Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Days of Halloween - Day 26 - Movie

Trilogy of Terror (1975) is a made for tv anthology movie made up of, as the title suggests, three stories, all horror related. The stories also all feature Karen Black as a different character in each one. The tales are simply named after these characters.

"Julie" appears to be something of a date rape turned blackmail plot by a college student which turns his professor into something of a sex slave for him, but not everything is what it appears to be.

"Millicent and Therese" features Black in a dual role as two sisters who are polar opposites. Millicent is repressed and almost puritanical, while Therese is an all around bad girl whose wicked ways Millicent is determined to stop.

"Amelia" is the story that everyone remembers and caused many a sleepless night for children living in the 70s who caught this on tv. Here, a woman trying to get out from under her mother's thumb buys a Zuni fetish doll for the new man in her life. The doll is supposed to house the spirit of a warrior who can bring the doll to life if a gold chain wrapped around its midsection is removed. Guess what falls off the doll?

The stories are all fine, if a bit dated, with scripts by William F. Nolan and Richard Matheson based on stories by Matheson. Their twists are predictable pretty much from the beginning, and producer/director Dan Curtis who brought to the world many classic television horrors of this era such as Dark Shadows and Kolchak: The Night Stalker, directs these pieces with such a formal stagey manner that it's difficult not to be aware that you are watching actors performing rather than characters living. He only finally lets loose a little bit with some potent rapid POV camera work and swift editing in the final segment turning the malicious assault by the Zuni fetish into some charged with viciousness and danger, making the doll a serious threat. Black is fine, but the characters aren't really diverse enough to make this a showcase for the range of her abilities as an actress, and again, Curtis' direction makes us all too aware Black acting out these characters vs Black transforming into these characters.

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