31 Days of Horror – ‘Trilogy of Terror’

Third segment of horror anthology delivers unforgettable chills, bleak finale

Horror anthologies are all the rage, from the “V/H/S” series to the classic “Creepshow” template.

In 1975, actress Karen Black headlined a “Trilogy of Terror” that predated the trend. The TV movie did more than that.

It introduced us to a Zuni fetish doll which became a horror institution.

Trilogy Of Terror Trailer 1975

Few folks discuss the first two segments of Black’s “Trilogy,” all of which sprang from the mind of author Richard Matheson. The first follows Black’s character, a lonely college professor, as she navigates a tumultuous date with one of her students.

The second gives Black two roles. She plays squabbling sisters with murder on their minds.

The third and final segment, “Amelia,” is the corker. The screenplay, actually penned by Matheson, follows a woman spending a quiet evening in her big-city apartment. She’s frustrated by a heated call with her controlling mother, and she opts to cancel a date with her beau for some solitude.

That means she can’t had her boyfriend his birthday gift, a Zuni fetish doll armed with a spear and necklace. The latter item, she’s told, is meant to keep the creature’s spirit in check.

So guess what falls off mid-segment?

The ensuing battle may be limited by the era’s special effects, but the effective edits and glorious sound design more than make up for those issues.

The power of that segment has made “Trilogy of Terror” a Halloween cult classic. And for very good reasons.

Black, who died in 2013, once told an interviewer how she helped shaped the now-iconic segment. Not only did she create dialogue on the fly she also shaped the look of the film’s final moments.

I also thought in order to look more like the doll at the end, I should have these little sharp teeth. The director, Dan, said that would look really silly and over done. But he said we’ll make them and see how they look. So the teeth were my idea. And then, when we shot it I put on the make-up that darkened my eyes to show there was a change in her.

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