Graboid

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Graboid
Graboid.jpg
A graboid as seen in Tremors
ClassificationDevonian predatory invertebrate
First appearanceTremors
Last appearanceTremors 4: The Legend Begins
Created byRon Underwood
Brent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
 
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Graboid
Graboid.jpg
A graboid as seen in Tremors
ClassificationDevonian predatory invertebrate
First appearanceTremors
Last appearanceTremors 4: The Legend Begins
Created byRon Underwood
Brent Maddock
S. S. Wilson

The graboid is a fictional species of sandworm that acts as the primary antagonist of the Tremors film series.

As Suzanne Ferriss and Mallory Young explain, the "destruction of 'graboids', as they are quickly dubbed, becomes the central tension of the film".[1] The creature made its debut in the 1990 film Tremors (although the name "graboid" was only mentioned briefly), and reappeared in its three sequels and the Tremors: The Series television series.

The graboid is based on the Mongolian death worm, a worm-like creature that attacks animals, and possibly humans. Within the film world, it is store owner Walter Chang (Victor Wong) who names them. The only other person in the first film to use the phrase "graboid" is Val McKee (Kevin Bacon). In the second movie Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) recalls the name "graboid".

According to UGO.com, "graboids are to the desert what sharks are to the ocean".[2]

Contents

Physiology

Graboids are depicted as subterranean animals, superficially resembling gigantic worms or grubs, with long, serpentine bodies. When fully grown, a graboid will measure up to 30 feet (9.1 m) long, and 6 feet (1.8 m) across at their widest point, and weigh 10-20 tons. Graboids completely lack eyes; they do not need them, due to living underground. Their heads consist of a massive, black, armored beak, which is used to push aside the dirt whilst digging. The beak opens up like a grotesque flower; it consists of a wide upper jaw, a thinner lower jaw, and a pair of hooked mandibles on either side. Whether they possess a skeleton or not is unknown, though a faux scientific document written by the SyFy channel hypotheses they have a semi-rigid internal structure, similar to the internal cuttlebone of cuttlefish.

Graboids have a trio of long, powerful, serpent-like tentacles, which are prehensile and have a reach of at least ten feet. Each of these tentacles (which have been loosely compared to functioning like the creature's tongue) terminates in a toothed mouth of its own. It is unclear if they actually bite off and swallow food on their own, or if they are simply used for getting a better grip on prey so it can be dragged into the gullet. Normally kept retracted in the graboid's throat, these tentacles were initially mistaken for the actual creatures, causing the characters in the first Tremors film to underestimate their underground opponents. The graboid's common name is derived from these prehensile tentacles, which "grab" prey and suck it back down the graboid's hungry gullet. At times, these tentacles appear to have minds of their own, hissing and writhing like snakes. Food is typically swallowed whole, though early in the original Tremors film, they are shown to dismember and decapitate their prey.

A graboid's hide is thick and leathery, with a rough, pebbly texture, giving them a reptilian appearance (though they are not reptiles). This makes them very hard to kill with anything short of saturation bombing or large-bore rounds. Graboids possess immense physical strength, able to topple over mobile homes, tow along an object heavy as a pickup truck without slowing down, smash through brick walls and pull an entire station wagon underground. Encircling their bodies are short spikes, which all move in unison to push the graboid through the dirt, similar to the setae on an earthworm. They are able to burrow faster than a human can run; a graboid in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection was able to keep pace with Burt's truck. With armored head and mobile spikes working together in unison, a graboid can "swim" through the loose soil at high speed like a shark in the water, though they are incapable of tunneling through solid rock. Graboids (and their imago forms, the shrieker and ass-blaster) have distinctive orange blood. Graboids also have a powerful stench, which is made evident on several occasions throughout the first film. Though underplayed in the 2nd and 3rd films, the graboid's stench becomes a critical plot point in Tremors 4; Juan is able to identify the graboids as being the unseen killers in the silver mines later in the film due to them sharing the same vile odor.

Behavior

Graboids are shown to be ravenous carnivores, always on the hunt for food. Indiscriminate eaters, their diet includes sheep, cattle, horses, donkeys, coyotes, and humans. They are known to be cannibalistic when the opportunity presents itself; El Blanco consumed an ass-blaster in Tremors 3. Lacking eyes or a nose, they are shown to hunt by sensing seismic vibrations which are produced by sounds and movements (such as walking). Because they are unable to tell the difference between edible and inedible vibration sources they adopt a policy of "eat first, ask questions later", swallowing whatever sets off their vibration sensors and regurgitating anything that is inedible. Inedible objects can be spat out with considerable force, being propelled high into the air. Due to the sensitive hearing they use for underground navigation, graboids are so sensitive to sound they must retreat from loud explosions, which cause them great pain.

Graboids are ambush predators, preferring to sneak up on their quarry, though they are shown to chase it down with great determination. They erupt from the ground and use their tentacles to ensnare prey, pulling them into their mouth (sometimes only the tentacles break the surface). The tentacles wrap around the prey, biting into its flesh or hooking the prey with their horn-like spikes. When prey attempts to flee by climbing (for instance onto the roof of a house or car), graboids will dig away the earth under the hiding place, undermining it until it collapses or sinks low enough to allow the graboid to pluck off the prey. When they are unable to break down the prey's hiding spot, the undaunted graboids will continue circling it, like sharks at sea, until it ceases making vibrations. Usually they wait so long the prey dies of dehydration or starvation, i.e. several days.

Graboids are depicted as highly intelligent, possessing memory and the ability to learn. For instance, in the first Tremors movie the characters successfully killed a graboid by having it swallow homemade dynamite. The second graboid (nicknamed "Stumpy" by Val) had apparently noticed this trap and simply regurgitated the dynamite. Other examples are when the characters escaped on a bulldozer which was too big to be toppled (weighing 30 tons) or undermined (it could drive away before the graboids had a chance to dig away enough of the dirt under it), the creatures dug a trap in its path.

Shrieker

Hunting and intelligence

Ass-blaster

Physiology

Hunting and intelligence

Life cycle

Origins

Film appearances

There are three varieties of Graboid shown in the films.[3] This number can be expanded to as many as four (juvenile dirt-dragons as larva, "adult" graboids as pupa, Shriekers as subimago, and Ass-blasters as imago) or reduced to as few as two (Dirt-Dragons as larva and Ass-blasters as adults; similar to the sharp lexical division of amphibian metamorphosis into tadpole and frog/newt). Their division into three forms seems to be based on habitat or locomotion: subterranean Dirt-Dragons, terrestrial/cursorial Shriekers, and aerial Ass-blasters.

The standard graboid, seen in all four films, is a subterranean animal, resembling a gigantic worm or grub, with a serpentine body, four massive, black, armored beaks on its head, and no eyes. Instead of hunting visually the graboids find their food by sound; they are also able to sense ultrasonic signals as demonstrated in the third Tremors movie. It also has several spikes on its sides that it uses to push itself along underground. The juvenile form of the graboid is about two feet long and looks somewhat similar to the adult form. The younger graboid has a proper beak (without the three separate jaws that form the lower part of the beak) and lacks the trio of serpentine tentacle tongues. Also, since they are not strong enough to pull a victim underneath the dirt, they instead propel themselves out of the dirt with extreme speed to take down a moving target. These young graboids are seen in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins wherein the characters refer to both juvenile and adult graboids as "Dirt Dragons". Graboids are also intelligent and learn very quickly. For instance, in the first film, when two graboids discover that the bulldozer is too heavy to lift, they simply dig a trap in its path.

The full adult form is about thirty feet long.[4] Graboids have a trio of long, powerful, snake-like tentacles, which are prehensile and have a reach of at least ten feet. Each of the three tentacles has a small, tooth-filled mouth and two horns. They often seem to have minds of their own. They die as soon as the graboid they belong to does.

