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Film / Tremors 2: Aftershocks

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Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996) is the second movie in the Tremors film series.

Filmed and set six years after the first, a group of Graboids is menacing a Mexican oil refinery. The owners hire a reluctant Earl and his hustling fanboy Grady to deal with the problem, and they in turn recruit Burt to assist them. But things gets complicated when the Graboids start hatching out "Shriekers" — smaller, bipedal critters that hunt by sensing heat and operate aboveground.


This film provides examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance:
    • Acts like attacking the truck and disabling the radio tower initially make it seem like the Shriekers are just as intelligent as the Graboids they spawned from. As the characters learn later, rather than hunt by sound like Graboids, the Shriekers hunt by heat and were only attacking those things because they were hot.
    Grady: You mean they're acting so smart... because they're so stupid?!
    • Later on, it turns out that the Shriekers actually are capable of surprisingly concrete problem-solving despite their apparent stupidity, as they begin forming a living ladder to get at Earl and Kate on top of the tower.
  • Adorable Abomination: When the caged shrieker gives birth, we see a brief shot of it gently nuzzling its newborn baby. Sure, it may be a carnivorous reptilian that would eat you as soon as look at you, but it is still a bit heartwarming to see it caring for its baby. Also serves to remind the viewer that the Shriekers aren't evil, we just happen to be their food.
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  • Aliens in Cardiff: Lampshaded.
    Grady: Of course! Stuff like this only happens in the middle of nowhere!
  • An Arm and a Leg: Earl and Grady see the truck they called for has been torn apart by Shriekers. When they look for the driver, all they find are his severed arms.
  • Answer Cut: Earl suggests they might need help in hunting the Graboids, but Grady thinks anyone would have to be crazy to want to help them.
    (cuts to phone ringing)
    Burt (picks up phone): Yeah?
  • Arc Words: The line "Doin' what I can with what I got" originates on-screen in Tremors 2 when Burt says it.
    • There's also the term "Dandy"...
  • Ascended Fanboy: Grady certainly acts this way and does have genuine admiration for Earl.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    Grady: How dumb do you think I am?
    Earl: Catch me later on that one.
  • Bad Vibrations: Played with twice. An unseen creature is making a tremendous racket thanks to some discarded metal sheets... and what finally hops into view is one small Shrieker. And that loud growing rumble? It's not a Grabiod, it's something far more dangerous: Burt Gummer arriving in his explosive-laden truck.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • In Earl's first scene, it looks like he's roping an unruly stallion to lead the animal into a corral. When we actually get a look at Wildfire, he turns out to be an ostrich.
    • The first appearance of Earl's "secret weapon": a toy truck that makes its appearance over a slope accompanied by impressive music, as if it's a monster truck.
    • Also, as noted under Bad Vibrations, during the first appearance of a Shrieker, both the characters and the audience are set up to expect some huge monster to appear.
  • BFG:
    • "Grizzly single-shot BMG based on a World War I anti-tank cartridge." This gun blew a Shrieker in half, then proceeded to punch holes through the stone wall behind the Shrieker, several oil drums, a tool shed, another oil drum and the engine of their escape vehicle.
    • Burt gives Earl and Grady .375 H&H magnum double rifles and cautions them to "hold 'em good and tight to your shoulder or they'll break your collarbone."
  • Big, Bulky Bomb: 2.5 tons of high explosives. It levels everything in the area and leaves a massive crater.
  • Blatant Lies: This telephone exchange:
    Earl: So I guess you've been kinda laying low?
    Burt: No, negative. Keepin' busy. Lots of projects. [brushes food crumbs off his shirt.]
  • Catchphrase: Grady's sheepish "I forgot..."
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Burt's literal truck full of guns and bombs ends up getting all used up by the end of the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Burt's MRE's, also in his truck full of guns and bombs.
  • Chest Burster: The Shriekers eat their way out of the Graboids.
  • Closed Circle: The characters originally go to the Petromaya oil fields willingly and can leave whenever they want, but then the Shriekers show up and start destroying their radio equipment and vehicles, effectively cutting them off from the outside world.
  • Comically Missing the Point: See Stuff Blowing Up below.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Kate finds evidence of the Graboid's origins, Earl states that he had always thought they were from space - an opinion he had also expressed in a conversation during the first movie.
