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Tremors

What's Shakin' Bacon?

10 Things You Might Not Know About Tremors

Catch the Tremors movies this month on IFC.

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Universal Pictures/Everett Collection

When Tremors was released, back in January of 1990, it was a flop. No one ran out to see this goofy horror flick with the guy from Footloose and the dad from Family Ties. Kevin Bacon himself considered it the nadir of his career, telling The Telegraph, “I broke down and fell to the sidewalk, screaming to my pregnant wife, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing a movie about underground worms!’” Then a funny thing happened. The box office bomb gained new life on VHS and cable, eventually becoming a cult classic. Now with four sequels, a SyFy channel series, and talk of a new show in the works, even Kevin Bacon can’t deny the film’s place in pop culture history. Before you catch the Tremors movies on IFC this month, whet your appetite with a few worm-y facts you may not know.

10. Slither has a Tremors Easter egg

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

James Gunn, the director behind the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, is a horror fanatic. He grew up obsessing over anything with a little guts and gore, from Night of the Living Dead to Shivers. But when it came time to make a big budget horror flick of his own, he wanted to emulate the tongue-in-cheek fun of one of his favorites, Tremors. Not only did his 2006 horror hit Slither feature some worm-based horror, but he even named the school where Elizabeth Banks’ character taught the “Earl Bassett Community School” after Fred Ward’s long-running franchise hero.


9. You can thank test audiences for that final smooch

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Tremors original ending featured Val and Earl riding off into the sunset, before deciding they could never leave their spot of dirt in the desert and turning around. When test audiences got a load of the ending, they were not pleased. What happened to Rhonda, the pants-doffing, monster-fleeing love interest at the heart of the movie? They wanted some smooching, so that’s what the filmmakers gave them, quickly reshooting the ending to feature a big ol’ kiss that consummated the sexual tension that had been built up throughout the movie.


8. To get a PG-13 rating, the F-bomb didn’t fly

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

While thrilling, Tremors isn’t as racy as your average horror flick. But that almost wasn’t the case. The MPAA originally gave the movie an R rating due to some salty language. To get the more family friendly PG-13 mark, and presumably a larger audience, all but one F-bomb was dropped from the film. But what an F-bomb it is.


7. The original opening was creepier

The sight of Mr. Footloose relieving himself into a giant canyon perfectly kicks off the movie. But originally the film started with the town drunk’s mule becoming a tasty Graboid lunch. The darker opening was shot but ultimately scrapped by the filmmakers.


6. Michael Gross’ transition from sitcom dad to worm killing warrior took one day

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Michael Gross, known to ’80s kids as the kindly dad from Family Ties, was ready for a new challenge as his long-running sitcom was coming to an end. When Family Ties wrapped its final season in April of 1989, he shaved his beard, caught a plane, and found himself killing worms in the middle of the desert the next day. He’s since gone on to star in every iteration of the franchise and regularly Tweets fun photos and stories from the Tremors set.


5. Shooting the movie gave Kevin Bacon sleepwalking nightmares

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Kevin Bacon has admitted to suffering from anxiety. Battling killer worms in the middle of desert would no doubt exacerbate the issue. That may be why Bacon suffered from sleepwalking nightmares while shooting the horror classic. He says he would sometimes pick up his then pregnant wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, “and sleep-walk and carry her out onto the street..She’d be like ‘Honey, honey, honey, you’re asleep!’ and I’d say ‘No! I’ve gotta get you out of here!'” It makes you wonder how fun his nightmares must have been when he was shooting She’s Having a Baby.


4. Finn Carter refused to rehearse the pantsing scene

Tremors pantsing 1

As much as Tremors is remembered today for its killer worms and humor, there’s no doubt the most impressionable moment for boys of a certain age was when seismology student Rhonda LeBeck’s pants got caught in some barbed wire, and needed to be shed in a hurry lest she become a Gradboid snack. Actress Finn Carter refused to rehearse the scene, saying she wanted her response to be authentic on the day of shooting. Because there’s nothing worse than an inauthentic pantsing.


3. The original title changed because of an SNL sketch

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Tremors is a catchy title, but the movie almost had a far more on-the-nose moniker. For most of pre-production, the film was known as “Land Sharks,” only changing the name when the screenwriter realized it bore a similarity to a certain famous SNL sketch.


2. The car scene was supposed to be more epic

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Originally the film was supposed to feature a scene where a car is swallowed into the earth, pulling its terrified passengers to their deaths. Unfortunately, the special dirt employed to swallow the car kept hardening, leaving the car sitting there above the surface. Director Ron Underwood had to cut much of the scene, and simply imply the car’s destruction by showing headlights slowly tilting up towards the sky. The scene may not have been as graphic, but it certainly was no less terrifying thanks to some quick thinking.


1. The Graboid design was originally far more phallic

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

It took some doing to land on a design for the Graboid that everyone could agree on. Designers Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis originally planned for the monster to have a turtle-like neck, until everyone agreed it resembled a giant foreskin. Apparently producer Gale Ann Hurd said that when the designs were faxed over, “all the women in [her] office would pass ’em around and giggle.” Although, for our money, a giant penis that craves human flesh sounds like one heck of a horror movie.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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