Monday, October 24, 2011

Movies That Made Me a Monster Kid #4: Trilogy of Terror

Let me first confess that Dan Curtis is my hero.  Dark Shadows made a huge impact on my monster kid life (more on that another time), but his TV movies were also a great influence on the kinds of movies and programming that I would grow to love, as well as on the kinds of stories I would like to write.
Welcome to My Nightmare!

Trilogy of Terror, as a whole, is burned into memory, but it was one particular segment in the movie that was particularly seared into my monster kid psyche -- "Amelia."

Each of the three stories starred the incredible Karen Black.  Black was a mainstay in my childhood.  One of the few actors for who I recognized being there throughout my life.  I was always impressed with her -- mosty because of this very movie, in which she plays the eponymous character in each of the three segments.  In "Julia," Black plays a homely English teacher who becomes the target of one of her student's advances.  The boy is looking to find new territory to conquer, other than the usual cast of female students.  So, he sets his sites on the "she must be hot under those glasses and librarian clothes" teacher.  It turns out,  she is a lot more wild than anyone expected.  In "Millicent and Therese," Black plays sisters -- one meek and mild, the other crass and wild.  The last, and most widely talked about, is "Amelia" (sometimes referred to as "The Zuni Fetish Doll").  Black plays Amelia, a grown woman who is trying to cut the apron strings to her overbearing mother.  Eve though she's moved out, and has her own career, her mother still has a strong hold on her.  After a day of shopping, Amelia decides to brush off her usual dinner with Mom, for a night of solitude.  As if triggered by her guilt for lying to her mum, a Zumi fetish doll, that she's bought as decor for her new apartment, comes to life and attacks Amelia.  I remember being riveted, watching this segment, not only because the Zumi doll was so freakishly scary, but mostly because the attacks were terrifyingly brutal.
Waiting for Mum to visit

The image of the Zumi fetish doll would soon become iconic for 70s TV horror movies.  But the image that slayed me was that of Karen Black, crouched down on the apartment floor, stabbing a large butcher knife into the floor, the insane look of the Zumi doll cast across her face

True story -- this insane pose was mimicked, one dark and scary night, by my sister, who bore more than a resemblance to the young Karen Black.  Ruined me for life!!

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