    • The scene in Burt's rec room shows a wall visibly patched in the same spot a Graboid had burst through in the previous movie (of course, there's also the giant stuffed Graboid head mounted on the wall next to Burt). You can also see the patch in the third movie. Burt still hasn't painted over it.
    • Earl mentions the Graboids' ability to use tactics such as playing possum and digging traps.
    • On the wall of Earl's home we see that he and Val did end up in both People and National Geographic magazine (among others). Also, the photo used for People is the one that Rhonda took of Val and Earl at the end of the movie.
    • Earl decides things with Grady with rock-paper-scissors as he did in the first movie with Val.
    • There is a short scene where Earl explains how the Graboids got their name in the first movie.
      Earl: He named them. Then they ate him.
    • Earl finding out that Kate, a geologist to whom he's attracted, was once a centerfold he'd drooled over when both were younger but had never expected to meet. In the first film, Val is initially disappointed that geologist Rhonda doesn't look like a recent centerfold whom he's been drooling over, but is attracted to her anyway by the end.
    • This very obscure one takes quite a bit of knowledge about firearms and a sharp eye for detail. When he mentions to Earl that Heather left him, Burt says that she wanted him to send her the HK91 in the divorce. This is the first rifle that Burt pulls off the wall when the Graboid breaks into the basement.
  • Crazy-Prepared: This is played around with Burt. He has loads of ammo and explosives. One comes into play in the climax, but one gets used up by the third act.
    Burt: "I am completely out of ammo. (beat) That's never happened to me before."
  • The Croc Is Ticking: Because Grady left the radio blaring on the ground.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Burt Gummer came prepared to fight giant subterrean worms. But really, no one saw it coming because they hadn't been around Graboids long enough to know that they could hatch multiple smaller terranean Shriekers.
    Burt Gummer: "I feel I was denied... Critical... Need-To-Know... Information."
  • Don't Ask, Just Run: After Earl tosses a timed bomb onto Burt's massive pile of high explosives.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Averted. A car takes a BFG's bullet to the engine without exploding (the bullet still wrecks the engine, leaving the car undrivable, it just doesn't explode). When Burt's truck explodes, it's because it was stuffed full of high explosives.
  • Explosive Breeders: Shriekers. They reproduce asexually by just eating enough food until they literally throw up a newborn Shrieker. A single Shrieker in a warehouse full of food turns into dozens in a matter of hours.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: A desperate Kate uses the old Irish Switchblade to mangle a shrieker's probing tongue.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Not a very prominent part of his character, but Burt qualifies, when he all but admits he's there at least in part to get his mind off of Heather leaving him.
  • Hidden Depths: Earl seems like a two-time loser when he reappears, only to demonstrate some surprisingly-astute knowledge of geology once he's in the field. Seems he'd been studying a lot between films. He also keeps his home clean and tidy.
  • Hope Spot:
    • At the beginning of the movie an oil worker is trying to get to a van without touching the ground, and he sees a direct path by hopping on oil barrels. Unfortunately for him, it's not good enough.
    • After the group realizes they may have at least 21 Shriekers to worry about, Burt returns to home base and reports his encounter, which ended with killing dozens. The group hopes he killed all of them, but one Shrieker survived on the underside of his truck and soon gets into his food.
    • Burt lures all the Shriekers into the garage and locks them up. Everyone is relieved, until the Shriekers start getting into some boxes. The group discovers it's food.
  • Human Ladder: When most of the heroes hide on a roof from the Shriekers, the beasties eventually decide to get at them by stacking themselves on top of each other.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Earl chastises Grady for not knowing geology terms, and then refers to the seismograph as a "Seismojigger".
    • Later on, Burt goes on a rant about how the oil company that brought them in didn't brief them about the Shriekers, something they couldn't have possibly known about. Twice in the movie, once before this point and once afterward, Burt's actions put the group in further danger due to something he couldn't have known about.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Subverted, for the most part.
    • In an early example, Burt hands Earl an elephant gun, having first checked to make sure that it was unloaded. After receiving it, Earl then immediately checks for himself. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO WHEN YOU PICK UP A GUN!
