Television horror has its peaks and dug their own graves, but in those peaks there’s a few stellar creations, and still among favorites of fans, namely Dan Curtis’ Trilogy of Terror, for obvious reasons it earned high ratings when debuted on March 4, 1975 and lead to VHS and DVD release countless times. For those unaware of this production, consider this a look into horror genre’s history, and the rest is a nice trip down memory lane. First, Curtis often overlooked in many horror circles, namely due to is scope reference in the small screen, sometimes theatrical releases were limited, among them an obscured haunted house flick Burnt Offerings ; which happened to include the star of this production Karen Black. The movie is carefully edited, as it needed to be for the proper commercial breaks, and therefore character driven storylines set against an anthology movie. Dan, of course, earned the freedom to make this horror production, based on his past successful history with Dark Shadows and a series of produced television movies The Norliss Tapes , working on low-budgets and tight filming constrictions, though was before the disastrous Supertrain (1979) fiasco. Then joining Dan, was his collaborator author and screenwriter Richard Matheson (The Night Stalker , who worked on a total of seven films with him and knew what he wanted with a series of bizarre and supernatural creepy stories. One should note that screenwriter William F. Nolan did the teleplay for the segments entitled Julie and Millicent and Therese. The topic of anthologies in the horror genre, both pros and cons, most recalled Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors , The House That Dripped Blood , Creepshow  and Tales of Halloween  just to name a few, there plenty to choose from over the past decade.
The first tale “Julie” is perhaps a slightly weak story especially viewed by today’s audience, as it uses a highly unorthodox, which still in effect today known as revenge porn, though many likely call it blackmail or witness intimidation, regardless Curtis shows how far thinking he was in 1975. Chad Foster (Robert Burton) is a voyeur who’s focused a college professor Julie (Karen Black), so much that gets a date with her, and through a date rape drug he lures her into a motel room, under the name Jonathan Harker soon begins taking photographs of her as she undresses. Some criticize that she doesn’t really strip, look it’s 1975, on television, what do you expect, bare bottom, not going to happen. Afterwards, he presents photos to her and implies she needs to submit to more provocative acts for him and his friends, in his game psychological warfare and torment. It all seems angled in one direction a shy teacher, caught in web with a predator, before the twist, of Julie, turning with suggestions and thoughts planted in his mind and manipulates his so-called power. The second episode is “Millicent and Therese” here Karen portrays twins, in thoroughly opposite character roles, that have a sexually assertive woman in league with demonic forces while the other remains prim and proper. Screenwriter Nolan references the common cliché that a man who has many sexual conquests is both powerful and a stud while woman who attempts that is considered a slut and has loose values. One of the sisters notes the others on the library of books on Satanism, pornography, and voodoo, as she represses any carnal interests, remaining a decent person in society. You may have noticed, I didn’t mention which sister is what trait, that’s because you’ll need to discover that aspect out on your own, though likely see it coming early on, thanks to some choice camera angles. Lastly, fans of either anthologies or British horror will notice a slight connection (though more of a remix) to Robert Bloch’s “Lucy Came to Stay” in Asylum . Simply Karen rocks the hell of the character performances in this tale! If one is curious of how the television movie became a true cult flick, they need only watch the final story entitled “Amelia” which includes a one-person drama in an apartment adapted from Matheson’s short story “Prey”. Curtis goes all out in this zany story, which involves Amelia buying a fantastic looking Zuni fetish warrior figure wielding a spear, which comes with a warning amulet. Of course, the fans of horror know that once it was removed it unleashes the demonic spirit living in the doll. In fact, Curtis works to build a lot of atmosphere by allowing the audience seeing shadows, and the doll shifting, hiding, knocking into furniture and sometime as POV of the figurine, the technical angles are incredible. The warrior trapped in the demonic doll is brutal jabbing knives under doors, chasing Amelia around in mad terror is as comical as one would think. However, the end sequence is more terrifying as the demonic force transcends its current limitations and presents a lingering look at the camera’s close out shot.
Ideally, one needs to obviously focus their attention primarily on one actress who carries the entire weight of the movie Karen Black, who mostly worked on horror features after this production, in fact over 25 of them. One of the roles likely not to translate to the audience is the story “Julie” because of the subject matter as described above. Curtis, also had his longtime friend and composer, Bob Cobert who had over 1,200 scores for Television episodes and movies as well as features; and brought along his cinematographer Paul Lohmann from his previous TV-movie Scream of the Wolf , both who understood what Dan needed without any excessive issues.
I think what works best and makes this an enduring anthology, is first with Dan Curtis’ involvement, he was on a roll with his television productions, especially a long string of horror tales. Then the looking back to Karen Black who embraced her b-movie status after this film, it’s always nice to see where a future star had their initial start (yes did star in The Pyx ), Nonetheless I believe it’s the varied stories told with twisted endings, psychological themes, and that terrorizing Zuni fetish doll (later spoofed in Charles Band’s Ooga Booga ) which makes it a beloved treasure of horror fans.
TAGLINE: An electrifying experience – you won’t believe your eyes!
IMDb Rating: 6.6/10
Baron’s Rating: 6.5/10
If you want to watch the movie here is the YouTube link: