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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Tremors: Shrieker Island

July 19, 2021 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Tremors: Shrieker Island

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #595: Tremors: Shrieker Island

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that thinks owning a flamethrower is only cool in theory, that in reality it’s probably a gigantic pain in the ass, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and ninety-five, I take a look at the action horror comedy sequel Tremors: Shrieker Island, which was released on home video in mid-October 2020.

Tremors: Shrieker Island


Warning: This review contains spoilers

Tremors: Shrieker Island, the sixth sequel in the Tremors franchise, could very well be the end of the franchise as we know it. Directed and co-written by Don Michael Paul, who has directed the last three Tremors movies, Shrieker Island moves the action to a tropical location for the first time in the franchise, with the story taking place at a nature preserve and a private island in the Solomon Islands. Riffing off fellow Universal franchise Jurassic Park, Shrieker Island doesn’t actually feel like the end of anything, at least for most of its 102 minute running time, but when the credits roll it sure as hell feels like the end of something then. Is it the end of the franchise, though? Is Shrieker Island the last low budget, direct-to-video Tremors sequel?

Maybe. And maybe it isn’t.

Shrieker Island stars franchise stalwart Michael Gross as survivalist, gun aficionado, and professional graboid killer Burt Gummer, who has been living a life of extreme solitude on an island since the end of the last movie (a href=> Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell). When a “canned hunt” featuring genetically modified graboids goes seriously awry on a private island next to a nature preserve, Gummer is recruited to help deal with the new graboid problem by nature preserve scientist Jimmy (Jon Heder) and his boss Jasmine “Jas” Welker (Caroline Langrishe). At first, Gummer really doesn’t want to get involved because he likes living alone on the island in the little hut he’s built for himself. When he finds out what’s going on, though, Gummer decides to get involved and stop the graboid problem before things get out of hand (well, more out of hand than they already are. Just having graboids in an area where you wouldn’t expect to find them is a massive problem before you get into the whole “they’ve been genetically modified” thing. Gummer isn’t too happy about that fact, either). Gummer is also worried about Jas, who just so happens to be his old girlfriend and mother to his son Travis (played by Jamie Kennedy in Tremors 5: Bloodlines). So Gummer leaves his island of solitude and heads to the wildlife preserve to deal with the graboids one more time.

So how the hell did graboids (genetically modified graboids) end up on an island in the middle of the south pacific? Bill (the great Richard Brake), a mega rich biotech CEO, owns the private island and brought graboid eggs to his island so he could then hunt them when they hatched. Bill also has a group of bored, rich assholes who pay Bill mega bucks so they, too, can hunt and kill a graboid. The island situation is a sort of “side business” for Bill, a business that will no doubt be lucrative if it ends up working. As long as he and his main henchmen (badass archer Anna, played by Cassie Clare, and minigun operator and man mountain Mohawk, played by Bear Williams), things should work out, at least that’s what Bill hopes for.

Bill’s big plan doesn’t work out. The genetically modified graboids (they were altered by Bill’s biotech firm so they could somehow become even more dangerous, making the hunt more challenging) not only start killing Bill’s hunting guests, the island’s indigenous population, and various wildlife, but they also start to evolve into shriekers, the bipedal creatures that reproduce asexually and hunt by body heat. When Gummer finds out about the presence of shriekers and Bill’s insane canned graboid hunt, he starts to lose his shit. Gummer officially loses his shit when he finds out that Jas doesn’t have access to any guns. How the hell is Gummer supposed to fight off graboids and shriekers and, if it happens, ass blasters, without guns? Jimmy leads Gummer to a stash of old World War II era weaponry in a bomb shelter on the island, and suddenly there’s hope. Using flamethrowers, old school knives, and boxes of old dynamite, Gummer starts to come up with a plan. Will Gummer’s plan work?

Well, you can’t necessarily say that Gummer’s plan works. Gummer and his helpers (Jimmy and fellow hunter/survivalist/Gummer fan Freddie, as played by Jackie Cruz) don’t prevent anyone from dying. Graboid and shrieker carnage ensues big time. Gummer’s plan does go better than Bill’s big plan, so in that sense Gummer’s plan is kind of successful. Had Bill listened to Gummer when Gummer told him what he had deliberately unleashed upon the world, Bill would have been better off in the long run. Just about everyone in the movie would have been better off if Bill had listened to Gummer.

