A Passion For Horror
Trilogy of Terror (1975)
Directed by Dan Curtis
Trilogy of Terror is a TV horror movie from 1975. The movie is an anthology of three short stories produced under the direction of Dan Curtis. It was first aired on March 4, 1975, on US TV as the ABC movie of the week. The movie was initially produced as a pilot episode for a new TV series. The series never left the planning stage, but Trilogy of Terror proved to be a hit with viewers and soon attained cult status.
All three segments were based on stories
written by Richard Matheson and the actress Karen Black played the main
character in every segment. Although this is a somewhat unusual setup
it is truly amazing to see an actress play so many varied roles within
the same production and it is incredible to see how unique and
individual Black makes each character appear. As one character she
looks very drab and dowdy and maiden auntish, but in another role the
word 'sex bomb' is probably the most fitting description. Then again,
in some parts of the movie 'scary' is the only word that will do.
The first story is called "Julie". Black plays a rather plain-Jane high school teacher called Julie Eldridge. Julie's work appears to be her only interest in life, but her life becomes a lot more interesting when one of her students, Chad (Robert Burton), develops a sudden interest in her and begins and tells his friend, "I wonder what she looks like underneath all those clothes."
It isn't long before Chad has his answer, but the devious young man has to drug his teacher to get it and even takes a few snapshot of her sprawled unconscious on a hotel room bed.
The pictures come in very useful for blackmailing
his teacher into allowing him second helpings, but Chad's hold over
Julie is not as strong as he thinks and all his extracurricular
activities come to a bad end when Julie gets sick of his games and
educates him about the real nature of their relationship.
This nasty little tale provides a double helping of Karen Black. She plays warring sisters Millicent and Therese. Millicent is the good sister, who looks like the kind of woman you might find arranging the flowers in church. Therese looks more like the kind of woman who might get banned from church for trying to deflower the vicar. It's unlikely that Therese would venture near a church though, because she is much more interested in satanic rituals and other occult matters.
The story begins just after their father's funeral. Millicent is trying to warn her sister's boyfriend, Thomas (John Karlin), about Therese's evil ways. She tells him Therese and their father had an incestuous relationship and that she was also responsible for their mother's death. "By her own admission, Satan guides her," Millicent warns Thomas and finally manages to get him to turn his back on Therese.
The relationship between the two sisters goes
downhill fast after this and Millicent begins to fear for her life, but
when she tries to defeat her sister by playing her at her own game, and
turns to occult methods, both women are forced to pay the price of
"Amelia" is often considered to be the darkest of the three stories. Black plays Amelia and stars alongside a small Zuni fetish doll that turn out to be big trouble.
Amelia has a domineering mother so she has moved into a friend's apartment to look after it while they are away, but she hasn't broken completely free of her mother. She visits her two or three times a week and has a night on the town with her every Friday.
Amelia upsets her mother's routine when she rings to cancel their night out because it is her boyfriend's birthday and Amelia has promised to spend the evening with him instead. Amelia's mother does her best to make her feel guilty and then hangs up on her when she cannot have her own way, but a sulking mother soon becomes the least of the young woman's problems.
Amelia's boyfriend is an anthropologist so she has bought him a Zuni Fetish doll as a gift for his birthday. According to the accompanying scroll the doll's wooden body contains the spirit of Zuni hunter and it is most important the gold chain is not removed from its waist. If it is the spirit and the doll will become one, allowing the doll will come to life, and with a name like 'He Who Kills' that can only mean trouble. Unfortunately for Amelia the chain falls from the dolls waist and the scroll's warning proves to be all too true. Amelia's battle with the crazed Zuni fetish doll is as memorable as it is chilling and the the way the story ends is sure to take many viewers by surprise.
Trilogy of Terror is movie all horror fans should try and see at least once and it will probably be of particular interest to viewers who enjoyed similar anthology-type movies such as From Beyond the Grave and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Viewers who enjoyed Dan Curtis' Dead of Night anthology should definitely give this one a try. Trilogy of Terror is probably the darker of the two, but both movies save the best tales until last and it is hard to say which movie boasts the better end segment. Dead of Night's "Bobby" is a very powerful tale, but so is Trilogy of Terror's "Amelia" and the Zuni fetish doll is one of the most unusual foes to ever grace the screen.
4 out of 5.