Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



One of the very best monster movies. That’s an admittedly short list, but this movie is damn near perfect. In an SF story you get one unlikely or impossible premise, and here it is that gigantic mutant earthworms could travel underground faster than a man can run. With that out of the way, the rest of the plot proceeds logically and with great attention to detail. Most of it takes place during broad daylight, almost unheard of in monster movies. (Notable exception: Jaws.) To me, monsters of the night provide too many opportunities for cheating on the part of lazy writers and directors. What really amazes me is on how many levels this movie works. It is not a satire, not a spoof, but it is funny as hell. Its purpose is not really to scare you, but there is terrific tension in some scenes. You could call it an homage to those awful giant radioactive bug movies of the ‘50s, but it’s a lot more than that. I really cared about these people (Fred Ward, Kevin Bacon, Finn Carter, Reba McEntire, Michael Gross, a few others) stuck on rooftops of a tiny desert town, battling these weird critters who track them by sound. The creators treated the tired old genre with more respect that it actually deserves, and as a result almost everyone I’ve ever talked to liked it a lot. The characters never do anything stupid, they are alert, bright, and think on their feet. The monsters are not invincible, like Jason or Freddy. They bleed, they die, and there are not an infinite number of them. Paradoxically, it has the look of a low-budget film—cheap-looking sets out in the desert, old cars, no A-list actors—and yet the SFX of the monsters and the collapsing buildings could not have been all that cheap. And the scene of the survivalist couple in their basement/arsenal is an all-time classic. “Broke into the wrong goddam rec room, you son of a bitch!”