The evolution and anatomy of the North American graboid

Sometimes, when you really love a particular form of art, examples of that form from the time you found this love are elevated in your mind beyond any position this particular art deserves.

So it is for the movie “Tremors” and me.

In 1990 I was 10 and very much not allowed to see “Tremors.” But as an 11 or 12-year-old with access to a VCR, Tremors grew to be a major hit among my peer group.

So, get this. There’s this little town in the American desert southwest. It’s nestled in a canyon. And every hundred years or so giant underground sand worms hatch and feed on anything moving on land. I could parse the details, but that’s what you need to know. One of the characters, before he is eaten, dubs the creatures “graboids” and so they are called graboids.

Part of the movie’s appeal to me, then and now, is the portrayal of a survivalist, gun-hording, anti-government couple played by the dad from Family Ties, Michael Gross, and country singer Reba McEntire. Gross returned to the role in future, much less accomplished Tremors sequels. This first one, however, starred Kevin Bacon in one of the most important roles to the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game.

One of the appeals of life on the Iron Range, a hard rock wilderness on top of a massive granite shelf, is that graboids could never, ever reach here.

Or could they?

I could go on and on, but perhaps you would instead enjoy this utterly deadpan four-page scientific explanation of graboids from the Discovery Channel’s “How Stuff Works” page. I sure did.

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