The biggest issue with Tremors: Shrieker Island is the story keeps switching back and forth between the nature preserve and the private island but each area looks pretty much the same. As a result of this, you’re never quite sure where the characters are. We do see Gummer sail back and forth between the islands but, again, the islands look exactly the same. There’s a big set piece in a cave that, I think, takes place on the private island but I’m not entirely sure. It probably would have made more sense to just have one island that would have been big enough to house both the nature preserve and the canned hunting ground. Bill is rich enough to own a big island. Having it all take place on one island means you don’t have to have any confusing sailing scenes.

The movie’s other big issue is the whole “Gummer living on an island by himself” stuff. Would Gummer really do that? Would he live on a secluded island, essentially out in nature? I would believe he did that in conjunction with having a fortified shelter elsewhere on the island. Yes, Gummer probably has the skills necessary to survive on his own on an island. But, again, would he do that? How could he “be prepared” for the coming apocalypse and whatnot? Even with the mental issues he developed after the events of Cold Day in Hell I don’t think he would just live on his own on an island without a big hooha backup plan of some sort.

And the whole “Gummer has to help his old girlfriend, who just so happens to be the head of a nature preserve that he lives near” thing is a bit too big of a story/plot coincidence. I mean, what are the odds of that happening? You don’t think about it too much while the movie is happening, but once you’re done watching it you’re likely to wonder about it. That’s what happened to me.

And what’s the deal with all of the slow motion stuff? Some of the slow motion makes sense and helps build tension but only some of it. There are times in the movie where it seems like slow motion is employed for no reason at all. It’s weird as hell.


So what does Shrieker Island get right? The monster action is pretty solid. The graboids are still of the Bloodlines variety (completely CGI, more cartoony as a result) and the shriekers look quite a bit different from Tremors II: Aftershocks (again, just like the graboids, they’re all CGI here), but they still work. They’re scary and weird and you don’t want to end up getting eaten by them. Director Don Michael Paul also knows how much you need to see the monsters for the various attack set pieces to work. Sometimes you see the monsters up close, and sometimes all you see is the build up to the attack and then the aftermath. Should there have been more gore? Definitely. I would have liked to see more limb ripping and stuff like that, but we do get some terrific looking “exploded graboid” gore (most of this appears to be practical gore, which looks a million times better than the CGI stuff).

The overall action is pretty good, too. There are two outstanding sequences where we see Gummer use a flamethrower on groups of shriekers. Seeing shriekers on fire is a true thing of low budget monster movie beauty. The gunplay that we see, mostly from Bill’s side of the story, is decent enough. The mini gun that Mohawk uses is a terrific movie weapon. Anna’s use of a bow and arrow is a bit strange after the scene where she knocks an apple off a hunter’s head. Would she really use a bow and arrow tracking down and hunting a graboid? Explosive arrows, maybe, but just regular arrows? I’m not entirely sure that would work.

The movie is about as humorous as the previous two Tremors sequels. The movies, by and large, after Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, are less funny and goofy. The newer movies are more serious minded and not as fun. That doesn’t mean parts 5 through 7 aren’t fun because they are, but they’re not as fun as the first four movies (these movies are sometimes referred to as the “Stampede Entertainment” movies). Part of that is due to how the movies look. Parts 5, 6, and 7 have much harsher looking cinematography and, as a result, they’re less whimsical. I thought Shrieker Island would be funnier because of the presence of Jon Heder but that didn’t happen.


The movie’s performances are quite good. Michael Gross is Burt Gummer. Gross knows exactly what he’s doing at every moment he’s on screen and there isn’t a false moment in his performance (well, almost). It also appears that Gross did quite a few stunts and action sequences on his own, which is amazing since Gross is in his seventies. Yes, he isn’t as spry as he was in the first three movies (or, hell, the previous two movies before Shrieker Island), but he can still wield a weapon and kill a monster and look good and plausible doing it. Gross also knows how to do the “this is how we have to kill a graboid and I should know because I’m an expert at it” scene and make you believe he really can do it. Gummer’s final scene doesn’t play as well as it should, mostly because it comes out of nowhere and involves Gummer being eaten by a graboid and apparently dying. He does get a nifty middle finger send off as he pushes Jimmy out of the way before being eaten, but I would have preferred a little more build up to that moment. If Michael Gross, who has been in every Tremors movie to date, is giving his last performance as Burt Gummer, I want it to be a big deal and come off as a big deal. It shouldn’t be a shock that he’s suddenly gone, then he gets buried (sort of) and that’s the end of things.

