New Book Digs Into “TREMORS” Saga; Exclusive First Cover, Trailer, Author Comments
The popular film franchise about sizable sandworms and their walking and flying offspring has long merited its own book, and one is now on the way. Read on for a first look at the cover and trailer, and an interview with the author. Scottish film journalist Jonathan Melville’s SEEKING PERFECTION: THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO TREMORS is scheduled for publication just before 2015 to mark the 25th anniversary of the original film, which spawned three sequels and a TV series. Melville has interviewed over 60 cast and crew from the movies and show, including initial director Ron Underwood, writers/producers/sequel directors Steve (S.S.) Wilson and Brent Maddock, producer Gale Anne Hurd and actor Michael Gross, a.k.a. gun-wielding survivalist Burt Gummer. Ben Morris designed the cover seen below, and the trailer seen at the bottom of this article was created by animator Kayla Stuhr and composer Emília Rovira Alegre. Fango got some background on the project from its author:
FANGORIA: Where did the idea for a guide to the TREMORS movies come from?
JONATHAN MELVILLE: I’ve been a fan of the first film ever since seeing it late at night on the BBC back in the early 1990s. I’ve followed the releases of the sequels on VHS and DVD, and have always loved the mix of horror, sci-fi and comedy that made up the TREMORS movies. We always want to know more about our favorite films and TV shows, but apart from the occasional feature in magazines such as FANGORIA, there’s not much out there for TREMORS fans to get their teeth into. In 2011, I interviewed TREMORS co-creator S.S. Wilson and Burt Gummer himself, Michael Gross, for a UK sci-fi magazine and was left with pages of unused material. Early last year, I decided to approach Wilson and his writing partner Brent Maddock about the possibility of writing an unofficial guide to the TREMORS films and the TV series in time for the first film’s 25th anniversary, and was surprised when they said yes.
FANG: Did you get a positive response from others involved in TREMORS?
MELVILLE: The response has been fantastic. TREMORS director Ron Underwood gave me a few hours of his time, as did producer Nancy Roberts. Roberts helped get TREMORS made after the team of Wilson, Maddock and Underwood decided to team up on a movie after their experience on SHORT CIRCUIT back in the 1980s; Wilson and Maddock wanted Underwood to direct their script, but the studio had other ideas. I also spoke to the legendary Gale Anne Hurd, whose role in the success of the first film can’t be underestimated, and the late, great producer Jim Jacks, who helped get the movie greenlighted at Universal. I spoke to Jim last summer, and was shocked when I heard he’d died at the start of 2014. He was passionate about filmmaking, and I’m glad his voice can be heard throughout the book. I also tracked down the casting director, director of photography, set designer, composer, visual effects guys… Just about every area of the film is covered by a member of the crew who took time to chat via Skype.
FANG: What about the cast? Is Kevin Bacon in there?
MELVILLE: Well, the first thing to say is that Michael Gross has been fantastic over the last few years, always happy to exchange e-mails if I have questions about his part in all the films and the TV show. Burt Gummer fans won’t be disappointed! I also tracked down Tony Genaro [Miguel], Charlotte Stewart [Nancy], Arianna Richards [Mindy], Robert Jayne [Melvin] and Reba McEntire [Heather], who were all happy to discuss their time filming in Lone Pine. Kevin has a checkered history with TREMORS, and for many years he distanced himself from the movie, feeling the worms were the reason people loved it rather than him. Everyone I’ve spoken to has had great things to say about Kevin during filming and there are some nice anecdotes in there, but at present it looks like we might not hear first-hand what he remembers about working on it. Fred Ward is also highly regarded by his colleagues on TREMORS and TREMORS 2, but I’ve not had a response yet. Fingers crossed I’ll hear something over the summer; if you’re reading this, Kevin or Fred…
FANG: Are the sequels and the short-lived TREMORS: THE SERIES covered in the same detail?
MELVILLE: Almost. As with the cast and crew of the first film, many of those involved with TREMORS 2 through 4 and the series have been happy to discuss their time fighting graboids, shriekers and ass-blasters. So you’ll hear from the team at Universal who funded the direct-to-video sequels, as well as the many people who worked with small budgets to try and bring the scripts to the screen. I also spoke to Burt’s sidekicks in those films—Christopher Gartin [Grady in TREMORS 2], Shawn Christian [Desert Jack in TREMORS 3] and Victor Browne [Tyler in the series]—and many other cast members, many of whom have never been interviewed before. Once you realize what everyone was up against with shorter preproduction time and shooting schedules, reduced effects budgets, location issues, etc., you realize how amazing it is that these films got made at all. What has struck me throughout is the respect the original creative team—Wilson, Maddock and Roberts—have for both their characters and the fans. They’ve been invaluable in the writing of this book. The same goes for everyone else on those teams who went above and beyond the call of duty—certainly beyond the budgets they were given—to get these films made to schedule. I’ve started to publish some of the interviews as short podcasts, available on iTunes.
FANG: There have been rumors of a TREMORS 5 for many years; have you heard anything about that?
MELVILLE: A script for TREMORS 5 was commissioned by Universal and written when TREMORS 4 came out in 2004, so that exists somewhere in the vaults. Changes in the DVD market meant that the last TREMORS film wasn’t as much of a money-spinner as the previous releases, but that’s also down to a lack of promotion on Universal’s side. Michael Gross told me he’d make a fifth film if Wilson, Maddock and Roberts were involved, and those three will only make a film if the budget is enough to do the film justice; they’d have made a sequel years ago if they owned the rights. I’d love to see a new film in 2015, but only if it’s a fresh approach and treats the franchise with respect.
FANG: Was it easy to find a publisher for the book?
MELVILLE: Something I learned from speaking to the people behind TREMORS is that it’s easy to lose control of your own ideas. As someone with a publishing degree, I’ve wanted to self-publish a book for a few years now, and initially that’s the path I took. However, a small publisher here in Scotland heard about the project and have agreed to take it on, so I’m working closely with them to see how we can produce something special for the fans. A new batch of photos taken on the set of TREMORS turned up recently, and we now want to see how we can present those in the best way possible. The plan is to have it available in bookstores and online in December 2014. You can find out more about SEEKING PERFECTION: THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO TREMORS at the above-linked podcasts, its blog, on Facebook and Twitter.