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Monday, October 3, 2011

Trilogy Of Terror

      "Trilogy Of Terror", directed by the great Dan Curtis and based on three short stories by Richard Matheson, is one of the most infamous made-for-tv movies of all time.  "Trilogy Of Terror" has cemented its status in the annals of horror and pop culture.  This scared the living bejesus out of pretty much everybody when it first aired back in 1975 as the ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK, and it's one of the best made tv horror movies of all time.  Although the final act of "Trilogy Of Terror" usually gets all the attention, all three stories are actually quite good.  Karen takes on three different roles in this tv frightfest, and earned herself some legendary cult status in the process.

     The first story, "Julie", finds Chad (Robert Burton), becoming obsessed with his mousy college English professor, played by Black.  Chad finally asks her out on a date, and Julie accepts.  But Chad has sinister motives, as he plans to drug her and take racy photos so he can blackmail her.  But little does he know that she is involved with the supernatural, and suddenly the tables are turned on him...  It's a quiet and creepy story that starts the film off on a strong point.

     The second story, "Millicent/Therese", concerns two sisters (both played by Black) who hate each other.  One of the sisters is plotting the demise of the other, but little does she know of the surprises in store for both.  It's probably the weakest of the stories (although Black portraying a sashaying floozy is certainly campy), but sometimes I wonder if they didn't purposely put a weak story in the middle, just to catch us off guard for the shocking finale.

     Easily the most effective and frightening is the third and final act of "Trilogy Of Terror", entitled ""Amelia", or sometimes known as "Prey".  The story is very simple, actually.  Karen Black buys an African fertility doll as a gift to her boyfriend, and takes it back to her apartment to give it to him the next day. However, alone in her apartment that night, she finds it suddenly and shockingly coming to life and hellbent on killing her.  It's this scene that puts this little tv shocker in the pantheon of such horror icons as Damien, Michael Myers, and Carrie.

     This was supremely scary stuff back in the day- I know I didn't see it when it first aired, but it's been shown so many times on the late show that I probably saw a repeat of it around 1982 or 83...  and it literally caused me to sleep with the lights on for at least a week.  Granted, I was only ten or eleven when I first saw this, but even today it's still rather shocking and disturbing.  Even for a 1975 made-for-tv movie, the effects are impressive.  This is a gleefully terrifying sequence, one that completely takes you off-guard and is the stuff of nightmares.

     "Trilogy Of Terror" is truly one of the most famous and well-loved of all the fantastic tv horror flicks from the 70s and 80s.  You can guarantee an October showing of it somewhere on cable, and the doll is a highly sought-after collectible.  I grew up on this stuff, and as much as I love retro tv horror, "Trilogy Of Terror" is a personal favorite.  It's available on Netflix, and if you haven't discovered the awesomeness that is Karen Black, not to mention the wonderfully weird work of Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson, then you are totally missing out.


Anonymous said...

I'm confused as to what happened to I Love Scary Stuff? This appears to be the same thing. I follow this blog on a semi regular basis during the year, but check it everyday during Halloween month. All of a sudden, a few days ago, Scary Stuff was gone.

Waxdude said...

Sorry for any confusion- it's back!

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