Starring Michael Gross, Jamie Kennedy, Tanya van Graan, Stephanie Schildknecht, Greg Kriek, Jenna Upton, Jay Anstey, Jamie-Lee Money, Christie Peruso. Directed by Don Michael Paul. (2018/98 min).
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Review by D.M. ANDERSON
Every family seems to have one...that loud, brash uncle with an endless supply of dirty jokes, who encourages nephews to pull his finger and taps the beer keg too often at family barbecues. He's a funny guy, mainly because you don't see him that often, so his schtick doesn't have time to get on your nerves. Now imagine him moving in with you, where you're subjected to his wit day after day. When he runs out of new jokes, he just retells the old ones as though you've never heard them before.
As played by Michael Gross in every movie of the Tremors franchise, Burt Gummer is now that uncle. In the original, whenever he showed up with his massive cache of weapons and conspiracy theories, Gummer was just one of the many amusing characters that helped make it a minor classic.
But since Tremors 3, Gummer's character has been front-and-center (presumably because Gross keeps agreeing to come back long after the rest of the original cast has bailed). Like your obnoxious uncle, 90 minutes of this guy is simply too much, especially since he's evolved from being a clever send-up of survivalist culture to a cartoon caricature. Gross can't be faulted, though. He's just working with the material he's been handed.
Speaking of which, Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell is the sixth film in a franchise that probably should have quit after two. Like all the previous sequels, it's a straight-to-video affair, and despite the intriguing promise of a Graboid infestation in the snowy Arctic tundra, most of the film takes place in a remote wilderness not unlike any of the other films' settings (global warming is conveniently blamed for the lack of snow, saving the film crew the trouble of finding some).
Gummer and his partner/son Travis (Jamie Kennedy, returning from Tremors 5) come to the aid of a group of young scientists up north. Then it's business as usual. Everyone becomes trapped in a research facility by three Graboids, along with a few Ass-Blasters. Some folks get eaten, some don't, and one cast member suffers a fate worse than death as Jamie Kennedy's love interest. Nothing personal against Jamie, but he looks like he's been sleeping under a bridge and Travis is no substitute for Kevin Bacon's Val. Speaking of which, another character, Valerie (Jamie-Lee Money), is introduced as Val's daughter, which only serves to make us miss the original cast even more.
Then there's Gummer, of course, still ranting, cartoonishly paranoid and obsessed with killing Graboids, even at the possible expense of his own life (he's been infected by Graboid bacteria). But he isn't really that amusing anymore, not helped by a screenplay that doesn't give him anything new to say or do.
Considering its budget, the visual effects are convincing and it's always fun to watch the Graboids in action, as well as the creatively amusing ways to kill them. For some fans, that might be enough. But the charm of the original Tremors stemmed from its eclectic characters and clever dialogue, something that's been missing from this franchise for a long time.
FEATURETTES - "The Making of Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell" (consisting of several promotional clips); "Anatomy of a Scene"; "Inside Chang's Market"
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MEH...IT COULD BE TIME FOR BURT TO RETIRE