It’s sad when you look at a film and realized it’s actually a step-down for John Ritter from his jackass days on “Three’s Company”. Here’s a guy who, at one point, was a fairly major figure on American television. And there he is looking bloated and bored in a cruddy, low-budget trilogy of rotten stories called “Terror Tract”. Among Hollywood big wheels this is is known as “The Sally Struthers Effect”.
In our feature presentation, smarmy real estate agent Bob Carter (Ritter) is trying to get a young couple to buy a house. Unfortunately, the homes that are available have come on the market due to the murder of their owners. This is the kind of info that can really blow a sale.
Even though Carter knows this, he feels compelled to tell the prospective buyers each grisly tale of murder in detail. Carter’s making good money selling houses, so he wants this sale very badly. He’s a desperate man in a desperately mediocre movie.
The first tale of homicide involves a married woman and her palooka lover who ends up murdering her enraged husband when he finds out the misses is getting it on with the young grease monkey. After offing the Type A personality hubby, the new widow is all ready to settle-down with her punchy boyfriend. But, right away, things start going wrong. The husband’s Deliverance-style redneck cop friend starts nosing around and the bad wife is having some jarring nightmares of Mr. Wonderful coming back for revenge.
Needless to say, this story kills the sale at House Number One. Of course, the next house comes with its own wacky little tale: A lovely couple and their perky yet cranky little daughter find a cute, little monkey in their backyard. The chipper youngster wants to keep the animal as a pet–but her Dad isn’t so sure. Especially after the hairy little punk starts taking charge. The pint-sized primate is driving a real wedge between this family and something has to give.
The crafty little monkey kills the family pooch and suburban daddio hires a musclebound thug to put his mangy a*s down. Alas, the steroid-amped dude is no match for the brainy furball, and he quickly turns up as dead as Denny Terrio’s career. So, now it’s a full-out war between man and monkey, and the “stunning” conclusion is pretty damn silly. It just goes to show that you’re in big trouble if you can be outsmarted by a circus animal.
Of course, at House Number Three Realtor Carter is gabbing it up again about the bad goings on with the previous owners: It’s seems that the owners’ teenage son, Sean, goes to a lady psychiatrist and starts bitching about his troubles. One of which is that he’s having telepathic visions of the recent murders of several young females–including his ex-girlfriend. The psychiatrist thinks he’s just a deranged kook and tapes the entire conversation. The bratty teens soon impales himself on some pointy object and the real killer shows up and offs the doc. It’s jaw-droppingly unimpressive stuff. And when this last story again discourages the young couple, John Ritter goes into homicidal ham-acting mode. It’s Jack Tripper with a taste for blood. Shatner would be proud.
It looks like playing the gay dude in “Slingblade” is going to be the zenith of Ritter’s contribution to cinema. “Terror Tract” is only a shameful footnote in the career of a guy whose whole career is a shameful footnote.