Review of “Trilogy of Terror” (1975)

trailer from YouTube

This is our latest Saturday pizza and bad movie offering, a made-for-TV flick consisting of three independent stories.


Karen Black plays the main character in each of the three segments and plays a total of four separate roles.

In the first segment (“Julie”), Julie Eldridge (Karen Black) is a dowdy literature teacher at a community college. One of her students, the creepy amateur photographer Chad (Robert Burton), wonders what she looks like “under all those clothes.” He pressures her into going to a drive-in movie with him, during which he drugs her. He then takes her to a motel, photographs her in compromising situations, and rapes her. However, he comes to regret his actions, not understanding the person he’s dealing with.

The second segment (“Millicent and Therese”) deals with two sisters dealing with the aftermath of their father’s death. Millicent wears the expected black with a white lace collar. Her brown hair is gathered into a bun, and she wears thick glasses. She complains about how evil her sister Therese is. When Thomas Amman (John Karlen) stops by to speak to Therese, she explains her sister is unavailable because she’s out partying, even though their father is barely cold. Next, she complains to her therapist, Dr. Ramsey (George Gaynes), that Therese trashed her room. Therese is getting intolerable. Dr. Ramsey agrees to stop by and talk to her. When he does, he’s met with a blond woman showing a lot of leg, who invites him in and comes on to him.

This proved to be a see-it-comin’, sad to say.

The last segment (“Amelia”) is all Karen Black as a young woman who’s just moved away from home, much to the resentment of her mother. She brings in a wooden box, opening it to display a doll with a mouth full of teeth and holding a spear—a Zuni hunting fetish doll standing maybe a foot high. According to a scroll in the box, its name is “He Who Kills.” A little gold chain around its waist keeps the spirit of an actual Zuni hunter from inhabiting the doll.

Amelia calls her mother. The viewer only hears Amelia’s side of the conversation. Still, we learn that she is subleasing her apartment for six months until the tenants return, she’s met a man named Arthur Breslau, and she wants to spend the night—the evening—celebrating his birthday rather than the usual Friday with her mom. The doll is a gift for Arthur, an anthropology teacher.

The mother lays on the guilt trip, and a fight soon follows, ending with her mother hanging up on her. In frustration, Amelia slams the doll down on the coffee table. The little gold chain drops, and the fun begins.


This was originally intended for TV and struck me as rather intense for that medium. There is no explicit sex or nudity, but there’s quite a bit of violence, particularly in the last segment when the animated doll is chasing Amelia around her apartment with a knife. In the first segment, a creepy student rapes an unconscious Julie. To be fair, her assailant is not shown touching her.

I read a lot of comments from people who saw this on TV back in the day saying how freaked out they were about the supposed Zuni fetish doll chasing bathrobe-clad Karen Black around her apartment. These responses make sense. Amelia appears helpless and trapped. The doll seemed to have been the bolt on the apartment’s door, so she can’t escape. This probably reflects a deleted scene.

But who cares? A doll chases Amelia around with a knife. She’s bleeding. Is it possible to even kill him? The dolls were actually marketed after the movie. Want one in your house?

All three vignettes had nifty Twilight Zone endings. Not a surprise—Richard Matheson, who wrote many Twilight Zone episodes, wrote all three stories and one of the teleplays.

This is definitely not one for the kiddies. But enjoyable? Eh…

The movie can be watched here:

Title: Trilogy of Terror (1975)

Directed by
Dan Curtis

Writing Credits
William F. Nolan…(teleplay) (segment “Julie”)
Richard Matheson…(story) (segment “Julie”)
William F. Nolan…(teleplay) (segment “Millicent and Therese”)
Richard Matheson…(story) (segment “Millicent and Therese”)
Richard Matheson…(written by) (segment “Amelia”)
Richard Matheson…(short story) (segment “Amelia”)

Cast (in credits order)
Karen Black…Julie / Millicent / Therese / Amelia
Robert Burton…Chad Foster
John Karlen…Thomas Amman (as John Karlin)
George Gaynes…Dr. Chester Ramsey
Jim Storm…Eddie Nells (as James Storm)

Released: 1975
Length: 1 hour, 12 minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

8 thoughts on “Review of “Trilogy of Terror” (1975)

  1. That last story scared the shit out of my Dad, he would talk about that film. My Mom loved it. I was only 5 when it was on.

  2. That flick scared the…daylights…yeah…daylights…out of me when I saw it as a twelve-year-old. Especially “Amelia.” That segment was eerie, and even though even at that age I knew it was fantasy, I still had nightmares about Karen Black and that last call to her mother.

    1. I can understand that. The last image was quite striking. I thought the whole thing was a bit intense for TV.

      I bet you weren’t the only twelve-year-old who had the…daylights scared out of them. 🙂

      1. “Trilogy of Terror” is intense for broadcast TV, especially by the standards of the time. And I am not a betting man, but I think you’d certainly win that wager…..

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