Jon Heder does a decent job as Jimmy. As I said earlier, I really thought Heder was going to make the movie funnier than the previous two, but he doesn’t make Jimmy the goofball you expect him to. Heder does have a few funny moments, a few good lines, but he takes his scientist role seriously, and it’s a bit weird. Heder still does a good job, though. It will be interesting to see if he ends up being a part of the franchise going forward, if there is an ongoing franchise.

Richard Brake is fantastic as Bill, the rich biotech asshole that genetically modifies graboids to make them more challenging to hunt. Brake makes Bill an overly confident asshole and you totally believe that he would not only create a business where rich assholes pay him to hunt graboids but that he would also try to make graboids even more dangerous than they already were. It’s absolute insanity, but then Bill, as a master of the universe and a high achiever and all that, believes he can beat back reality because he creates his own reality. I do wish his death scene was bigger/showier/nastier, but Bill does get eaten by a monster, which is exactly how you think his story would end.

Caroline Langrishe does a nice job as Jasmine “Jas” Welker. You totally believe that she is the director of a nature preserve and that she cares deeply about animals and whatnot. She also has believable chemistry with Michael Gross as his Burt Gummer’s old girlfriend. I would have liked to see more of them together, but, I guess, if and when we get a Tremors 8 we will see Langrishe interact with Jamie Kennedy’s Travis.

Jackie Cruz is excellent as Freddie. There are times where it seems like she’s overplaying the whole “I’m not a hippy like these other nature preserve people. I like guns and explosives and shit like that” thing, but you end up believing that is who she is supposed to be. I’m surprised she doesn’t end up fighting a shrieker hand-to-hand (I’d imagine that we would see that kind of thing in a sequel). The same goes for Cassie Clare, who does a good job as Anna, one of Bill’s main henchpersons. The bow and arrow thing is a little weird, but you totally believe that she’s a real deal badass and could handle a hand-to-hand brawl with a creature like a shrieker. Why didn’t it happen? Was it a budget thing (most likely)?

Bear Williams doesn’t get to fight a shrieker, either, as Mohawk, the minigun guy. That seems wrong. Sanajak Boonthanakit’s Mr. Bowtie gets to do more with the shriekers and graboids than Mohawk. What the heck is the deal with that?

So where does the Tremors franchise go from here? Will Universal Home Entertainment do another direct-to-video sequel? Has Shrieker Island made enough money to warrant further graboid adventures and whatnot? And if we do get another Tremors sequel who the hell is going to be in it? Will Michael Gross return in some form or fashion? Will Universal try to get Fred Ward back for another graboid story? Maybe Reba? Or will we see a direct sequel to Shrieker Island, with Heder and Langrishe along with, maybe, Jamie Kennedy’s Travis? Or will we see a full on franchise reboot, with a new story and new characters?

I’d imagine that if we do get a Tremors 8 that’s a direct sequel to Shrieker Island, it would make sense to have Kennedy and Heder as the main characters with Michael Gross coming back for flashbacks or to do some sort of “ghost Burt Gummer” thing. If Universal decides to reboot the whole thing and start fresh, who knows what that would even look like? Would we get a movie about adults being attacked by underground monsters like the original Tremors, or would Universal try to “young it up” a bit and make it a full on scary monster movie where graboids attack teenagers? I don’t think we’re going to get a Kevin Bacon led reboot or some sort of sequel, like his aborted TV show pilot. I think the time for that has passed.

Tremors: Shrieker Island is a decent enough low budget action horror comedy sequel. It isn’t as good as the last Tremors sequel but it does enough right to be worth a watch. The ending comes out of nowhere and is a bit of a disappointment, but the journey up to that ending is pretty good. Michael Gross deserves some sort of lifetime achievement award for his work as Burt Gummer. He has managed to keep the franchise together for thirty years. Who the heck is going to do it now that Burt Gummer is no more?

