Subterranean Terror — Tremors: The Series
Tremors: The Series was produced between the third and fourth films, and based on an idea that had been conceived during production of the second film, but was not able to be greenlit at the time. The actual series, with Tremors 3 as its intended ‘pilot’, presents the citizens of Perfection against not only Graboids, but also other creatures — either hybrids spawned from a chemical compound labeled as ‘Mixmaster’, or fictitious prehistoric animals. Recurring in the series is the Graboid El Blanco, introduced in the third film; 8 out of 13 episodes of the series are focused on the subterranean creatures.
KNB Efx provided the practical creature effects for the series, whereas the digital effects were created by Encore Hollywood. “Tremors is incredibly demanding,” said visual effects executive producer Barbara Marshall, “but it’s also a lot of fun and it offers our animators almost limitless opportunities to be creative. While the show’s time and budget constraints are challenging, our team has proven it can produce effects that are a hit with the show’s fans and compare favorably with those seen in the Tremors features. This is the kind of project we had in mind when we created the visual effects department at Encore Hollywood.” The series’ recurring Graboid, El Blanco, was built as a full-size animatronic head section. The new model was based on moulds of the original Graboids, although the sculpture was cosmetically altered. Compared to the animatronic used in Tremors 3, its color scheme is slightly different — most noticeably in the tentacles, which employ white tones rather than pale flesh tones. KNB redesigned the internal structure of the mouth, allowing actors to actually slide down the throat of the creature through collapsible panels in its mouth. The tentacles were built as animatronics and featureless extensions of the Graboid puppet. El Blanco was also portrayed with digital effects (mainly for scenes that involved the creature bursting from the ground — as the schedules could not allow for complex practical set-ups), although occasionally the model (built from scratch) appeared red — as opposed to pale — due to rushed post-production schedules. In A Little Paranoia among the Friends, another Graboid was brought to the screen similarly; the El Blanco puppet was repainted for that single episode and then repainted back to its original color scheme for other episodes. The Shriekers appear in episodes Shriek and Destroy — where a pack appears in Arizona — and Night of the Shriekers — where a scientist attempts to use them as rescue animals through the use of controlling mechanical implants (an attempt that fails, needless to say). New fully articulated, cable-operated animatronics were built by KNB Efx, again based on the original moulds and with cosmetic differences (such as the longer tibia). Digital Shriekers were also built from scratch by Encore and used for scenes where the Shriekers performed fast actions or were injured or killed by gun hits.
A single Blaster, named Messerschmitt, appears in the episode Blast from the Past, where it is first stolen from its Las Vegas owners by poachers and then breaks free, returning to Perfection. KNB supplied a full animatronic of the creature, which — compared to its predecessor — presented a taller and shorter tail crest and a brighter color scheme. For certain scenes, the puppet was mounted on a rig with a greenscreen arm (which was erased in post-production). Its digital counterpart was instead used for scenes where the Blaster is seen flying or running. For more images of the Blasters, Shriekers and Graboids, visit the Monster Gallery.