Star: Kevin Bacon
, Fred Ward
, Finn Carter, Michael Gross
For sheer entertainment, this is almost impossible to beat. Right from the start Ward and Bacon show great chemistry, with Valentine and Earl a great pair of characters, stuck in rural Nevada with dreams of big-city life - or, at least, anywhere that's not their current location. However, the day they try to leave, the valley inhabitants are attacked by giant, underground worms, and the survivors must figure how to deal with an enemy that can't be seen until it's too late. And as monsters go, the "Graboids" are fabulous creations, and the film makes full use of them, even though it's a good way into proceedings before it becomes clear what the humans are up against. They show remarkable intelligence too, learning from experience and adapting their hunting tactics, which makes them even more formidable foes.
The human cast are generally great, not least the survivalist Gummers (Gross and Reba McEntire, showing comic timing she'd later use for her TV show), in a sympathetic portrayal light-years from what the type usually gets. But even the bratty kid has redeeming qualities - we've all faked attack by a plush sabertooth in the LaBrea Tar Pits gift-shop. Er, just us then. :-) About the only weakness is Carter's bland seismologist, whose dialogue lacks the spark which illuminates almost every other line: "You see, we plan ahead. That way, we don't do anything right now." Even without the creatures, this would still be a sublime pleasure; add them, and despite all the sequels of diminishing return, it's a big, goofy throwback to another era. Yet the modern sensibilities and production values ensure you laugh with it, not at it.
What we said then  Wonderfully gloopy monster movie provides us with another new way to cook spam: spam-in-a-vallry, an allusion made concrete when one character says, "This valley's one long smorgasbord". The inhabitants of Perfection, Nevada (pop.14 - no, make that 13. Oh, now 12...) are under attack by giant worms: wisely, there's no attempt as justification or explanation. "Them's not local boys for sure", being all we have time for. The rest of the film is just as unpretentious, social comment being restricted to a husband and wife survivalist team (car registration UZI 4U). Likable characters and a lot of orange slime add to the ambience - it's really tough to think of anything that would make this film any better as sheer entertainment. Even the '15' certificate is on the lenient side! 9/10.