A recent attempt to revive the horror anthology genre, "Terror Tract" (what a title; how about "Bloody Backyard"? "Horror Homestead"?) won Best Feature at the 2001 Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival. It's always a bad sign when a film's producers feel compelled to brag about awards no one's ever heard of.A good horror anthology film is even rarer than a good standard horror flick; even the better ones (Trilogy of Terror, the Creepshow flicks, Cat's Eye) are uneven at best. Terror Tract follows in the not-so-grand tradition. Here, we have three horror tales linked together with a framing sequence involving John Ritter as a real estate agent. He's trying to sell a home in a nice suburban neighborhood to a young couple...but each house, he's forced to admit, comes with some unpleasant history.
Nothing in Terror Tract improves on the fairly original framing device (let's ignore the apparent Blue Velvet steal that opens the film). The stories themselves are uniformly banal and silly, and there isn't a scare scene in this movie that isn't telegraphed well in advance; directors Clint Hutchison and Lance W. Dreesen seem to have overdosed on E.C. Comics, specifically on cheesy Vault of Horror-style twist endings. They're not the only ones: Some of us are familiar enough with this sort of material to realize that it's been done much better before.
The first tale deals with an adulterous couple who murder the woman's husband. They dump the body in the lake--don't they know that corpses disposed in this fashion invariably come back to life and kill people? The second story has a pre-teen girl who becomes obsessed with a wild monkey. Her father doesn't approve. Guess what happens next? The third segment is a serial-killer piece with a surprise ending I guessed literally in the first minute.
The directors try like mad to wring suspense out of all this, but they succeed only in dragging out utterly predictable material. But the film isn't terrible, exactly; it's slickly produced and watchable. It may be worth watching for the endearingly loopy final scene, in which John Ritter goes stark raving nuts while the neighborhood erupts in random violence all around him.But I'm sure you can do better.