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It has been almost three decades since Kevin Bacon went face-to-face with a newly-discovered race of giant man-eating worms in the cult horror comedy Tremors. In the years since its release the movie, which was distributed through Universal Pictures to a positive response from both audiences and critics, has produced four sequels, a prequel and a television series that lasted for one season and featured only one cast member from the movie franchise, resident gun fanatic Michael Gross.
Twelve years after its cancellation it was announced that Universal and rising studio Blumhouse Productions had commenced work on a brand new series that would see its original lead returning to the role of local handyman and reluctant hero Valentine McKee. ‘I’d love to do something else with Tremors and revisit the character twenty-five years later,’ he confessed to IGN. ‘Part of what’s great about that movie is there are next to no digital effects. The monsters are done with puppetry and it’s still funny and scary.
At the time of its release Bacon was one of the hottest young stars in Hollywood, having first launched his career a decade earlier with supporting roles in Friday the 13th and Diner before becoming an superstar overnight with his starring turn in Footloose. Subsequent projects had failed to ignite the box office but his performances in the likes of comedy She’s Having a Baby and thriller Criminal Law would eventually lead to more respected pictures during the 1990s.
In Tremors Bacon would be partnered with Fred Ward, an actor sixteen years his senior who had become something of a cult sensation himself following his titular role in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and together the two would make the most unlikely-yet-lovable of double-acts, with Ward’s straight-faced cynicism a perfect contrast to Bacon’s youthful energy.
Yet while Ward would return to the series one more time in its belated sequel Tremors 2: Aftershocks six years later, Bacon had resisted the urge to reprise the role of Valentine, instead drawing critical acclaim for his performances in the tense dramas Murder in the First and Sleepers and only returning to the horror genre with the supernatural-themed Stir of Echoes in 1999. With Bacon having avoided participating in sequels throughout his career – a villainous turn in the X-Men prequel First Class being the closest he has come to participating in an existing franchise – fans of Tremors would never have expected him to return to the fictitious town of Perfection.
It would be more than a year and a half after the initial announcement before the project began to show any kind of development, with Syfy expressing an interest in purchasing the small screen spinoff which would once again show a small secluded town in Nevada terrorised by large worms that they have affectionally dubbed ‘graboids.’ Hunting underground through vibrations in the earth, Valentine and his band of misfits attempt to flee the valley while being picked off one scared resident at a time.
‘This is the only character I’ve played that I’ve ever thought about revisiting,’ admitted Bacon to Variety in 2015 when discussing the potential new show, which the makers hoped would erase all memory of the network’s earlier attempt, produced when they were still known as the Sci-Fi Channel. ‘I just got to thinking, ‘Where would this guy end up after twenty-five years? Andrew Miller has a fantastic take on it and we hope to create a show that will be fun and scary for fans of the movie and folks that have yet to discover it. Let’s kick some Graboid ass!’
Andrew Miller had first entered the film industry in the late 1980s as a struggling actor before finally turning to writing with the television shows Imaginary Bitches and The Secret Circle. To help in the development of a new pilot for Tremors Miller would turn to past collaborator Vincenzo Natali, who had first come to the attention of genre audiences with his 1998 cult classic Cube, a movie which Miller had made an appearance in. Bacon, meanwhile, had already embraced small screen success with The Following, a critically-acclaimed thriller which saw an FBI agent tracking down a convicted serial killer.
With Syfy having officially signed on to the project in the summer of 2017 and Blumhouse producing the show in collaboration with Universal, worked commenced on a pilot episode soon afterwards which would see Bacon finally returning to the series after his earlier attempts to distance himself from a movie that, at the time of its release, was a box office disaster. ‘I was like, ‘Why would I make a sequel of a bomb?’ That makes no sense to me,’ he would confess. ‘I am not going to make another movie that’s not going to do well at the box office. That is not a good career move.’
But by the following April the actor had announced that once work had concluded on the pilot, which was shot around Albuquerque in the prior fall, plans to develop the series further were eventually abandoned. ‘Sad to report that my dream of revisiting the world of Perfection will not become a reality,’ stated Bacon via Instagram. ‘Although we made a fantastic pilot the network has decided not to move forward. Thanks to our killer cast and everyone behind the scenes who worked so hard. And always keep one eye out for Graboids!’
Bacon has continued to promote the pilot even after the news of its cancellation and recently attended the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas where he appeared alongside his co-stars and showrunner Miller. ‘It’s pretty much the only character I’d ever played in a movie that I ever thought, ‘This would be a fun guy to check out twenty-five years later,’ just because he was a mess,’ he reiterated during the discussion. ‘Finding out what had happened to him post-worms would be an interesting journey.’
It was insinuated in the first sequel, which saw Ward’s character Earl Bassett joining forces with a young enthusiastic drifter to battle an evolved version of the Graboids, that following the events of Tremors Valentine had left the town of Perfection to become rich and famous after selling his story to the press. But the new television show would have seen the character having returned to the town many years later and now dressed much as he had during the first film, indicating that he had returned to his old job as the local handyman.
While there are no further plans to develop the Tremors series beyond the unreleased pilot, Miller did reveal details on what his intentions were for the show. ‘The idea was that there’s this incredible character who was a nobody in this tiny town and the idea seemed so fun to thrust him on the national stage, to make this Kevin Bacon character a ’90s heartthrob and then take it away,’ he explained. ‘The notion was, ‘What if Perfection was the hottest town in the world for a minute and then the Graboids don’t come back?’ Val was someone who still imagined himself as that ’90s superstar, even though those days are long gone.’
While there had been reports that Ward was rumoured to be returning to the role of Earl there had been no word on whether Michael Gross, the only actor to have appeared in every film and television episode of the franchise, would have participated in the pilot or subsequent show, with his character Burt Gummer having become a fan favourite. His most recent involvement with the series was 2018’s direct-to-video sequel Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, once again co-starring alongside Scream veteran and comedian Jamie Kennedy. ‘I just get the impression that this is Kevin’s thing and I’ve not seen a script.,’ he told Screen Rant when asked about the pilot. ‘I’m not involved myself in it, there was never any reaching out. So it is what it is. I’m just curious as everybody else.’