Tremors (1990) directed by Ron Underwood
Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) are handymen in the town of Paradise, Nevada (population 14). They do a lot of odd jobs and have ambitions to move to the big city--Bixby, Nevada. They finally decide to leave. But they've decided too late! A student seismologist (Finn Carter) has taken over the earthquake equipment in Paradise Valley and has been picking up unusual underground activity. More unusual is one of the local who is up on a powerline tower with his Winchester rifle. He's died. Val and Earl run across him as they are leaving, so they bring his body back to town. The local doctor says he died of dehydration, which takes three or four days. What is so scary that it'd keep a guy with a rifle trapped for so long? Underground carnivorous worms, that's what. The worms attack a work crew that happens to be working on the only road out of the valley, leaving the residents of Paradise isolated with the increasingly menacing foes.
This classic b-movie hits all the right notes. The heroes are charming and and down to earth. Reba McEntire and Michael Gross are fun as a survivalist couple who have a fully-armed compound just outside of town. Some of the other residents are picked off to heighten the tension. The creatures are slowly revealed and pretty ugly, though in a PG-13 way (not too over the top with bad looks or gore). Even thirty years later, the effects look good. The film has a lot of POV shots of the creatures chasing the residents (even one or two "underground" shots that work surprisingly well), a classic technique in the horror genre. The movie also has plenty of humor (the best line is when Val describes their handyman work ethic--"We plan ahead, that way we don't have to do anything right now"). The plot is the standard "coming up with schemes to escape the monster" and is intelligent enough to be enjoyable. None of the ideas they used seemed dumb and the only unlikeable characters are the worms themselves.
Recommended--this is a top-tier b-movie like Deep Blue Sea.