Tremors: Shrieker Island is the latest (and possibly final) film in the wildly popular Tremors franchise. This seventh installment takes place on a remote tropical island where biotech company AVEX-BIO has a wildlife preservation outpost. Here, scientist Dr. Jasmine “Jas” Welker (Caroline Langrishe) and her team work with the indigenous people to study and document the local wildlife. Among the team members are Jas’ second in command, Jimmy (Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite)—an awkward young man who struggles with leadership skills, and needs to stop second-guessing his abilities—and fiery tech guru Freddie (Jackie Cruz, Orange Is the New Black), who has a passion for her work and hasn’t met a challenge she can’t conquer.
Jas’ boss, Bill Davidson (Richard Brake), has a private island nearby. While his day job may be bio-tech, his true passion is hunting, and he has secretly turned Dead Island into a private hunting sanctuary for the rich and elite. This weekend, he has invited a group of wealthy Silicon Valley bigwigs to join him on a special hunt. He has also hired expert archer Anna (Cassie Clare) to join them and help him impress the clients. Bill had illegally imported a graboid and manipulated its DNA to breed an even more evasive form of prey for his hunts. However, nature can’t be controlled, and the creatures have evolved beyond what Bill has expected. Deadly, more-advanced shriekers are now roaming the island. While most people would be frightened by this, Bill is excited for the challenge, assuring Jas that the island forms a natural containment zone for the creatures. However, “life finds a way”, and it isn’t long before Jas’ island is also in danger. Despite his hunting party being picked off one-by-one by the deadly predators, Bill refuses to stop the hunt, growing more and more obsessed and insane. Bill had jammed the communication grid for the weekend so that his activities would go uninterrupted. However, once Jas realizes what they are dealing with, she sends Jimmy to convince a reluctant Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) to return to civilization (or at least this small island) to help do what he does best—save the day from Precambrian lifeforms run amok.
While this is the seventh film in a 30-year franchise, there is no requirement to have seen the previous films or TV series first to fully enjoy this one—at one point the staff of AVEX-BIO are watching Burt’s promotional video, which gives a rundown of the creatures and their history. That said, longtime fans of the franchise will certainly get more out of the film. Tremors: Shrieker Island has much more of a horror tone rather than the campy vibe of some of the previous films—though it still has plenty of humor. It starts off very much like Jurassic Park, where Bill’s hunting party are in a dark, rainy jungle, and the hunters are quickly becoming the prey—they are being stalked by the Predator-like shriekers with their heat vision. This was certainly one of the most suspenseful films of this franchise.
From graboids to shriekers, there’s lots of exciting creature action again this time around, and Burt Gummer is back and spewing more of his hilarious Burtisms as he goes about taking them down. Whether it’s his first impressions of Bill—“That ass-clown is a skid mark on our collective underwear”—or just the odd colloquialism—“Does a bear shit in the woods and wipe his ass with a white rabbit?”—he’s always got some kind of witty retort. And there’s lots of new folks joining him on his mission. First there’s Jas, a woman from his past with whom he has some unresolved issues. There’s also Jimmy, who becomes Burt’s new oddball, comedic sidekick. Jimmy is eager to prove himself a leader, and this sometimes ruffles Burt’s feathers. Jimmy is also obsessed with films, and often relates their situation to some popular 80’s action flick such as Predator, Rambo, or The Evil Dead. (There are some great visual homages to some of these films as well as Alien.) This time around, Burt doesn’t have his usual arsenal of high tech guns and equipment to take down the creatures. Instead, he only has access to a more primitive stash of machetes and dynamite from an old WWII bunker on the island. This is where new character Freddie comes in—she’s like a MacGyver when it comes to putting stuff together. She’s heard the legends of Burt Gummer and is thrilled to be getting to work with the man.
Overall, I found this seventh film to be one of the most enjoyable of the franchise. It gets back to more of a visceral horror vibe while still giving moments of humor. Michael Gross is always a joy as the crazy Burt Gummer, and there are some really fun new characters this time around., with some nice, interesting character arcs. Burt and Jas need to resolve some issues from their past, Jimmy needs to hone his leadership skills, and crazy Bill just needs to get eaten! While this film feels like closure to the franchise, anything is possible, and should they make an eighth movie or another TV series, grab(oid) me a spot on the couch, because I’ll certainly be checking it out.
Tremors: Shrieker Island has been released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. I was sent the latter for review and was quite impressed with the quality of the presentation. The HD picture looked fantastic on my Apple TV—both the bright, beautiful island landscapes as well as the darker scenes when the shriekers are hunting their prey at night Predator-style. The picture remained clean and detailed throughout, allowing you to see all those raining graboid guts. The audio track is even more impressive, constantly making you feel like you are right there in the torrential downpour with the characters, or filling your room with the creepy skittering and growls of the monsters. It makes for a very exciting and immersive viewing environment.
The digital version of the film offers the same bonus material that can be found on the physical release. This includes two montages of clips from the franchise, as well as an excellent new 13-minute interview with cast and filmmakers from across the past 30 years of the franchise.
Technical specs vary by digital provider. Those listed below are from the Blu-ray disc.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.00:1
- Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DTS Digital Surround 5.1, Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- Movies Anywhere compatible
- The Monsters of Tremors (3:50)
Burt Gummer narrates this humorous and detailed explanation of the various monsters in the Tremors franchise—including Graboids, Shriekers, and Ass Blasters. It makes use of illustrated diagrams and footage from the films.
- Tremors Top 30 Moments (8:10)
Burt Gummer provides an introduction to this montage of 30 great moments from across the franchise, including ten of the biggest laughs, ten of the most gruesome kills, and ten of Burt’s greatest “Burtisms”.
- The Legend of Burt Gummer (13:05)
The cast and filmmakers from the franchise share fond memories of working with lead actor Michael Gross, his initial audition, his take on this iconic character that was so different from his role on Family Ties, playing this character for 30 years, three words to describe Burt, three words to describe Michael Gross, and more. Includes interviews with star Michael Gross; Kevin Bacon & Charlotte Stewart (Tremors); Robert Jayne & Ariana Richards (Tremors, Tremors 3); Brent Maddock, S.S. Wilson & Ron Underwood (Tremors 1-4, Tremors TV Series); Shawn Christian (Tremors 3); Jamie Kennedy (Tremors 5 , Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell); and Don Michael Paul (Tremors 5 , Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, Tremors: Shrieker Island). Also includes footage from a 30th anniversary “Return to Perfection” exhibit at The Museum of Western Film History for fans to meet the cast and filmmakers, and Michael Gross at the airport heading off to film the movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed this latest (and likely last) installment of the Tremors franchise. It had much more of a horror feel to it rather than the campiness of some of the other movies, but still had plenty of humor. Michael Gross is always a joy as Burt Gummer—he’s back with all his usual eccentricities and Burtisms, and is joined by a fun collection of new characters. The film is an exciting mix of action and humor, and the digital presentation looks and sounds amazing. The release includes a small but entertaining collection of bonus material, especially for longtime fans of the franchise. The film has also been released on Netflix at the same time as this home video release, so tentative buyers can check out there first if they subscribe, but this is one that fans will definitely want to add to their collection.