Cherry Falls / Terror Tract (double feature)
USA Networks, the good folks who brought you such indelible cinema classics as well... we can't actually think of any have released their first double-feature horror disc, Cherry Falls / Terror Tract, purporting it to offer "two USA modern horror classics" on a single platter for one low price. But only a viewer's interest in all things camp will decide whether this release is something to celebrate or bemoan. The first offering, Cherry Falls, is a pretty standard "dead teenager" flick revolving around a murderer and his (or her?) quest to bump off a bunch of high-school students for no readily apparent reason. The twist: the killer only slaughters virgins. You can probably guess what the student body does to ensure its survival. Although clearly influenced by the hip horror-comedy mix of Wes Craven's Scream trilogy, Cherry Falls brings nothing new to the genre; in fact, it lifts an entire subplot straight from the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie. Even so, Cherry Falls isn't bad per se but filled as it is with the usual genre clichés, it probably won't "wow" anyone with its innovation. Terror Tract, the better of the two films, stars a very plump and bearded John Ritter (looking far more like Star Trek's Commander Riker than our old TV buddy Jack Tripper). The movie's plot is nothing new: Ritter plays an ambitious real estate agent who'll do anything (and we do mean anything!) to close the deal on three houses with troubled pasts. But what elevates Terror Tract from a string of tedious clichés into a thoroughly enjoyable diversion is the film's cheerful yet sadistic streak of dark humor, which surfaces in the movie's very first scene (involving the fate of a mischievous cat) and never dissipates. It's worth noting that much of the story is told via flashback, meaning that Ritter's character does little more than bookend the movie. But how can anyone resist a film that contains the immortal line "Did you notice anything unusual about that monkey?" It's decent of USA Networks to include two movies on this DVD release, since that's the extent of the special features offered here no other goodies are included, unless you consider chapter-selection something to shout about. Still, having two relatively tasty slices of campy cinematic fromage on the same disc (and at a rock-bottom price) may allow many Supplement Snobs to overlook this disc's dearth of freebies. Both films feature nice (albeit non-anamorphic) widescreen transfers. Keep-case.