See Tremors: Shrieker Island, especially if you’re a Tremors nerd. It’s worth it. I liked it, despite its issues.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 10.

Explosions: A few. They’re pretty good.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A lizard, a scared guy running, a noise making contraption, heavily armed people shooting at a graboid, wooden spear launching, elephants, off screen heavy drinking, multiple boat trips, a dead graboid, a shrieker attack that looks similar to a raptor attack from Jurassic Park, machete hooey, a booby trap, bow and arrow hooey, grub eating, a lack of communication, outhouse graboid attack, an uncomfortable reunion of sorts, beard trimming, hair cutting with a sharp knife, a total lack of guns, a dart rifle, a flock of birds, an elephant skeleton, a super acoustic attack, minigun attack, flamethrower attack, a guy gets sucked through the ground, using a flamethrower as a bomb, exploded graboid chunks, tranquilizer attack, off screen zip tying, some bullshit about shoelaces, fireworks, an underground bomb shelter attack, exploding building in slow motion, a really inappropriate swim in a lake (considering what is happening at the time), an explosive perimeter, a bridge attack, cool mud, chainsaw and machete attack, an awesome flamethrower sequence, chainsaw in the mouth, a monster setting off multiple explosives, horse riding, slow motion running, exploding graboid, a funeral, a pile of rocks, and a nice character montage during the end credits.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Richard Brake, Jon Heder, Jon Heder with a machete, Jon Heder barfing, Michael Gross, Michael Gross eating a real grub on camera, use of the “self-licking ice cream cone” phrase, a big speech about bureaucracy, whiskey, Michael Gross trimming his beard and then giving himself a haircut with a really sharp knife, “Alcatraz for graboids?,” sunglasses, heat vision, mention of swamp ass, Michael Gross calling Predator a “Hollywood fairytale,” cell phone lights, bomb making, multiple Predator references, multiple Jurassic Park references, Jon Heder fighting monsters with a chainsaw, a flamethrower being called a “flame unit,” Michael Gross being eaten by a graboid, and the possibility that the franchise as we know it is over (maybe).

Best lines: “Let’s go, Jimmy! Rise and shine!,” “Red Bull and vodka. Never a good combo,” “Okay, I’m going to start leading by example and run! I suggest you do the same!,” “I need you find Burt Gummer for me, Jimmy,” “Fools have more money than sense,” “Destiny’s a bitch,” “So we did kill it?,” “I have no choice. I’m going to have to report you to the World Wildlife Federation,” “He probably got drunk and shacked up with an island chick,” “Looks like someone needs a shave. And a haircut,” “Civilization comes calling, whether I like it or not,” “This guy can’t be for real. Trust me, he’s for real,” “Burt Gummer. What brings you to my island paradise?,” “That ass clown is a skid mark on our collective underwear,” “Dynamite sweats?,” “For starters, don’t do that,” “Oh shit!,” “If we make it out of here alive I’m going to open an extra big can of whoop ass!,” “All right! Bon appetite, bitch!,” “It’s a good thing they all signed waivers,” “I can’t believe Bill roofied you,” “Finally, a hunt worthy predator! Wahoo!,” “Got a light?,” “Sayonara, muchacho,” “Lighten up, Bow Tie. Where’s your sense of adventure?,” “Don’t do that, Jimmy,” “No one wins against these things! No one!,” “I don’t have to be careful! I’m prepared!,” “Hey, don’t lose those Ray-Bans,” “Who needs guns when you have Pennsylvania steel?,” “You’ve been waiting for me, haven’t you?,” and “Destiny’s a bitch!”

Rating: 7.0/10.0


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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Tremors: Shrieker Island

Michael Gross– Burt Gummer
Jon Heder– Jimmy
Richard Brake– Bill
Caroline Langrishe– Jasmine “Jas” Welker
Jackie Cruz– Freddie
Cassie Clare– Anna
Sahajak Boonthanakit– Mr. Bowtie
Bear Williams– Mohawk

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Don Michael Paul
Screenplay by Don Michael Paul and Brian Brightly, based on a story by Brian Brightly and based in part on characters created by S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, and Ron Underwood

Distributed by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Rated PG-13 for creature violence, language throughout, some gore, and suggestive/drug references
Runtime– 102 minutes

Buy it here and here