Retro Review: Trilogy Of Terror (1975)

Retro Review: Trilogy Of Terror (1975)

A fun, campy TV movie oddity.


"Trilogy of Terror" is a made-for-TV anthology horror film that originally aired on ABC in 1975. While TV movies are not typically known for their quality, this particular film is enjoyably silly and even has a few mildly spooky moments. The three stories featured in the film are all based on short stories by acclaimed sci-fi/horror/fantasy writer Richard Matheson, which is a large part of why the film succeeds. Matheson wrote several episodes of "The Twilight Zone" during its original run, and the three stories in "Trilogy of Terror" all bear a strong similarity in tone and structure to that show.

The three stories, "Julie", "Millicent and Therese", and "Amelia", all feature actress Karen Black in the leading role. She is by far the strongest part of the first two segments. In "Julie", she portrays the titular character, a college professor who is being blackmailed by one of her students. Bad news for the student, because the tables quickly turn and it becomes apparent she is not merely a meek academic type. The content of this shot is dicey (there is a heavy implication of date rape), but the last five minutes shine. Black transforms from mousy teacher to vamping femme fatale. For fans of high camp acting, this film should not be missed.

The second short is the weakest by far, due to its obviously telegraphed "Twilight Zone"-esque twist. Still, Black remains the high point in her duel role as antagonistic sisters. Millicent, who looks like a schoolmarm version of the Goblin Queen from "Troll 2", believes her sister Therese is responsible for various misfortunes throughout her life. Or is there even an evil sister at all? (Three guesses what the twist is.) Black gets another opportunity to cut loose as the evil sister Therese, a comically tawdry character that embodies every "bad girl" trope imaginable, and it is truly a sight to behold.

The third short actually has the weakest of Black's performances, but overall remains the strongest of the bunch. It centers on Amelia, a woman who is terrorized by a tiny Zuni fetish doll that she bought for her anthropologist boyfriend. The doll wears a gold chain that prevents the evil spirit trapped within it from escaping, and of course Amelia accidentally lets the chain fall off. Soon the pint-sized figurine is up and running, chasing Black around her apartment whole wielding a paring knife. This short is relatively small-scale, focusing on Amelia and the doll in a singular setting, which keeps things suitably terse and suspenseful. Unfortunately, Black does not get an opportunity to ratchet her performance into over-the-top overdrive, but the freaky little doll more than makes up for that. It skitters around, chattering like the Tasmanian Devil from the Looney Tunes. The ending for this one is also the best of the three, as it is not nearly as predictable as the preceding shorts.

Sadly, there is no wraparound story in "Trilogy of Terror", no through line to connect the stories in any way. This is likely due to the time constraints of the TV movie format, but I do wish there had been some connection to tie all three stories together other than the loose theme of "Karen Black gets repeatedly terrorized". The movie sets out with a modest goal, to string together three vaguely "Twilight Zone"-ish stories into an ABC Movie of the Week. In that regard, it accomplishes its goal. Karen Black is an incredibly fun actress and it is a treat to watch what is often a one-woman show. It may not be a horror masterwork, but it is certainly a decent way to spend 75 minutes.

Rating: 6/10

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11 Things Psychology Majors Hear That Drive Them Crazy

No pun intended.

We've all been there. You're talking to a new acquaintance, or a friend of your parents, or whoever. And then, you get the dreaded question.

"So what are you studying in school?"

Cue the instant regret of picking Psychology as your major, solely for the fact that you are 99.9% likely to receive one of the slightly comical, slightly cliche, slightly annoying phrases listed below. Don't worry though, I've included some responses for you to use next time this comes up in conversation. Because it will.

Quick side note, these are all real-life remarks that I've gotten when I told people I was a psych major.

Here we go.

1. So are you, like, analyzing me right now?

Well, I wasn't. But yeah. Now I am.

2. Ugh so jealous! You picked the easy major.

"Lol" is all I have to say to this one. I'm gonna go write my 15-page paper on cognitive impairment. You have fun with your five college algebra problems, though!

3. So can you tell me what you think is wrong with me? *Shares entire life story*

Don't get me wrong; I love listening and helping people get through hard times. But we can save the story about how one time that one friend said that one slightly rude comment to you for later.

4. Well, s**t, I have to be careful what I say around you.

Relax, pal. I couldn't diagnose and/or institutionalize you even if I wanted to.

5. OMG! I have the perfect first client for you! *Proceeds to vent about ex-boyfriend or girlfriend*

Possible good response: simply nod your head the entire time, while actually secretly thinking about the Ben and Jerry's carton you're going to go home and demolish after this conversation ends.

6. So you must kind of be like, secretly insane or something to be into Psychology.

Option one: try and hide that you're offended. Option two: just go with it, throw a full-blown tantrum, and scare off this individual, thereby ending this painful conversation.

7. Oh. So you want to be a shrink?

First off, please. Stop. Calling. Therapists. Shrinks. Second, that's not a psych major's one and only job option.

8. You know you have to go to grad school if you ever want a job in Psychology.

Not completely true, for the record. But I am fully aware that I may have to spend up to seven more years of my life in school. Thanks for the friendly reminder.

9. So you... want to work with like... psychopaths?

Let's get serious and completely not-sarcastic for a second. First off, I take personal offense to this one. Having a mental illness does not classify you as a psycho, or not normal, or not deserving of being treated just like anyone else on the planet. Please stop using a handful of umbrella terms to label millions of wonderful individuals. It's not cool and not appreciated.

10. So can you, like, read my mind?

It actually might be fun to say yes to this one. Try it out and see what happens. Get back to me.

11. You must be a really emotional person to want to work in Psychology.

Psychology is more than about feeling happy, or sad, or angry. Psychology is about understanding the most complex thing to ever happen to us: our brain. How it works the way it does, why it works the way it does, and how we can better understand and communicate with this incredibly mysterious, incredibly vast organ in our tiny little skull. That's what psychology is.

So keep your head up, psychology majors, and don't let anyone discourage you about choosing, what is in my opinion, the coolest career field out there. The world needs more people like us.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Short Stories On Odyssey: Roses

What's worth more than red roses?


Five years old and a bouquet of roses rested in her hands. The audience-- clapped away her performance, giving her a standing ovation. She's smiling then because everything made sense, her happiness as bright as the roses she held in her hands.

Fifteen now, and a pile of papers rested on her desk. The teachers all smiled when she walked down the aisle and gave them her presentation. She was content then but oh so stressed, but her parents happy she had an A as a grade, not red on her chest.

Eighteen now and a trail of tears followed her to the door. Partying, and doing some wild things, she just didn't know who she was. She's crying now, doesn't know anymore, slamming her fists into walls, pricking her fingers on roses' thorns.

Twenty-one and a bundle of bills were grasped in her hands. All the men-- clapped and roared as she sold her soul, to the pole, for a dance. She's frowning now because everything went wrong, but she has to stay strong, for rich green money, is worth more than red roses.

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