and many classic westerns, but I want to hear what the people behind the film have to say. Thanks!
It’s both a movie review AND a question! But hey, the internet has unlimited space. As to the question part, all of us creators of the first Tremors grew up when westerns were very much in vogue. So at least subconsciously they had influence. But we’d also spent lots of time wandering around the small towns and ghost towns and abandoned mines of the southwest. It was the people and the look of those modern day Western places that had the most impact on writing and later shooting the film.
Can we get some backstory on Black Hand Kelly and how he became such a legendary gunfighter? Billy Drago’s character of Black Hand is such an interesting concept, and is the BEST part of the movie in my opinion.
The part had an interesting genesis. In the script, Black Hand was a young gunfighter. But, with many younger guys, the casting director brought in Billy Drago and said, “Wouldn’t going with him be unexpected and more interesting?” At first director S.S.Wilson was unsure of the idea, but fortunately got behind it, especially after seeing Billy read for the part. It’s been gratifying to see how well-loved the character became. As for backstory, we confess we didn’t focus on it much. We just wanted him to be legendary. That’s why Tecopa gets all wide-eyed when he sees him and says, “Black Hand Kelly?!” It sort of tells the audience all they need to know. Getting this question, I wish we had more ideas. Because he’s older, Black Hand certainly must have had many adventures and gun fights before he got to Rejection, Nevada! Prequel! The Black Hand story!