In Tremors 2: Aftershocks, "Shriekers" are introduced. Fully grown graboids die while giving birth to a random number of creatures depending on the amount of food the consumed, these creatures are the shriekers. Much smaller than graboids, about 6 feet (1.8 m) long and 4 feet (1.2 m) high, shriekers live above ground and resemble a small dinosaur, with stout, three-toed legs and a compact body. They have similar beaks on their heads, but lack the tentacles of a graboid instead having a single, long tongue, and like graboids lack eyes and noses, but they don't have ears. Shriekers find prey through a retractable, heat seeking crest on the top of their heads as well as their tongues which they use to find cold food through taste. They are hermaphroditic and will gag up small shriekers as long as they find food.

The third stage, the "ass-blaster", is introduced in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection. Shriekers turn into ass-blasters, which resemble their original shrieker, shedding their skin as they grow and change. They are capable of gliding with the use of red/pink-colored sail-like structures at the sides of their bodies, consisting of a semi-translucent skin supported by rigid stems and a third dorsal sail that extends from the spine down the back and tail. In order to take flight, they shake and quiver their tails and backsides and seem to be mixing two liquids which produce an explosion of flames from their rear end, similar to a Bombardier beetle's blast of acid. Ass-blasters fall into a "food coma" when eating too much and carry graboid eggs within their bodies, supposedly bringing the life cycle full-circle.

Other appearances

In the television series, the townspeople live more or less in harmony with a thirty-foot albino graboid named "El Blanco". As the animal is sterile, it lives on instead of giving birth to shriekers. Since graboids have been declared an endangered species, it may not be killed by the townspeople, who in turn profit from their valley being declared a protected habitat.[5] However, despite this, Burt Gummer is allowed to and even hired to hunt down and kill other Graboids, presumably as they aren't sterile and will turn into Shriekers. During the series, Burt and his sidekick Tyler hunt down and kill a Graboid in a town obsessed with aliens. Also, the government wanted one Graboid to be alive and since El Blanco is, they are likely satisfied as they had agreed to let Burt hunt Graboids again if helped them capture one alive.

Steve Traiman writes, "MCA piqued consumer interest for the direct-to-video title Tremors 2: Aftershock with the graboid Game, which challenged Web site visitors to hunt for the giant worms featured in the movie."[6]

In Final Fantasy XI there is a "Notorious Monster" named Glavoid, an alternative romanization of graboid. Its design is very similar to that of graboids from the Tremors movies.[7]

Both the graboid worm form, and the Shrieker form can be seen on display at the Lone Pine Film History Museum in Lone Pine, California.

Collectible replica

In 2006, Mania.com revealed that "Sideshow Collectibles and ADI have announced their reproduction of the original graboid design maquette...based on the creature from the film, which spawned two sequels, a prequel and a television series" and "created by the effects company ADI, led by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff. Jr. Each piece is reproduced in fiberglass and polystone, hand cast and painted. The piece is designed to display on any desktop or table, and also features wall-mount brackets for hanging display, like a hunter's trophy."[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ Suzanne Ferriss and Mallory Young, Chick flicks: Contemporary Women at the Movies (2008), 196 google.com.
  2. ^ "Tremors: The Series". UGO Networks. http://www.ugo.com/channels/filmTv/features/tremors/sneakpeek.asp. 
  3. ^ "Graboid 101". UGO Networks. http://www.ugo.com/channels/filmTv/features/tremors/graboid101.asp. 
  4. ^ Rich Gray (2004-05). Click Or Treat. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-7864-1862-6. http://books.google.com/?id=rn9Y1smTvzkC 
  5. ^ Rich Gray, Click Or Treat: The Best of Halloween and Horror on the Internet (2004), 74.
  6. ^ Steve Traimon, "Home Video's Latest Output: Computers," Billboard 108.23 (June 8, 1996): 91.
  7. ^ FFXIclopedia, "Glavoid" date=2010-08-13
  8. ^ News Editor, "TREMORS Graboid Maquette", Mania.com (January 24, 2006).