• Trilogy Of Terror (Kino Lorber Studio Classics) DVD Review



    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
    Released on: October 16th, 2018.
    Director: Dan Curtis
    Cast: Karen Black, Robert Burton, John Karlen, Gregory Harrison
    Year: 1975
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    Trilogy Of Terror – Movie Review:

    This 1975 made for TV movie from director/producer Dan Curtis (he of Dark Shadows and Kolchak fame) has remained a cult favorite since its broadcast decades ago thanks to the involvement of Willam F. Nolan (who wrote Burnt Offerings), Richard Matheson (author of I Am Legend and many others) and the inimitable Karen Black (House Of 1,000 Corpses, It’s Alive III: Island Of The Alive and countless others) – a decent pedigree for a television movie of the week. The film is a straight up anthology film, with Black playing the lead(s) in all three of the completely separate stories.

    Julie:

    The first story deals with a college student named Chad (Robert Burton who was actually married to Karen Black when this movie was made) who, out of the blue one day, wonders what his English professor, Julie (Black), ‘looks like underneath all those clothes.’ He sets out to seduce her and after a few unsuccessful attempts he convinces her to go to the drive-in with him to watch a vampire film. He ends up putting some drugs in her root beer and once she’s unconscious, he takes her back to his place where he shoots some rather unseemly photographs of her.

    The next day he tells her to come to his apartment and he then tells her that he’s going to use the photographs to black mail into basically being his love slave. This seems like a great idea until Julie tells him the truth behind their relationship – he didn’t see this one coming at all.

    Millicent And Therese:

    The second story finds Black playing a double role, two twin sisters named Millicent and Therese. Millicent plays everything very safe, she won’t take any chances, she dresses very plainly and she always seems to be cleaning up the mess that her carefree, sexy and rather irresponsible sister Therese is making.

    After their father’s funeral, Millicent invites Therese’s current squeeze, Mr. Arman (John Karlen) over to the family home while Therese is out at a party. She tells Arman to beware of Therese, how she tried to instigate an incestuous relationship with their late father and how she played a very big in their mother’s death at a young age. From there she tells him that her sister is only interested in damning the souls of others as she too is damned, and how he could very well be next.

    Once that warm, lighthearted meeting is over with, Millicent proceeds to get the trusted family doctor in on things by calling him over for a house call. Therese, home at the time, tries to put the moves on the old doc, but he takes off leaving Millicent to deal with Therese. This proves to be the last straw and Millicent figures the only way to deal with her sister is on her own terms, at which point she starts investigating Therese’s collection of occult books and spells.

    Amelia:

    The third and final story in the trilogy is also the most famous of the three and the one featured on the cover art for this and previous home video releases. Amelia (Black) has recently moved out of her mother’s house after finding she could no longer take the verbal and mental abuse that living there entailed. She’s moved on and started dating a man who works as an anthropologist and one day she finds an odd Zuni doll in curio shop which she buys, thinking it’ll be the perfect birthday gift for her man.

    She heads home, not paying too much attention to the warning that states if the chain around the doll’s neck is removed all Hell will break loose, and she starts to get ready for an evening out on the town. Of course, as she’s getting ready, the chain comes off, the doll comes to life, and the warning proves to be true as Amelia finds herself terrorized by a tiny Zuni warrior with a spear and teeth like a piranha.

    Trilogy Of Terror works fairly well thanks to some solid direction, good cinematography and a great bunch of performances from Karen Black. Amelia is obviously the highlight as it’s just so nuts that you can’t help but love it, however the other two shorts are quite good as well with a few nice twists thrown in and some fun, creepy stories to tell. While there’s nothing in here that would earn the film anything stronger than a PG rating should it be released today, for a 1975 made for TV movie it does deal with some rather unexpected themes and was probably fairly strong stuff when it first appeared on ABC’s airwaves. It’s aged well and if it isn’t as groundbreaking now as it might have been then, it’s still good entertainment with a macabre flavor and some memorable moments.

    Trilogy Of Terror – DVD Review:

    The packaging and press materials for this release tout a ‘brand new 4K restoration’ but as a DVD was sent for review rather than a Blu-ray it’s kind of tough to really comment too much on that. Still, this is an improvement over the past DVD, the colors look very similar but there does look to be a bit more noticeable detail here, even in standard definition.

    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track sounds fine for the most part even if it isn’t the most exciting mix ever heard. For an older made for TV movie, however, there’s little to complain about. Dialogue is fine, you won’t have to strain your ears to understand what’s going on and the track is clean and clear. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Kino has provided a few new extra features for this release, starting with an audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith. It’s an interesting and entertaining talk on the film that manages to cover a lot of ground. We learn about the source material and some of the trickiness involved in adapting it, how the film came to be a made for TV effort, Curtis’ other projects on the small screen, Matheson’s work on the picture and the contributions of the cast and crew with, understandably, a fair bit of emphasis on Karen Black. We also get info on the locations, the score, the effects and quite a bit more.

    Also exclusive to this release is an interview with composer Bob Cobert that clocks in at just short of nine-minutes in length. Here Cobert speaks about how he came to compose for movies, his thoughts on working with Dan Curtis and his feelings on the film overall.

    Kino has also carried over the extras from the old Dark Sky Films DVD release, starting with a full length commentary track with co-writer William F. Nolan (Nolan is only present for the first two stories, Black goes solo on the third) and the star of the movie, Karen Black. This is a pretty interesting discussion thanks primarily to Nolan’s recollections of the project and his memories of working not only with Black but with Curtis as well. Black talks about the various make up jobs she had to deal with for the different characters that she plays and she also tells how she got her husband at the time a part on the movie. It’s also fun to hear Black and Nolan disagree on a few aspects of the production, which happens a few times during their talk. They’re always friendly about it and seem to be getting along really well but issues do come up where Karen decides to correct him and vice-versa. It adds some humor to the track, even if it probably isn’t intentional.

    Up next is a short ten-minute featurette directed by David Gregory entitled Richard Matheson: Horror Scribe in which the legend of horror fiction talks about his life and his career. Sadly he says that no one comes to him to have him write original projects anymore but he counters that by saying he doesn’t care so much as he doesn’t need the money. Matheson is an interesting guy and it’s enjoyable to hear him talk about his working relationship with Dan Curtis and how and why he opted to let Nolan write the first two teleplays based on his stories but chose to do the third one himself. He also makes the distinction between what he considers to be ‘horror’ writing versus ‘terror’ writing, claiming to be the later.

    A second seventeen-minute featurette is also found here entitled Three Colors Black and it’s basically a sit-down interview with Karen Black who talks about how she got into acting and how she doesn’t consider any of the movies that she’s work on to be horror movies. Black is pretty charismatic here and she comes across as a genuinely likeable woman. This piece give her a chance to talk about her work here and on other projects as well and it’s entertaining as well as honestly interesting.

    Trilogy Of Terror – The Final Word:

    Trilogy Of Terror makes for a fun diversion and while it’s not the classic so many seem to think it is, the movie is definitely entertaining and it does allow Karen Black to really strut her stuff. Kino’s release looks and sounds quite good and not only carries over all of the extras from the older DVD release but throws in some new ones as well.