Is Tremors: Shrieker Island the End of the Franchise?

After thirty years, Tremors: Shrieker Island -- the seventh film in a series that also includes a short-lived TV series and much more -- ends on a shocking note that seems to imply the series itself might be over and that Michael Gross can finally hang up his baseball cap and aviators in recognition of a job well done for Burt Gummer, the man who has become the de facto hero of the franchise since more or less everyone else left after the first two movies. But this is a horror franchise -- and, from all indications, a reasonably profitable one at that. Can you take anything at face value?

Gross would be the man to ask. Coming off his years as one of TV's most easygoing dads on Family Ties, Burt Gummer seemed like an odd fit for him in 1990 -- but in the decades since then, it's arguably the role he is best known for.

"Universal and the director [came] to me with this idea, and they said, 'This could be emotionally very powerful, if we have to say goodbye to this man after 30 years,'" franchise star Michael Gross told "And I hemmed and hawed, and I thought about it a little bit. And I said, 'You're absolutely right about the emotional gut punch this can be.' And I said, 'You're going to hurt a lot of people's feelings.' And I said, 'But I thought this franchise was over after four. So I could certainly live with it being over after seven.'"

So, that's that, right? Well..probably. There's still an out, though.

"What we negotiated -- well, it wasn't really a negotiation, we all agreed on this -- is that we kind of left the door open," Gross admitted. "Because although Burt is gone, we never see a corpse. We never see his remains. Everybody assumes he's gone. Is he buried somewhere? Is he unconscious somewhere? We never see Burt dead. We see Burt gone. We see Burt not returning. What does that mean? Has he been knocked out? Does he have amnesia somewhere? Does he wander off? Is he in a kind of coma? So yes, the way it ends is pretty profound."

Of course, the film starts with Burt living off the grid, with a giant beard, and telling those who want to recruit him that they need to track down his son Travis (Jamie Kennedy, who did not return for the movie). When he realizes that he has been contracted by an old flame, his determination to kill the monsters and get away is even more pronounced -- which could mean that the character would be motivated to disappear without a trace even if he wasn't seriously injured.


Even if Burt didn't survive the fall, it's plausible that the filmmakers could bring back the Tremors brand with characters like Travis (Burt's long-lost son, played by Jamie Kennedy), Jimmy (Jon Heder, who debuted in today's installment), or Travis's mother, Jas (Caroline Langrishe). Burt did joke, after all, that his monster-hunting empire and all the weaponry he owns would go to Jas and Travis if something ever happened to him.

Tremors: Shrieker Island is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and on demand now.