Arriving on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital platforms tomorrow is Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, which follows franchise stalwart Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) and his son, Travis (Jamie Kennedy), to colder regions where recently unfrozen Graboids have been unearthed, causing all sorts of catastrophic problems up in the Great White North.
Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with Gross for this latest Tremors, and he discussed Burt’s journey throughout the series, the joy of collaborating with Kennedy, and the possibility of another Tremors film in the future. We also spoke with Gross about the potential of a Tremors crossover too, since there was a TV series in the works, but now that the pilot hasn’t been picked up, it looks like Tremors will continue to be a film series for the foreseeable future.
Great to speak to you again, Michael, and congratulations on getting to come back for another Tremors. It's always a welcome sight to have Burt back in our lives, and I think you guys have really found a new, fun way to explore the idea of the Graboids this time around.
Michael Gross: You know, we're looking for change-ups now, what can we do that's different and interesting, and climate change seemed like the perfect entry point to this. We started tossing ideas around shortly after we did the fifth one, and we started thinking, “Wait a minute, the permafrost is melting. What if it's suddenly releasing these things that have been entrapped in the ice for hundreds of millions of years?” So, we decided to get out of the desert, for golly's sake, and see what happens.
One thing led to another, and it seemed like a perfect fit: a warming planet and the dangers it brings. You thought it was just going to be rising oceans, well, it's also Graboids, too—sorry folks. We should just really stick to the Paris Climate Accords or there will be big trouble up north.
This newest Tremors was interesting because there has been this evolution of the character of Burt over the years, and there are a lot of changes to him this time, which I won't go too much into detail because I don't want to ruin that for fans. But this is a much different ride for him, and I was wondering what was the most interesting aspect for you to be able to explore in this sequel?
Michael Gross: That's a good point. Professionally, he's at the top of his game. He knows what he's doing, he can kill Graboids. That's what he does. He's the expert, that's why people call him. Professionally, he's great. Personally, we wanted to begin to plumb the depths of who this man is and what really shakes him.
In Tremors 5, we were trying to explore "what does it mean for this loner, a totally isolated man, to have somebody come into his life, and they want to spend time with you?" How do you deal with that? It was something that Burt didn't even know was a possibility. And for this one, without spoiling anything, it was about Burt having to feed control to someone else. This is a man who believes in control at all times. He’s about precision, control, doing things by the numbers and by the book, and to go against that is something very challenging for him. So, we wanted to take him to that edge, and for me, that was part of the fun.
I appreciated how well you and Jamie have come together over these two Tremors films and really made this back and forth between Travis and Burt really work to both films' advantages. How much fun was it to dig back into this relationship with Jamie again? And do you feel like you fell more into having a rapport because now you guys already have the last Tremors under your belts together?
Michael Gross: Yes, exactly. It was ever so much easier. We had a lot of fun together. Jamie has a great sense of humanity to him, but he's also a very silly man in all the right ways. I don't mean immature, but silly as someone who can have fun. It was a joy. We had a wonderful time together. They are a great oil and water mix, because that character of Travis is loosey-goosey, and Burt is nothing if not rigid, almost catatonically rigid, with a certain sense of paranoia. And Travis is seemingly worried about absolutely nothing.
If you had to give them slogans, Burt would say, “Look before you leap.” Travis would say, “He who hesitates is lost.” So, they are illogical partners in many ways, and that's part of the fun. There's obviously an affection that they have for each other, even if they drive each other nuts. But that’s family.
In this film, they teased this idea in one of the scenes of Graboids being underwater, and it made me realize that we actually haven't seen that before. And because you’ve been living with this franchise for decades now, have you thought about where you would like to see Graboids go in the future? Have you guys had any discussions for the future?
Michael Gross: Well, you're absolutely right. In Tremors 5, there was this mutation where the little tongues, the tentacles, could go off on their own, and they became these free-range creatures. And in this one, they weren't changed so much as they just had different adaptations, where they can bore through ice and things like that. They’re the Arctic Variety Graboid.
But we have discussed how they might change, and to be honest with you, if we had an unlimited budget, Heather, we could do almost anything. We were discussing this today. But some of the choices we make are constrained by budget. They really are. And unfortunately, because this is show business, where it's 5% show and 95% business, creative teams can come up with wonderful ideas, but the accountants will say, “Oh no, you can't do that. That's too expensive.” So, it's a balancing act that Universal is constantly doing, but we just had a meeting today about a theoretical Tremors 7, so you never know.
I won’t say too much here, but there is something in this new Tremors that could potentially be used as a means for a crossover between this film series and the new Tremors TV series that is in the works. Is that anything you’ve thought about at all?
Michael Gross: This is something that has not been talked about at all for the simple reason that I've heard nothing, nor have I been invited to be a part of that. Kevin Bacon, after all these years, has decided to do his own thing, and we've made it easier for him, because we've made five films after the first Tremors which have kept the fan base alive. But all I’ve heard so far are rumors, so I haven’t heard anything about it.
So, my tendency is to say there will be no crossover because it feels like there are almost two different universes at work, and it seems like Kevin wants to do a very specific thing. But I do think we've done him a favor by keeping the franchise alive, because had there only been the first film, it might have gotten lost along the way, save for a few passionate fans out there. But I am glad that I’ve been able to be a part of that, and I have had such a ball keeping Tremors alive for all these years. It’s been a total joy for me, and I’m grateful for the fans who have continued to follow along.