Our survivalist and reluctant hero Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) is back with a vengeance, a new partner in Travis B. Welker (Jamie Kennedy), and on a new continent, Africa, battling a new kind of evolutionary nightmare Assblaster and Graboid. Both gentlemen are enlisted by an alleged African Wildlife Ministry representative, Erich Van Wyck (Daniel Janks), to capture the beasts. Along with a beautiful wildlife sancutary doctor, Nandi Montabu (Pearl Thusi) and her young daughter, Amahle (Nolitha Zulu), they all come together to do battle with the creatures. This film is a feast for the eyes as this particular production was filmed in the Cradle of Humankind itself, Houtang Province, in South Africa.
As Burt tries his best to make a living as an online celebrity with his own show about surviving in the wild, he comes across a maverick 40 year-old riding a motorcycle that interferes with a camera shot that his own cameraman, Riley (Zak Hendrikz), records. Cocky, slightly arrogant, with a quick wit, Travis introduces himself as a huge fan of Mr. Gummer and takes over as the new videographer of the series while Riley takes a Las Vegas gig where it seems it pays way more than what Burt is paying.
Not happy with the new man, Travis proceeds to tell Burt that he could “fix” him, develop a new brand of survivalist as a monster hunter. Of course, Travis tries to get Burt to think “outside the box,” where his life is concerned. Butting heads with him, Burt becomes antagonistic and doesn’t listen.But there is a moment between Burt and Travis when there is a mention of a gun show in Florida back in the Sixties and Burt has a fleeting moment of reminiscence about that time until a visitor arrives: Erich Van Wyck (Daniel Janks), impeccably dressed in an off-white suit and matching hat, a dark-bearded South African gentleman who manages to obtain Mr. Gummer’s services, via Travis’s smooth-talking style, pop culture references, and savvy.
Arriving at a working wildlife preserve via helicopter after chatting with the pilot Den Bravers (Ian Roberts) who gives Mr. Gummer some sage advice on his stay in South Africa, Burt proceeds to meet up with Van Wyck along with two assistants: Thaba (Sello Sebotsane), and a youngish rogue named Johan Dreyer (Brandon Auret), the survivor of a graboid attack in the beginning of the film where a friend of his, Basson (Lawrence Joffe), eventually became food for a subterranean Graboid. Travis and Johan try to one-up each other as Burt then schools Johan about the weaponry needed to kill Graboids and Assblasters.
We are then taken to an archaeological dig site, in Gauteng Province, where two attractive researchers, Dr. Michael Swan (Emmanuel Castis) and Lucia (Natalie Becker) uncover what the doctor called the new Graboid skeletal remains they found a “super-digger.” There is a nod to the first movie where Valentine McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) argue about the magazine they wish to be featured in; National Geographic. That made me smile. Tremors fans enjoy a lot of the tongue-in-cheek humor in these monster movies which are meant to surprise and give a quick education about the mythology and methodology of what I consider a 1950s throwback to moviemaking. But the fate of the doctor and assistant sealed their doomed when in an intimate moment in a sheltered shower, they are brutally attacked by a menacing Graboid which we do not see. Again, a bit of classic moviemaking where we do not see the monster but only its destructive wake. Ramping up the tension to give us a subterranean taste of what is to come.
Back to Burt, who arrives at a real working wildlife preserve, he meets up with our other three major characters: the dashing Baruti (Rea Rangaka), who is investigating unusual deaths on the wildlife preserve who harbors a secret attraction to the lovely Dr. Nandi Montabu (Pearl Thusi) whom Travis perks up as he is immediately attracted to. We are also treated to the innocent young daughter of the doctor, Amahle (Nolitha Zulu), who gives us a small treat of electrocuting worms to surface to use as bait. Of course, later on, we see this done on a more massive scale.
As this film progresses in its narrative and action, there are some incredible CGI work where it comes to the newly re-designed Graboids and the Assblasters. To those who are unfamiliar with the Tremors (1990) franchise, as written and helmed by S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddox, and director Ron Underwood, this story is written by William Truesmith, M.A. Deuce, C.J. Strebor with screenplay assistance by John Whelpley. The visual effects by Cinemotion Ltd. and Animation Department with Konstantin Nikolov and Emil Simeonov give us the right amount of tension and suspense, directed by Don Michael Paul (of Sniper: Legacy and Company Of Heroes).
We see how Burt is our anchor, always trying to be fully prepared for what takes us on a wild ride of mayhem and through the miasma of events leading up to Baruti’s protecting of Amahle in an unsuspecting daylight attack on the preserve’s medical area by an actual flying Assblaster (normally they glide, not fly) to a harrowing nest of eggs that Travis discovers in a cave, the pace is fast, the execution is suspenseful, and my hats off to the special makeup effects artist, Mathew Howard-Tripp, for giving us the obligatory gore one expects from a Tremors movie.
An incredible stunt team is put together for this movie. Nic Grigg (The Avengers: Age of Ultron) is the Stunt Coordinator and even actress Nolitha Zulu contributed stunts in this film. I am quite amazed at how these Tremors films give us the simple story and action needed to entertain and hold our interest. The character interplay is quite intriguing between our main cast as we begin to see their strengths and their weaknesses. Pearl Thusi wielding a bow and arrow is a sight to behold as she is at once strong and capable — and throughout the Tremors franchise all the women tend to be at the forefront amid a testosterone-filled movie. It has not gone unnoticed that guys enjoy the moments when the women bring their talents and intelligence.
I consider these Tremors films a popcorn-worthy event. Why? Because they’re so much fun and is an escape into what I see is classic 1950s sci-fi/horror moviemaking brought to a new level and new audience hungry for something that incorporates humor, drama, and suspense. Plus, Michael Gross‘s Burt Gummer is now considered a bad-ass action hero in my humble opinion.
Produced by Universal 1440 Entertainment and Capacity Relations, Tremors 5: Bloodlines was released in 2015 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.