Dan Curtis’ “Trilogy of Terror” is a TV movie that grew so famous that it ended up being considered one of the best horror movies of its decade. Released during a time where networks were tackling TV movies with immense zeal, “Trilogy of Terror” has become a horror classic since its airing, even if I’m not a fan. It’s hard to hate, though. There’s Karen Black taking on all of the major female roles in the film, and the Zuni Fetish Doll, a movie monster who has become the quintessential horror killer doll. “Trilogy of Terror II” premiered on the USA Network in 1996 with Dan Curtis returning to direct, and while it’s not a great movie, it’s fine enough.
It has a lot of shades of Amicus with every story and it’s able to come out as an okay companion to the original, even when it’s copying the formula with every beat. Filling in for Karen Black this time around is Lysette Anthony, a gorgeous character who fills every lead role in the trilogy of tales, and while she’s not quite as strong an actress as Black, she’s still a lot of fun in the driver’s seat. Among the tales, there’s the fairly straight forward “Graveyard Rats” where Anthony plays a gold digging wife who plans to murder her disabled rich husband Ansford with her lover, and steal his fortune. Things go awry when she faces a weird obstacle.
“Bobby” is basically the same story from “Dead of Night” with Anthony playing a mom who resurrects her dead son who mysteriously drowned years prior. When he returns she slowly realizes he’s not the same person. Finally “He Who Kills” is a sequel to the original short “Amelia”, where investigators retrieve the Zuni Fetish doll from Black’s character’s burned down apartment. When the necklace goes missing, the Fetish doll begins terrorizing Anthony’s doctor character. The tales are all fairly blunt and straight to the point and those expecting an ironic twist or revelation will be sorely disappointed. Aside from the classic comeuppance theme from the first tale, nothing really shocked me.
It’s an okay movie if you take it as a surface level companion piece, but for folks interested in more complex tales with a bang finale, you might walk away with an indifferent shrug. The stories just end, especially “He Who Kills,” which is bereft of the original tale’s more psychological implications and ends on a variation of the final scene because—well—that’s how Dan Curtis did it in the original. It ups the body count and blood spray a tad, but it’s still pretty much just the Zuni Fetish doll wreaking havoc. “Trilogy of Terror II” could have been so much worse, especially considering I never thought the original was very good, anyway. Yes, I’m a bad horror fan, I know.