Color, 1975, 72 mins.

Directed by Dan Curtis

Starring Karen Black, Robert Burton, John Karlen, George Gaynes, Jim Storm, Gregory Harrison / Music by Bob Cobert / Written by Richard Matheson and William F. Nolan

Format: DVD - Anchor Bay (MSRP $24.95)

Yikes! Here it is, folks -- the scariest movie ever made for TV. Well, more accurately, the scariest twenty minutes ever made for TV. While Dan Curtis, the man behind Dark Shadows and The Night Stalker, and legendary fantasy writer Richard Matheson deserve the lion's share of the credit for this seat-jumping little gem, Karen Black also earns kudos for delivering convincing performances in the first two stories and a flat out tour de force in the last one. Not until Drew Barrymore in Scream did anyone ever again exhibit such raw, uninhibited terror onscreen.

The first story, "Julie," features Black as a college professor whose affair with a young student winds up taking a nasty and supernatural turn. Featuring an early appearance by Gregory Harrison, it's little more than a slightly more perverse episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents but passes the time well enough. The second, "Therese and Millicent," offers a mild spin on Robert Bloch's "Lucy Came to Stay" from the British horror anthology Asylum. Black portrays the two title characters, feuding sisters whose lust for a man leads to violent consequences. After this, however, the film really pulls out all the stops for "Amelia," based on Matheson's short story "Prey." Amelia, a single woman living alone in an apartment, finds her love life stymied by the interference of her mother. Our heroine comes into possession of a Zuni fetish doll, a creepy African warrior figure wielding a spear and wearing an amulet. When Amelia removes the amulet, the doll disappears... and begins hunting her inside the apartment. What follows is definitely not for the weak of heart. Imitated countless times (most amusingly in Lamberto Bava's Demons 2) and even remade by Curtis himself for the inferior cable TV film, Trilogy of Terror II, this remains the first and best of its kind.

Trilogy of Terror made brief appearances on video countless times through MPI, but Anchor Bay's DVD looks substantially better than any other version. While this is still a '70s television movie, the color and detail look consistently sharp and stable, with some lustrous, rich hues of gold and brown often overtaking the visual schemes. For most viewers this movie was just designed for DVD; all you have to do is skip forward to the third segment and not worry about fast-forwarding the tape. The nerve-jangling score by Bob Cobert (Dark Shadows) sounds fine, though much of the dialogue has a pinched TV sound that cannot be avoided. No extras aside from a printed interview with Black (too bad the original TV promo spots aren't around!), but fans should be more than pleased with this presentation.

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