Today, I’m spotlighting a monster movie that sneaked into theaters way back in 1990 with no fanfare and carved out a well-deserved reputation as a thrilling, chilling, funny and fun film.

Today, I’m spotlighting a monster movie that sneaked into theaters way back in 1990 with no fanfare and carved out a well-deserved reputation as a thrilling, chilling, funny and fun film.

“Tremors” focuses on a tiny desert town (the ironically named Perfection) that suddenly becomes ground zero for a giant worm invasion. The town’s offbeat citizens and a pair of visiting goofballs (Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon, both very funny) team up to fight the worms any way they can, including distraction, deception and a judicious use of heavy explosives.

“Tremors” succeeds because, though it never takes itself too seriously, it also never becomes a joke. Instead, the movie provokes laughter and gasps, often at the same time. You worry about the characters, you thrill to the giant worms and you marvel at the ingenuity of the filmmakers, who manage to wring a surprising number of thrills from a few simple elements (the worms, the desert, a pogo stick and an annoying kid).

As a bonus, Michael Gross (the dad from “Family Ties”) and Reba McEntire (in her acting debut) steal the show as a pair of cheerful survivalists.

Will Pfeifer writes about new DVDs on Tuesdays and older ones on Sundays. Contact him at wpfeifer@rrstar.com or 815-987-1244. You can also read his Movie Man blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/movieman.