Dan Curtis, the creator and producer of such out-of-the-ordinary TV classics as the willfully offbeat gothic soap opera Dark Shadows and the proto-X-Files series The Night Stalker, remains best known for the Zuni fetish do... more »ll that terrorizes Karen Black in Trilogy of Terror. The wild-eyed doll, with its snapping jaws and screeching yells, borders on camp, yet its relentless attacks and single-minded, homicidal drive make it an absolutely terrifying figure in the climactic chapter of this trilogy of short films based on stories by Richard Matheson. In the first story, "Julie," Karen Black plays a mousy college professor blackmailed by an obsessed student, and in "Millicent and Therese" she plays sisters consumed with an intense hatred of one another that comes to a head when their father dies. Both of these films conclude with Twilight Zone-ish twists and are more clever than gripping, kept alive mostly by Black's gleefully theatrical performances. With "Amelia," however, Black delivers an almost solo show, playing against the famous Zuni fetish doll, a wooden statue that comes to life when the a protective chain slips off the figure and releases the evil spirit. Curtis turns her apartment into a claustrophobic cage trapping the increasingly hysterical woman as the unstoppable figure hacks at her legs with a kitchen knife and chomps down on her arms and neck with the relentless intensity of a bulldog. It's still a classic of small-screen horror. --Sean Axmaker« less
TRILOGY OF TERROR: The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 10/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This very good three-part 1970s-era TV movie is a veritable cornucopia of talent. Based on stories by well-known genre author Richard Matheson and directed by Dan Curtis of DARK SHADOWS fame, this film boasts Karen Black (EASY RIDER; FIVE EASY PIECES; THE GREAT GATSBY) in four separate roles, with two teleplays scripted by William F. Nolan (co-author of the famous novel LOGAN'S RUN) and one--the best of the lot--scripted by Matheson. Also appearing in supporting roles are well-known actors George Gaynes and Gregory Harrison.Story one, "Julie," is an intentionally ambiguous witchcraft tale in which Black portrays a bookish college professor who isn't quite what she seems. The story contains some very subtle rape and S&M innuendo, and there is a fun little twist to the ending. "Millicent and Therese," the second offering, is the weakest of the lot. Although Black does a fine job in the dual role of bickering "sisters," the audience can see the ending coming from miles away. The final and strongest of the three stories, "Amelia," is based on Matheson's famous short-story "Prey" about a voodoo fetish doll that comes to life and hunts down a woman in her midtown apartment. The ending to this one is very creepy.All in all, TRILOGY OF TERROR is a worthy little horror flick. Though it is a TV movie á la 1975 and therefore suffers from some of the low-budget production qualities common to such, it certainly offers some fun moments of dark humor and a few genuine scares. The print used to make the DVD has some noticeable scratches and spots that could've been cleaned up digitally, but it's still definitely worth the price of admission."
Finally again on DVD
Keith Trainor | Coral Springs, Florida United States | 09/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE NEW 2006 SPECIAL EDITION VERSION. WORTH BUYING. I LOVE IT. When I first saw this on TV in the 1970's it scared me half to death. Karen Black stars in 3 short stories. But as many reviewers here have posted, the most famous is the final story called Amelia about a woman who buys a doll for a boyfriend which comes to life and chases her around her apartment like a rabid animal. In my opinion it is the third story that has caused Trilogy of Terror to be remembered after all these years. The third story is a classic among terror films. In 1999 another company (Anchor Bay) released this on DVD but after they sold out their batch I don't think they released anymore. That is why if you find someone selling it on Amazon or elsewhere you can expect to pay up to $500 for it. I bought one at a Horror Movie convention and it turned up being a bootleg and when I took it home it didn't play. I lost my money. Finally it is out again. This time by a different company and I am impressed with this version. The film has been completely restored and is crystal clear like you are watching it back when it was first released. I was highly impressed with the visual restoration. Exceeded my expecations here. The interviews with Karen Black and writer Matheson are great and informative. Karen looks great for her age and, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated actresses. Just a joy to watch. I haven't yet watched the entire disc from start to finish. Truthfully, I got if for the third story only and if that was all the disc had I still would of bought it. Not to say the first two stories aren't bad. They are actually pretty good. But if you asked a 100 people why they like Trilogy of Terror...they will likely mention the third story about the Doll. The idea of a doll that comes to life and tries to kill is not new anymore and has been done repeatedly ever since. Think Chucky. But Trilogy of Terror I believe was the first to come out with it and what makes it work is that the doll is creepy looking. Another reason this was so successful at the time is the novelty of it all. Back when it first aired in the 1970's horror stuff, for the most part, was less gory. The story about the doll is only 20 minutes long but what they do in those 20 minutes is amazing. If you have never seen it before you likely will laugh since the special effects look a little cheesy now. They don't hold up well. In my opinion...nothing beats the magic of seeing it back then and also seeing it for the first time. Now that I watch it I know what happens throughout the whole story. But if you haven't watched it before and you can watch it for the story and not try to compare it to special effects of today...you will likely appreciate it. The acting of Karen Black alone is worth watching. She makes all 3 stories work. She makes them memorable. I would of bought this if it had the third segment only and if it had no bonus material. On a side note...they came out a couple of years ago with a replica of the doll. I was lucky enough to get a limited edition one of only 500 made. The limited edition had a green outfit on. Not what it wears in the movie. They then sold a massed produced one with a brown outfit. But it seems that everywhere you look everyplace is sold out of this doll. I gave this five stars for those buying this that are collectors or who watched it back in the 1970's and want to see it again restored in all its glory. If you are buying it now to see for the first time you will likely laugh more than being scared and will be disappointed wondering what all the fuss is about. Buy it with an open mind and get lost in the story and you will not be disappointed."
