Lance W. Dreesen and Clint Hutchison’s horror anthology is a movie that’s managed to slip under the radar and remain fairly obscure. Even in the age where old titles are being revived for physical releases, and even in the age of the anthology renaissance, not too many people talk about “Terror Tract.” It’s a shame, since the 2000 horror film is a bold mix of terror, dark comedy, and zany violence that make it feel like an EC Comic that is slowly losing its sanity as it unfolds. You wouldn’t think that the late John Ritter could have been a great person to lead such a stellar horror anthology, but he’s top notch in a film that’s so unfairly overlooked.
Ritter is a real estate agent named Bob who is assigned to showing the latest properties up for sale in a small neighborhood to a young married couple, as played by David DeLuise and Allison Smith. Bob takes them through various properties that, oddly enough, all have horrifying back stories and histories behind them. “Nightmare” with Rachel York, is the classic tale of comeuppance and clairvoyance where York plays a wife who is cheating on her husband. When he learns of her affair, he plots to murder them, but the tables are turned. Plagued with nightmares of him coming back from the dead to get revenge, things get complicated when her lover has trouble covering up the murder, prompting a surprising twist.
This segment is played more for mood and atmosphere, much like the third tale “Come to Granny,” a creepy psychological thriller about a young with psychic abilities who visits a therapist, about his mental condition. He has having visions of a maniacal axe murderer known as the Granny killer, and every time he sees the killer enacting his murders, he falls victim to seizures. Events become ever more disturbing when his girlfriend becomes the Granny Killer’s latest victim. As the session intensifies, the therapist is convinced that her patient might just be the Granny Killer. The zaniest and most darkly comic tale of the trio is “Bobo,” a story about a suburban family whose life is interrupted when their daughter Carol finds and befriends a small monkey.
Although the monkey seems tame and harmless, the monkey quickly displays immense violence toward anyone but Carol. Bryan Cranston as dad Ron quickly despises the monkey and does everything he can to kill it, even hiring an animal wrangler to murder it, but not only is the animal cunning, but immensely violent and intelligent. One of the more interesting casting choices in “Terror Tract” is Marcus Bagwell (more famously known as wrestler “Buff” Bagwell) who plays an inept and overly cocky animal hunter. “
It’s also interesting to see Bryan Cranston in a much more intense role after his stint on “Seinfeld” as he plays his segment “Bobo” with the right balance of horror and lunacy. Although the tonal shift is a bit jarring mid-way, “Terror Tract” is menacing for the fact that it gets gradually darker and more sinister, while delivering sharp plot twists, and resolutions that never end on a positive note. Everyone is doomed in all three stories, positing the question: Why would anyone try to sell houses by telling potential clients these horrific stories?
“Terror Tract” answers that central question with an epilogue that is about as looney, bizarre, and bat shit insane as you can imagine, with writer Clint Hutchison giving audiences one last dose of insanity. My jaw about hit the ground during the final scenes upon first viewing “Terror Tract” and for what the concept entails, it’s a brilliant wrap up, all things considered. It’s a shame that “Terror Tract” has flown under the radar for twenty years, as it’s clever, creepy, dark, and incredibly vicious; it also has a great cast like the (aforementioned) late John Ritter, Bryan Cranston, Brenda Strong, and Will Estes, respectively.
If you happen across it, I strongly recommend giving it your time, if only for that batshit nuts finale.