Trilogy of Terror was a 1975 made for TV thriller that followed three different stories, all written by Richard Matheson and was originally created as a pilot for a horror anthology series. Each story stars Karen Black, playing the role of 4 different characters. The first story, “Julie”, follows an English teacher who gets romantically involved with a student. The second story is “Millicent and Therese” where Black plays two sisters who are at odds at each other, and one of the sisters is convinced that the other is an evil being. The final story is “Amelia”, where the title character purchases a tribal doll for her boyfriend’s birthday that ends up coming to life.
In “Julie”, Chad (Robert Burton) suddenly becomes obsessed with his college English professor, and he creepily watches her in her bedroom from the window outside. He tries to ask her out and she shoots him down, telling him that he’d probably be happier with one of the co-eds on campus, and that it would be against university policy for a teacher to date a student. After some persistence, Chad and Julie go on a date and Chad drugs her, rendering her unconscious so that he can take some racy photos of her – which he can in turn blackmail her with. After an undetermined amount of blackmailing, the professor turns on Chad, informing him that she actually had him under her spell, and that she’s had several young college students that she’s seduced. She turns the tables on him, and the hunter now becomes the prey.
“Millicent and Therese” follows the tale of two sisters who are polar opposites of each other. Millicent is the brunette, studious, responsible sister, and Therese is the blonde, outgoing and EVIL sister – or at least that’s what Millicent believes. Millicent is in contact with her family doctor (George Gaynes) who has been treating her, and lets her know that she needs help in controlling Therese. Therese is involved in the occult – voodoo, black magic, satanism, microwave ovens, etc. and Millicent believes that she must be stopped. After the doctor is ineffective, Millicent takes matters into her own hands and gives Therese a taste of her own medicine by crafting a voodoo doll of Therese to control her wild sister. When the doctor becomes worried by the frantic phone messages of Millicent, he rushes to their house and discovers the horror that is plaguing both sister’s lives.
“Amelia” is the story of a young woman who has recently moved away from her overbearing mother and has been recently seeing a new boyfriend. She buys a tribal doll to give to her boyfriend for his birthday, but has to break plans with her mother to do so. Her mother goes into a tizzy over the change in plans and gives Amelia a guilt trip about not spending time with her. Frustrated, Amelia sets the doll down and inadvertently breaks the gold chain around it’s waist, which is said to keep the spirit of a Zuni hunter in the doll. While she goes to take a bath, the doll disappears, only to be discovered later as a living being that is now hunting her down in her apartment – stabbing her with kitchen knives and chasing her around the place. It’s either Amelia or the doll, and they fight to the death in one of the silliest scenes in TV history.
The first two stories are slow and not really all that scary. They drag along for a while and hit these really obvious twists that are telegraphed throughout their entire stories. If you watch this film, I’d suggest just skipping ahead to the third story – that’s where this movie keeps the bread and butter. The doll chasing this woman around is hilarious, and the whole time it has this curdling scream that makes you wish you where there so you could bash the crap out of it. Most of the time, this doll that’s obviously either being held by a crew member or on the end of a stick is waving this knife around and it’s head is flapping off while it chases this poor woman around her apartment. She eventually catches it in a towel and tries to drown it…. it’s a WOODEN DOLL! How are you gonna drown a wooden doll? Just wrap it in the towel and smash it into the floor a few dozen times, that’ll take care of it.
Trilogy of Terror isn’t very terrifying, and the only real suspense is waiting for the doll to come to life in the final story. Again, skip the first two stories, and spend the 20 minutes watching “Amelia” to get the most out of it. That story makes up for the rest of the film, and if this whole movie was just that last story, I’d give it a 5 out of a 5. My final rating is based on the whole presentation, and based on that fact, Trilogy of Terror gets 3 crazy wooden dolls out of 5.