An all time great horror anthology classic!
John Lindsey | Socorro, New Mexico USA. | 09/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of three stories focusing on women characters featuring b-movie actress Karen Black in four roles starts off with the first tale called "Julie" has a college professor dating a student only to find out he's trying to kill her, next is "Millicent and Therese" about two sisters who live with each other are hellbent on killing each other off and finally "Amelia" has a woman being terrorized by an evil African Zuni fetish doll.
A classic made-for-TV horror anthology from the writer of "The Twilight Zone" Richard Matheson and the creator of "Dark Shadows" Dan Curtis combines three original tales of terror with superb performances by Ms. Black to make an all-time horror classic of the 70's. Each has a stylish twist at the end of all three stories and the real star of the show besides Ms. Black is the famed African Zuni Fetish doll which is still the king of all killer dolls so move over Chucky or Blade from "Puppet Master".
This special edition DVD has good picture and sound quality with two featurettes and one interview, this is a must have for fans of horror, killer doll movies and horror anthologies."
D. Barreto | Bronx, NY United States | 01/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Wow, I had no idea so many other people were traumitized by this film when they were kids! I don't feel so alone now. My sister and I saw this film back in the early 80s and it scared the living crap out of me. I couldn't sleep for maybe 2 weeks straight after watching it. I kept thinking that damn doll was underneath my bed or opening my door. Every little noise that I heard in my room I thought was that bastard walking around my bed. UGH I never wanna go through that again! I used to hate taking baths cause of that scene where she tries to drown it in the tub and it pops it's ugly head out of the water. To this very day, I see a green old suitcase and I think of her trying to capture it in there. What I don't get is WHY on earth would she even buy such a hideous looking thing in the first place! I'd never bring such an evil looking thing like that into my living room and I would have tossed it outside the window the second I got my hands on it. The damn doll is scary enough just looking at it, when you add him running around like a maniac with that knife and making that horrible screaming sound well it's just a zillion times worse. I am 27 years old now and I have seen this movie since I was a child and I STILL find it very frightening. I try to laugh at how ridiculous the whole thing is but I can't get over my fear of it. To this day I won't watch it, I saw it on DVD the other day in a store and I nearly freaked just seeing the cover. I hope the people that made this movie know how many children and adults it has terrified over the years. Karen Black is once scary chick! She will always remind me of that movie and therefore I can never watch one of her movies again lol. We should start a Trilogy of Terror therapy group!! lol
***EDITED FOR NEW SPECIAL EDITION DVD***
I was thrilled to hear Dark Sky Films was re-releasing this tv movie on DVD. It had been very hard to find the original Anchor Bay version anywhere. Plus this one is loaded with special features! I love the commentary and featurettes. Karen Black still looks good after 30 years and I loved hearing her talk about the difficulties of working with the doll. The picture quality looks fabulous too, almost as if it were airing originally for the first time. The special effects may be cheesy and fake but it still packs a punch when it comes to it's creepiness. Using mostly stop motion animation and fast editing, the Zuni doll seems to come alive and run around like a maniac. It's still creepy no matter how ridiculously fake it looks. What makes this doll so evil compared to Chucky and other imitations is the way it looks. It's demonic looking even when it's just still in the box. It looks evil and angry and ready to kill. It cannot be reasoned with and it has a relentless pursuit to kill poor Karen Black. For me that is what makes it truly terrifying. Plus it's so damn fast! Those eery sounds it makes as it's running around with the knife are still frightening to hear, most especially towards the end when it's in the oven. Oh and that ending is still scary to watch even though you know it's coming! It's a 30 minute segment that has influenced and terrorized people for over 30 years and for that it should be commended. I'm sure they had no idea they would still be talking about it to this day. I have yet to watch the first two stories, but I'm sure they will never be as creepy as "Amelia". Nothing can top that one! "
Look out for the Zuni!!!
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 09/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Back in the heyday of Dark Shadows Dan Curtis did some telly movies. Frankenstein with Robert Foxworth, The Norliss Tapes with Roy Thinnes, The Night Stalker with Darren Mcgavin, Scream of the Wolf with Clint Walker and Peter Graves, then eventually went on to do bigger projects like The Winds of War and War and Remembrance with Robert Mitchum. During that salad days of the mid 1970s, he did a nifty "novella" style movie called Trilogy of Terror with Karen Black. He went on to use Black in Burnt Offerings the following year.
It's a three story showcase, displaying the varied talents of Black, but it's in the last one where Curtis breaks out and really does something memorable.
The first novella tale is "Julie". This tell was never fully fleshed out about a college professor who has dark secrets. Nice quirky ending keeps this one for being average.
The second is "Millicent and Therese". After the promise of "Julie", I really expected a bit more from this rather obvious tale. Is good fun, just nothing special. Still a fine showcase for Black to show what she can do. It was just so all totally out there, no twist of the screw to make it more.
"Amelia" The final one is based on Richard Matheson's Prey, and it outstanding. Once you see these story you will never forget the Zuni warrior that comes to life. Amelia is totally abused by her possessive and controlling mother. She tries to break these ties that bind, but she is no match. She buys a Zuni doll and it comes to life. No spoiler there. You can see that by the cover. It's the story that is amazing. Black's ending is original and memorable.
This was low budget telly movie remember, so accept the quality as not motion picture level.
Still a GREAT Halloween movie and tribute to Curtis who died March '' this year."