Tremors: Shrieker Island Digital HD Review

3.5 Stars Time to say farewell

Universal’s direct-to-video division, Universal 1440, brings what appears to be the final film in the Tremors franchise, Tremors: Shrieker Island, to digital platforms, as well as Blu-ray and DVD.

Tremors: Shrieker Island (2020)
Released: 20 Oct 2020
Rated: N/A
Runtime: 103 min
Director: Don Michael Paul
Genre: Action
Cast: Jackie Cruz, Richard Brake, Jon Heder, Michael Gross
Writer(s): Brian Brightly, Don Michael Paul
Plot: Graboids are illegally taken to a new island resort by a rich playboy as a dangerous form of trophy hunting, and Burt Gummer steps up to save the day.
IMDB rating: 5.9
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Universal
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
Audio: English 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 1 Hr. 42 Min.
Package Includes: Digital Copy
Case Type: N/A
Disc Type: Other
Region: A
Release Date: 10/20/2020
MSRP: $14.99

The Production: 3.5/5

It’s hard to believe that Tremors: Shrieker Island is the seventh (and possibly last) film in a franchise that has a surprisingly strong fan base over the last 30 years. The first film, released in 1990, was a modest success at the box office, but excelled on home video and cable, prompting six direct-to-video sequels and perhaps giving actor Michael Gross a second career. Prior to the first film, Gross was best known for playing Alex Keaton’s ex-hippie father on Family Ties, and his Tremors character, survivalist Burt Gummer, was a complete 180 from Mr. Keaton and ended up carrying all of the sequels.

On a remote tropical island, Avex-Bio owner and big game hunter Bill Davidson (Richard Brake) is leading a hunting party to take down four genetically modified graboids he planted on the island. However, the graboids have been hunting some of the indigenous people and eluding his hunting party. Meanwhile, on the mainland (or is it adjacent island – the movie is never quite clear on this despite the presence of large elephants), a team of biologists lead by Jas (Caroline Langrishe) and Jimmy (Jon Heder) are feeling the aftershocks of the graboids’ movements on the island and investigate. When they find the remains of one of the graboids, they fear that the worms are reproducing (their offspring are called shriekers), and Jas sends Jimmy to retrieve Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), believed to have taken up retirement off the coast of Papua New Guinea. As the graboids and shriekers begin to pick off Bill’s team of hunters one by one, Burt and Jimmy, with help from assistant Freddie (Jackie Cruz), form a plan to take out the invasive species on the island once and for all.

Although not a good movie by any means, Tremors: Shrieker Island is one of the better efforts from direct-to-video unit Universal 1440 (whose track record is atrocious with “sequels” like The Car: Road to Revenge, Backdraft 2, Jarhead: Law of Return, Tales From the Hood 2, Inside Man: Most Wanted). That’s a pretty low bar to begin with, and from that standpoint, Shrieker Island delivers with some good-natured thrills once Burt arrives on the island, which seems to take forever. Surprisingly, the film is rather competently directed by Don Michael Paul, who was responsible for many of Universal 1440’s direct to video sequel atrocities. The visual effects are better than average here, too, with most of them fairly convincing. Michael Gross once again steals the show as Burt, Jon Heder (filling in for an unavailable Jamie Kennedy) and Jackie Cruz (Orange is the New Black) have some good one-liners, Richard Brake chews the scenery, and Caroline Langrishe makes for a good former romantic interest of Burt’s.

Video: 3.5/5

3D Rating: NA

A Blu-ray copy was not available for review, but Universal did send over a Movies Anywhere code to review the digital release. I viewed the movie primarily on Vudu, but did spot check sections on Movies Anywhere and other partner retailers on my Roku Streaming Stick+, as well as on the Apple TV app on an Apple TV 4K device. Results were pretty much the same across the board. The 1080p stream has very good color reproduction, showing off the beauty of the Thailand coast where the movie was shot. Colors appeared natural and vivid, never appearing overly saturated (even Jon Heder’s bright red Hawaiian shirt). Detail was about average, with some overall softness to the image. Black levels were also satisfactory, with blacks approaching dark grey and shadow details appearing slightly crushed.

Audio: 4/5

Nearly all of the streaming services offered a Dolby Digital+ 5.1 track that worked well, offering good surround activity while still delivering clear and understandable dialogue. I did find that the LFE was somewhat anemic, with “tremors” and explosions not quite delivering the wallop I had expected.

Special Features: 1/5

Universal continues its trend of making extras on their digital releases to be Apple TV exclusives, which are only accessible on Apple TV devices. There were no special features accessible on Movies Anywhere, Vudu, FandangoNow, Google Play Movies (aka Google TV), and Prime Video.

The Monsters of TREMORS (1080p; 3:50): The full-length informational film shown to the biologists in the film, narrated by Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), and featuring clips from many of the Tremors movies.

TREMORS Top 30 Moments (1080p; 8:10): A rundown of 30 of the most memorable sequences from the franchise.

The Legend of Burt Gummer (1080p; 13:05): A look at the character played by Michael Gross.

Overall: 3.5/5

Tremors: Shrieker Island is a better movie than it deserves to be, thanks to its lead star, Michael Gross, and for sticking with the formula that has made the Tremors franchise so popular. Major demerits, though, for making the special features Apple TV exclusives (and only accessible on Apple TV devices).

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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Malcolm R

Senior HTF Member
Feb 8, 2002
Real Name
This has always been a fun, cheesy series. I picked up this blu-ray at Walmart this week for $14.96. Hope to watch it soon.

Malcolm R

Senior HTF Member
Feb 8, 2002
Real Name
It appears this is already on Netflix? I saw it listed when I was on there this morning looking for another film.

Malcolm R

Senior HTF Member
Feb 8, 2002
Real Name
Watched this last night (blu-ray). Nothing Oscar-worthy here (except maybe the cinematography) but it was another fun time in the world of Graboids. I presume the budget was kept quite low, but it was a beautiful looking film with the location shooting in Thailand. What there was of the FX looked very good, though in several scenes much of the monster action happened off-screen. I thought the LFE was quite good, so maybe the blu-ray has a bit more fidelity than the streamed audio. Many times you could hear/feel the low rumble of the graboids breathing/growling from underground (saving more on FX, you can hear them even if you can't see them).

I was also not clear if the two primary locations were separate islands, or one island and the mainland. I think they were probably two islands as they seemed concerned about the shriekers transforming into ass-blasters and flying away (presumably to the mainland).

There was also the discussion about how the high heat in the daytime would help shield the people from the shriekers' infrared vision, but at that location there were no shriekers only graboids, so that didn't make much sense in the end. Not sure if that was a script error, or if they cut later scenes involving shriekers at the plateau/caldera and didn't cut the discussion about temperature.

All the extras described above in Todd's review are on the blu-ray disc.

If this is the finale of the franchise, it was a pretty good send off.
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