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What’s it About?

Three bizarre horror stories all of which star Karen Black in four different roles playing tormented women.

“Trilogy Of Terror”

Directed by Dan Curtis

8 out of 10

Dammit, they don’t make these like they used to. Where are our Moon of the Wolf’s? Or our Don’t be Afraid of the Dark’s? Remember when even TV shows were frightening? I do and I miss those old days of cheesy “Monster Movie of the Week” airings of ghosts, goblins and even weird funky “Zuni” dolls. Trilogy of Terror is the brain child of Dan Curtis.  The same Dan Curtis that brought us Dark Shadows, Burnt Offerings and Dracula with Jack Palance.

Trilogy of Terror stars Karen Black in a brilliant TV performance. Black manages to star in the three segments of this neat little horror gem from 1975. Curtis had shot the movie as a pilot for an anthology series ala Night Gallery but it never saw the light of day. No loss though. What we end up with is a ghoulish and entertaining TV horror flick that still manages to creep out even the most jaded horror movie fan.

The brilliant writer Richard Matheson (Twilight Zone, Duel, I Am Legend) wrote 2 of the 3 installments while scribe William F Nolan (Logan’s Run, Burnt Offerings) handles the first and co-writes the second.  The film consists of stories that are not at all related and the titles are the names of the 3 different characters or protagonists that Black plays. The first story in Trilogy of Terror is “Julie” which is about a College English Teacher played by Black who has caught the eye of Chad (Robert Burton) a student of hers. He dotes on her and has daydreams during class about having a fling with Julie. After he tells his friend and he tells him never to get mixed up with teachers he eventually works up enough nerve to ask her out and after some time she decides to accept.

Chad turns out to be a douche bag and he spikes her drink while at a drive in. He knocks her out and at a motel takes some provocative photos of her. After she wakes and is shown the photos he blackmails her in order for her to continue dating him, But in typical Dan Curtis fashion the shoe seems to be on the other foot regarding Chad and Julie. Is Julie really the one manipulating Chad or does Chad have his hooks in her? Black turns out to be a balls to the wall Femme Fatale in this entry that has a great twist at the end, much to Chad’s chagrin…

The Second installment is the great “Millicent and Therese” where we get Black playing 2 roles here. A pair of Sisters with a twisted case of sibling rivalry. Millicent is quaint, unassuming and a bit uptight and prude while her sister, Therese, is a outspoken, brash and saucy. They are total opposites. Millicent seems to think that Therese is wantonly evil and she dislikes her sister so much that she plants a funky voodoo talisman to put a curse on her and kill her. After it succeeds Therese is found dead but Millicent can’t be found anywhere and eventually we find out from a friend of Millicent what the truth behind this twisted murder really is. It’s a shocker right out of a Robert Bloch novel.

The last installment is the wildly popular “Amelia’ which Matheson wrote based on a short story of his called “Prey” It is a fan favorite because it contains a murderous little son of a bitch called a “Zuni” Doll. Amelia brings it home and reads a small scroll that came with it that claims that the gold chain it’s adorned with holds the spirit of “He Who Kills”  at bay. So after she blows her pain in the ass  Mother off from a get together the Zuni doll’s chain becomes unhinged and falls off. uh oh. That isn’t good.

What happens next is probably why the movie has retained such a huge cult following. An intense and very scary showdown between this little Zuni Fetish doll and Amelia. The doll is loose and it’s now brandishing a knife that he uses to cut up Amelia’s ankle. The fight moves into the bathroom and then eventually the kitchen where she succeeds in pitching it into the oven and setting it on fire.

That Zuni doll, which looks so damn spooky and has huge sharp teeth seems like it’s been overpowered. Or has it? The ending is of course very appropriate and classic. Black wraps it up with a broad evil smile that is sure to give some newcomers nightmares. She does it  all while holding a very big and sharp knife that she repeatedly stabs into the floor.  It seems like that date with Mother is on after all…

So, if you have never seen this classic anthology TV movie, do so, quickly. It has tension, mood, a scary score by TV music icon Bob Cobert who brought us Dark Shadows and The Night Stalker. The real reason to watch this though, is Karen Black. She owns this movie and her performances in all 3 episodes is just insanely fierce and full of energy. Look out for a very youthful Gregory Harrison and “Dark Shadows” alum John Karlen in bit roles. The camera work is astounding to watch as well. We get lost in dark corridors and tight spaces especially in “Amelia” It rivals some very well crafted photography from other horror films of that era. All around a great scary TV movie that holds up well and still retains a creepy as shit terror factor. Enjoy the full movie below or over @ You Tube.