Friday, October 5, 2018

Halloween 2018 #6: Trilogy of Terror *** (1975)

Trilogy of Terror was a made for television anthology film showcasing the talents of writer Richard Matheson and actress Karen Black. Black stars in all three stories and plays four different characters.

Part I - Julie

An introverted literature professor finds herself receiving unwanted attention from one of her students, a male chauvinist with a devious agenda. She agrees to go on a date with him, but then he gets way inappropriate, attempting an offense of the Bill Cosby variety. But Julie turns the tables on him in ways he could never imagine. A macabre twist ending in The Twilight Zone tradition.

Part II - Millicent and Therese

Black plays two sisters: one a spinster, the other a femme fatale. They are in a rivalry over their father's inheritance. While this section moves a bit slow, the real draw is watching Black play two opposing characters. Not so much a horror tale, but more of a suspense play.

Part III - Amelia

Based on Matheson's short story "Prey", it's by far the best of the three. Amelia has finally started to live on her own away from the dominance of her mother. She's bought a Zuni Fetish doll that carries a sharp spear as a birthday gift for her boyfriend. When the doll comes alive Amelia finds herself fighting for her life. Using a modern apartment as a battlefield is a highlight, first rate film making. Black's physically demanding performance makes this one a must see.


With an impressive list of New Hollywood credits, Trilogy of Terror made for a perfect showcase of Karen Black's range as an actor. She's deceptively evil in the first part, a split personality in the second, and an ordinary woman in an extraordinary situation. 

TV horror films of the 1970s are under going serious reevaluation. They have a cult following among those who came of age in the era, but are also finding a new audience. Many of them never made it to home video release, so they were hard to find for years. but that's also changing. A whole new audience is poised to discover these films and see their originality and innovative approach to the horror genre. Trilogy of Horror makes for a logical starting point.

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