    • A minor example when Burt shoots a Shrieker with his anti-tank rifle. He kills it, but the very high powered bullet continues through a brick wall, several oil barrels, and right into the engine block of the truck they were going to use to escape. General rule #4 of shooting is "be sure of your target and what's behind it.
  • Improbable Cover: Subverted when Earl sets Burt's whole truck—packed with explosives—to explode. When the others hide behind a nearby building, Burt shouts at them to "Keep running!". They look at Earl, who replies "Burt knows his bombs". After quite a bit more running, they find a ditch, which, combined with the distance, provides sufficient cover
  • Indy Ploy: Earl is very good at thinking on his feet.
  • Infrared Xray Camera: Shrieker vision - though a realistic, non-X-ray version.
  • It Can Think: Double-subverted horribly. Initially everyone is convinced that the Shriekers are highly intelligent and coordinated, only to find out that all they're doing is just attacking anything warm that they see on their infrared vision, which includes car engines and electronics. This leads to everyone concluding that the Shriekers are really just stupid animals right up until the Shriekers start forming a living ladder to get up on top of the tower Burt and Kate are hiding on, and later immediately locate the refinery's large food stores when they get locked inside the garage and begin spawning huge numbers to break out through brute force.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Justified - when survivalist Burt gives Earl and Grady some of his MREs to eat, Earl unwittingly bites into the wrong item:
    Earl: Ugh. This tastes like toilet paper!
    Grady (sounding amused): Earl, that is the toilet paper.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: During the night, Earl and Grady hear a coyote howling in the distance. Grady says it better keep quiet, and immediately afterwards the coyote's howl is interrupted by the sound of a panicked yelp and earth moving.
    Coyote: Howl
    Grady: That a coyote?
    Earl: Yep.
    Coyote: Howl
    Grady: He better keep quiet.
    Coyote: How—rumble-smack-yelp
    Earl: Yep.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    Earl: Sure is the middle of nowhere.
    Grady: Of course, stuff like this only happens in the middle of nowhere!
  • Magic Countdown: Averted/inverted; Earl sets a bomb for 2:45 seconds. It explodes 2:15 later.
  • Male Gaze: A great example and reversal. In one scene, Earl checks out Kate while her back is turned; in the very next shot, Kate checks out Earl in exactly the same way.
  • Minimalist Cast: Only eight actors appear on-screen at all. Two of them never appear again after the first reel.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Earl starts out thinking he's blown any chance to make something of himself. Grady convinces him the current threat is his big second chance.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Earl is very experienced around Graboids, while Grady... isn't.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Twice. Burt uses an anti-tank rifle to take out a Shriekernote , and as noted above also accidentally destroys the getaway vehicle they were heading for. Later, he manages to trap a Shrieker pack inside a building, which he only then learns is filled with food (which causes the creatures to multiply rapidly).
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Burt's escape from the Shrieker ambush, which included fighting some of them off hand to hand.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Earl and Grady when they find the remains of a Graboid that just gave "birth" to Shriekers.
    • They have an understandable "Oh God, we're fucked!" reaction when they find Pedro's remains. It's a whole new ball game indeed.
    • Burt's reaction to finding out Earl threw a bomb in his explosives-filled truck is a horrified "You what?!"
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Subverted when Burt takes out the Graboid that terrorized Earl and Grady.
    Grady: Burt, you scum! That one was ours!
    Burt: Oh yeah, son!? I didn't see your name on it!
  • Outrun the Fireball: Subverted and justified.
    • The subversion is when the heroes flee the site of an impending explosion and take cover behind a wooden shack, and then Burt runs past them, yelling "Keep going! It's going to be big!" Then that little shack they wanted to hide behind is Blasted to splinters!
    • The justification is that the bomb takes a bit longer to go off than they expected, giving them just enough time to get out of the considerable blast radius.
  • Properly Paranoid: Burt brings it up himself:
    Burt: You know, Grady, some people think I'm over-prepared. Paranoid. Maybe even a little crazy.... But they never met any precambrian life forms did they?
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I feel...I was denied.. CRITICAL .. NEED TO KNOW .. INFORMATION."
