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The Movie: Terror Tract (2000)

Thanks to reader Dan Spitzley for recommending this movie! Join the conversation in the comments and I might feature a movie you suggest!

Anthology horror is a love of mine. I’ll usually go out of my way to check out an anthology horror movie, even if I’m pretty sure it will fall below my incredibly low standards. The format allows for some great fun and even the occasional appearance from an actor you recognize. So, when a reader alerted me to an anthology horror film called Terror Tract that featured both John Ritter and Bryan Cranston, I jumped on it like I was a crazy monkey pouncing on top of a future Emmy winner.

OK, some context for that simile: Bryan Cranston is attacked by a little monkey in one of the segments. That should have you running to find this movie already, but let’s break this down first before I heap some praise on that story. The wraparound tale, “Make Me An Offer”, is actually a fairly inspired hub for the stories. John Ritter plays a real estate agent showing off some houses to a young couple. He’s forced to tell them if anyone died in the house and that’s the jumping off point to the stories. There seems to be some kind of need for him to sell a house before the day is over, and while the resolution to the story isn’t fantastic, it leads to a climax that is hilariously ghoulish and sends the movie out on a high note.

The first story, “Nightmare”, is easily the weakest of the bunch. It’s a typical Tales from the Crypt yarn about a cheating wife and her vengeful husband who returns from the grave. It’s great seeing TV staple Fredric Lehne as the zombie husband, but the story is predictable and the movie doesn’t have the budget to achieve a great zombie.

Now comes the reason Terror Tract deserves to be mentioned. “Bobo” is the middle segment and it’s about a random monkey a little girl finds in her backyard. It’s one of those organ grinder kinds of monkeys. The little girl’s dad is played by Bryan Cranston and he is operating at full Cranston. The monkey starts fuckin’ about and eventually kills the family dog and even Cranston wife! So, he gets serious and goes to war with the monkey. It’s a blast of a segment that perfectly toes the line between absurd and genuine. And if you need more proof this is worth your time, Bryan Cranston gets to have scenes like this:

And that’s not even nearly the best part of his performance. You also get this gem:

The story ends on a surprisingly dark note, but this is basically a cheaper take on something like Of Unkown Origin but with a monkey and the dad from Malcolm in the Middle. Priceless.

Sadly, the third entry, “Come to Granny”, isn’t nearly as fun. It features a young man confessing to a shrink that he’s been having visions of a psychotic killer that’s on the loose. The psychiatrist begins to suspect that this guy IS the killer – the slightly goofy idea that the killer wears an old lady mask and is called the Granny Killer is cute – and then things end about how you’d expect them.

Honestly, this reminded me a lot of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie; the wraparound is fun and two out of three of the stories are kind of okay-ish, but the middle entry is a wackadoo man vs. animal tale that makes the whole deal worth it. Happy I got alerted to this one.

Is It Worth Mentioning?: Did you even watch those Bryan Cranston clips? Hunt this one down just for “Bobo.” You won’t regret it.

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