I've never quite worked out why so much horror has to be low budget and cheesy, although I suppose if you can frighten the audience for pence, then there's no need to spend pounds. Not being a great horror fan, low budget flicks such as Terror Tract are generally ignored by me in the DVD shop (this not having a theatrical release) and similarly, such scores are not ones I would aspire to own. However, when a composer starts to make it onto decent films, the back catalogue becomes ripe for review and such is the case with Brian Tyler and his score to Terror Tract. Of course, it doesn't matter how good he is now, if an older score isn't worth hearing, then it's not worth hearing. Fortunately, Terror Tract is surprisingly good.
The Main Title sets a surprisingly strident tone, something of a cross between Toto's Dune by way of Cliff Eidelman's ominous Star Trek VI. Even if it seems somehow more appropriate for a dark comic book superhero than a suburban horror, it's still memorable even though it appears infrequently thereafter. Animal Farm is surprisingly light - one of a few that break up the mood a little - but the suburban Goldsmithian style seems an appropriate setup. The disappointingly brief, and curiously titled, Husband Attacks continues reprises the style with a bouncing melody that could be straight from the early scenes of Gremlins. The remaining quieter moments are generally a somewhat less upbeat and moments such as Memory feature a cliché, but effective, celesta music box tune. Where many horror scores are tedious and suspenseful until the second half, Terror Tract maintains a good balance between suspense and action, so if one or other becomes a chore, it's only a couple of minutes before a change of pace.
It's not often these days that composers can write horror music which translates successfully to CD, but here, Brian Tyler does an admirable job. Instead of constant skittishness and squealing, the approach here is much more big boned in the grander Christopher Young or Jerry Goldsmith mold. Indeed, the influence of both is abundant throughout, but such films are rarely produced in a way that gives the composer a free reign. Given the budget limitations, that the orchestra doesn't sound distinctly smaller than usual is quite an achievement, although the frequent tuttis help hype the volume and impact. It does mean that the louder parts can become a touch grating and, unfortunately, not all the quieter moments are consistently engaging. However, a score that has enough good moments to be worth hearing, but not quite enough of a distinct personality to stand out. Still, as Tyler's profile increases, Terror Tract is an early work worthy of discovery.