  • Raptor Attack: The shriekers are a velociraptor-like "nymph" stage (this movie premiered 3 years after the first Jurassic Park). However, they're not even close to dinosaurs, actually being even older.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Senor Ortega and by extension the Mexican government. They immediately recognize the danger the Graboids represent and send for the best hunters they can get and pay Earl, Grady, and Burt handsomely for their work. Even when Senor Ortega offers double pay for capturing a live Graboid, he stresses it's only a suggestion and will hold no ill will if they can't (or won't).
  • Red Shirt: Kate's assistant, Pedro, does very little before getting eaten by a shrieker.
  • Reality Ensues:
  • Refusal of the Second Call: Variant - the original film starred Valentine McKee and Earl Basset as the heroes. In the first sequel, Earl agrees to face a second Graboid incursion in a Mexican oil field... but Val, who killed the last Graboid, is specifically mentioned as having been previously contacted by the oil field's owners off-screen and refused to get involved again.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Takes place in Mexico, although lacks many of the typical stock elements to show they're in another country.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Burt can always be counted on to bring on the explosions:
    Burt: That's two and half tons of high explosives, Earl!
    Earl: You mean that's not enough? Oh Burt, don't tell me it's not enough!
    Burt: Not enou... Never mind, just run! Run!
  • Suspiciously Stealthy Predator: Subverted. Earl and Grady have a major Oh, Crap! moment at how smart the Graboid hatchlings seem to be after they destroy a running car engine to block any escape and take out the radio tower so they can't call for help. Then someone observes that their rudimentary vision is based on heat signatures, and they only went after the car and the tower because both were putting off heat.
  • Tempting Fate: The heroes flee the site of an impending explosion and take cover behind a wooden shack... then Burt runs past them, yelling "Keep going! It's going to be big!" Regarding the soon-to-be fireball:
    "Is it going to be today?"
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: "Man, Burt, you put a whole new shine on the word 'overkill'." Said about the ginormous truck full of what must be at least half a ton of high explosives when Burt first shows it off. Turns out to be Foreshadowing.
    Burt: Memo: two pounds of C4 may be a bit... excessive.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: While the Graboids and Shriekers have some capacity for problem-solving, it turns out that for the most part they are just SuperPersistentPredators that attack anything they perceive as food, and in doing so just happen to tear apart anything that humans are using for shelter, distractions, weapons or methods to try to communicate or run away.
    Grady: So you're telling me that they're acting smart because they are stupid?
  • Trapped with Monster Plot: Same deal as the first film, but this time the group of humans have to deal with the smaller, more numerous, bipedal offshoot of the Graboids, which they dub "Shriekers" on account of the sound they make. While it doesn't hunt based on sound (being both blind and deaf), it can detect any heat signature, which also causes them to attack all machinery including car engines, disabling it, and trying to run from them in a wide open space is similarly suicidal.
  • Ultraterrestrials: Earl initially believed that the Graboids were from space. Kate ultimately discovered that the originated in Pre-Cambrian Earth.
  • Wall of Weapons: Burt still has his, and it even has a Graboid head mounted on the wall as a trophy.
  • We Need a Distraction:
    • Earl soaks a piece of clothing in hot water to use as a distraction for the heat-seeking Shriekers so he and Kate could move to a safer location.
    • Later on, Burt uses himself as a distraction to lure the Shriekers into the garage to trap them inside, though that doesn't work out as planned thanks to the piles of sweet snack foods, rice, and flour inside.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: According to Burt, one of the reasons Heather had for leaving him was the fall of the Soviet Union, and that Burt couldn't handle life without the threat of nuclear annihilation.
  • Zerg Rush: The Shriekers are smaller and considerably more fragile than the Graboids they hatched from, and are easier to fire at since they're on the ground. However, they're also far more numerous and, in that particular situation, Burt had stocked up on low ammo, high impact weapons expecting to deal with Graboids, which results in him burning through his ammo rather quickly once the Shriekers show up. Notably, Shriekers seem to be a combination of both remarkably stupid yet incredibly smart. They attack anything that's hot enough to be alive, resulting in them assaulting a radio tower and shredding the electronics within, as well as ripping up the engines of cars. In Grady's own words, "You mean they've been acting so smart because they're so stupid?" At the same time, they're clever enough to prepare ambushes like the one that Burt stumbled into (and apparently the one that killed Pedro) and they formed a living ladder to get to the humans on top of the oil tower.


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