Three decades after the world was first introduced to the deadly, wormlike creatures, the Tremors franchise is going where no Graboid has gone before: the tropics!
SYFY WIRE has the world premiere of the trailer for the seventh Tremors movie, Tremors: Shrieker Island. It debuts on Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD on October 20, from Universal Home Entertainment.
Check out the trailer:
As you can see, our favorite survivalist and Graboid hunter, Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), is back for another adventure. But instead of a desert town like Perfection, Nevada, this time the fun takes place on a tiny island where wealthy trophy hunters use genetically modified Graboid eggs for their sadistic pleasure. Of course, things quickly go sideways, and Burt — who else? — has to save the day. He gets some help from Jimmy, played by Napeolon Dynamite’s Jon Heder.
We had the chance to talk exclusively with Michael Gross about revisiting Burt on the 30th anniversary of the original film’s debut, and the actor makes no bones about his affection for the character. “I do love this guy. He's so wonderfully crazy,” Gross says.
In the new film, Burt is not as gung-ho as in previous outings. He’s checked out, and as Gross describes, “He’s looking pretty ragged at the beginning. [He looks] very much like a Robinson Crusoe character,” he points out. “Burt is usually very military, with a … shaved head, all that sort of thing. But this time, it's like Burt in COVID times, right? He's let himself go.”
“Burt has gone completely off the grid this time. That is to say he has gone as far away from civilization as he can. Even Perfection, Nevada, was not far enough,” Gross notes. “When this privately owned island in the South Pacific becomes overrun by monsters, they find themselves in some deep doo-doo, and they go looking for the world's number-one monster hunter.”
Burt has to be convinced to rejoin the fight against the monsters by Heder’s character. A fan of Heder's breakthrough comedy Napoleon Dynamite, Gross was happy to welcome him into the Tremors family. “It was so much fun to have him and work with him, because he's a very silly and creative individual,” he says.
Of course, it’s Burt who remains the paranoid, armed-to-the-teeth glue that holds the Tremors series together, the one who, in the end, always gets it done. Even Gross seems surprised he’s managed to survive 30 years in a horror-comedy franchise. “I’ve become the world's expert on Burt because nobody else is around who remembers him,” he jokes. “I do love this guy. He’s wonderfully crazy. I honestly feel a duty to protect him, if you will, to be a kind of advocate for Burt and the way he thinks and how he might react in certain situations.”
“To be honest with you, every time we finish one I think to myself, ‘Okay, that's plenty. That's good. We've done it,’” the actor admits. “And then something else comes along. Who knows? One of these days you may yet find him in a wheelchair with rocket mounts on the side of the chair. Wouldn't that be great?”
One of the perks of watching Shrieker Island on Blu-ray or DVD is the chance to view the special features. It includes a special 30th-anniversary featurette that has a tribute to Gross from his Tremors co-stars, including Kevin Bacon, Ariana Richards, Jamie Kennedy (he played his son Travis in the sixth film), and others, including members of the crew. There’s also a breakdown of all the various species of monster in the Tremors-verse.
As with every Tremors movie, there’s an ample dose of firepower. Gross teases that there is some weaponry that hasn’t been seen before. A gun owner in real life who says he believes in gun rights and sensible restrictions, Gross recalls a scene in the first Tremors movie that suggests Burt shares his same views. “For example, Melvin Plug in [the first film] was denied a weapon by yours truly. And when I finally gave him a weapon, it was unloaded,” He says. “Because there are certain people who should not have a weapon.”
Gross’ affection for the franchise is plain to see. He believes part of its appeal, aside from its well-balanced mix of comedy and monster action, is how it’s humans working together against the creatures. Gross proudly observes that Burt has never fired a weapon at another human being in the entire film series. And then there’s the fact that for an actor, steady work that’s fun is hard to come by without the rigors of television. Gross did 176 episodes of Family Ties. He knows about that grind. “Actors are gypsies by nature. We do a project and we move on to something else,” he says. “I like that freelance life. I like revisiting Burt with a slightly different twist every few years. Steady work is a blessing.”
It does help that the classically trained actor isn’t above poking a little fun at himself when he’s on set for his latest monster-piece. “There are times when I'm suited up as Burt, covered in gore,” Gross says, “and I’ll turn to somebody and say, I studied Shakespeare for this.”
Watch for Tremors: Shrieker Island to debut on Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD on October 20.