I'm really digging the vibe my SHOCKtober selections has had lately, which is le comfort. Diving into the list of your favorite horror films and revisiting movies that are perfect to watch--and maybe even best watched--on a Sunday afternoon. Or perhaps a Tuesday evening, as was the case way back in 1975 with...
In keeping with not only the comfort vibes but also the "going back to Final Girl's roots" ethos of this year's celebration, you will be treated (?) to photos of my TV throughout this post, because I have yet to upgrade from my VHS copy of Trilogy of Terror. And because the tape was born last century (though I'm honestly not sure when it fell into my hands), it has seen a lot of action over the years. Wink wink! I mean the picture is pretty cruddy, what did you think I meant?Also, you know what, I'm going to give you the lowdown on this one from the back of the box of that very same VHS tape. Why? Not only because you've probably already seen this movie--heck, three of you called it a favorite in 2020--but because the copy sums it up perfectly. By transcribing it, I'm not working harder, I'm working smarter!
Take three eerie tales based on stories scripted by horror master Richard Matheson, add the many talents of Karen Black, incorporate the adept direction of Dan Curtis, and you have the truly riveting presentation...Trilogy of Terror.
Karen Black stars in each episode of the trilogy, showcasing her many talents. But the real star of the show, the "Zuni Fetish Doll" is one of the most unforgettable creatures in film history. In the third and climatic tale the African head-hunting doll stalks our innocent Ms Black in a frightening battle of survival.
I mean, the box gets it. It's like "Yeah yeah there are three stories but WHO CARES WE JUST WANT THE ZUNI FETISH DOLL." With good reason! But first, I gotta give some shout outs to the first two stories.
In the first segment, Julie, we think that a mousy college professor is being repeatedly sexually assaulted by one of her students, only to find out that Julie psychically manipulated him into it. Uh...joke's on him and us, I guess? Then she kills him. She's done this to a lot of young men, and I would just like to give a shout out to her scrapbook of murder memories, which is one of my all-time favorite tropes.
Next up is Millicent and Therese, wherein Millicent is an uptight prude who enjoys a little Ruth Bader Ginsburg cosplay from time to time...
...and her sister Therese really GETS AROUND if you know what I mean. Not only does she GET AROUND, she smokes, breaks children's dollies, and reads books about satanism, witchcraft, pornography and the like. Millicent finally takes things in her own hands and uses knowledge she found in Therese's vast occult library to kill her. In a (not at all) shocking twist, it's a case of "dual personality" and Therese Millicent somehow killed herself. I know the Zuni doll gets all the attention, but I would like to give a shout out to the voodoo doll she used to kill herself, because look at it.
Then, of course, we get to the goods in Trilogy in Terror, by which I mean Amelia. Listen, I'll just say it: I think it's the greatest killer doll "movie" there is. I love and love to hate others, your Chuckies and your Annabelles and the such, but the Zuni Fetish Doll is IT, baby.
I love the bit of backstory we get on why Amelia is living alone, as we hear the drama with her mama on a phone call. She also explains the lore "ugly" doll she bought for her boyfriend, how the Zuni warrior spirit is kept from animating the doll by the power of the gold chain wrapped around it. Then the chain falls off amd the doll goes completely, wonderfully HAM. It's nuts. I could watch (and listen to) that doll making rabblerabblerabble noises and running around all day. The swish swish swish of the knife as he's madly slashing at Amelia's ankles makes me glad I was born to witness it! It's so so so good.Then after she toasts the doll in the oven, the spirit transfers to Amelia. The science on that part is solid, but I'm not so sure about how or why her teeth would change.
But what an image to end the film on! It's just the best. It's so epic and iconic that you almost forget there are two other stories in Trilogy of Terror, even though the title tells you there will be three. I wonder how blown away people were when they settled down in front of their televisions on that Tuesday night almost 50 years ago (!!!) for a li'l movie and they got Karen Black fighting with that doll. I guess they must have been pretty damn blown away, because it's been a genre clissic ever since. Perfection!