Dan Curtis' seminal horror anthology Trilogy of Terror arrives to terrify Blu-ray. Featuring Karen Black leading three stories in four different roles written by Richard Matheson and William F. Nolan, this classic piece of movie-of-the-week television delivers a few good chills and a couple of laughs courtesy of a possessed warrior doll. Kino Lorber Studio Classics brings the film to Blu-ray with beautiful transfer sourced from a fresh 4K restoration, a great audio mix, and a bunch of great bonus features to devour hours of your spare time. Fans will be happy to ditch their old DVDs. Recommended.
"You've drugged me!"
"No dear, I've killed you."
On a college campus, the devious and demented Chad Foster (Robert Burton) turns his attention towards his professor Julie (Karen Black). In a secluded mansion, the Larimore sisters Millicent and Therese (Karen Black) are caught in a vicious battle for control of the family estate as Dr. Ramsey (George Gaynes) attempts to keep the two from destroying each other. Meanwhile, the sheltered Amelia (Karen Black) is getting her first real taste of freedom from her domineering mother living alone. Ahead of a date with her first boyfriend, she's bought a Zuni fetish doll as a gift that has a murderous mind of its own!
Ever since I was a little and watching scary movies on my own every Saturday morning, Trilogy of Terror has been a staple of my horror diet. Not that I ever really found the three stories contained within this anthology actually "scary." They're creepy and unsettling, but I wouldn't go so far as to say they scared me. The best of the lot is the first story, Julie, as it's the one that feels the most developed. You think you're watching a movie about a lecherous and abusive college student and his need to dominate his teacher, but there's one hell of a twist that arrives in true Richard Matheson form.
For Millicent and Therese, the story feels like a leftover plot from The Twilight Zone. It's not altogether scary, but again, it's got a heck of an ending that was probably a shocker for its time, but today is a bit of a cliche. Amelia is probably the most fun of the three stories. The murderous Zuni fetish doll is a riot, and Curtis wisely decided to dial up the action to 11 allowing the absurdity of the tiny figure to become unsettling while giving the audiences a few good frights and a couple giggles. Again, true to form, Matheson, pulled out all the stops for an unsettling and memorable ending that leaves you wishing for just a little more because it's so damn creepy you want to see what happens next.
Looking at Trilogy of Terror again so far removed from my childhood, I can see why I thought it was creepy and upsetting when I was little. Today, the film has a fun kitsch value while still being entertaining and a bit unnerving. I wouldn't put Terror high on a nostalgia pedestal as I would with several of my favorite horror movies, but this one has some nice memories tied to it. Trilogy of Terror is a great movie to sit down to on a cold fall evening when you want something creepy to watch but nothing that'll keep you up all night.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Trilogy of Terror attacks Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics in a single disc release. The film is pressed onto a Region A BD-25 disc and is housed in a standard sturdy Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. Also included is a booklet containing stills from the film and an essay by Simon Abrams. The disc loads directly to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options.
Sporting a brand new 4K restoration, Trilogy of Terror scares up a beautiful 1.33:1 1080p image. It had been a long time since I last saw this film - possibly 10 years or more - on that old muddy DVD. Before that most of my memories were from my parent's tiny 13-inch set in their bedroom they bought in the late 1970s - so Trilogy wasn't one that ever looked "amazing." That said, this transfer is damned impressive. The film boasts better than average visual stylings for a 70s TV movie and the production design work comes through with great clarity. Details are strong and robust giving full view of fine facial features and the period clothing. That Zuni fetish doll is particularly well detailed making it even more fun when he comes to "life." Film grain is apparent but not bathed in it giving the image a nice film-like quality. Colors are of the 70s gold variety with very warm yellows but reds and blues have plenty of pop to them. Black levels are on point with some nice and deep inky blacks without any serious crush issues to report. All around this is a very nice looking image that offers up big improvements over previous home video releases.
Trilogy of Terror also is treated to a nice English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix that's in keeping with the film's creepy nature. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout. As most of the creepy vibes and key plot points are delivered by Karen Black, it's great to be able to hear the vocal range she gave each character. Sound effects work to give the movie some nice mood but they're not the most prominent aspect most of the mix is concerned with clear dialogue and the creepy-good score by Bob Cobert. Busy scenes during the opening act with students roaming around campus offer up some good imaging. The rest of the shorts are mostly single locations without a lot of activity so any sense of movement or atmosphere comes from the spacing of the characters and objects they interact with. That said that Zuni fetish doll's creepy sounds come through with clear and loud to give you the full effect! Free of any age-related issues, this is a clean audio track that works perfectly for the film.
I really appreciate it when KLSC goes full out with their special edition releases. Trilogy of Terror is given a great mix of new and archival bonus features for fans to pick through that are generally worth watching. The two audio commentaries are great, in particular, the archive one featuring Karen Black and writer William F. Nolan. The other featurettes offer a nice insight into the film and the key cast and crew without being mundane EPK recycled junk.
Trilogy of Terror is a classic piece of horror filmmaking as much as it is an important piece of event television. A huge hit when it first aired, the film has grown a devout legion of fans. With Karen Black delivering an impressive range of performances within three creepy and unsettling stories by Richard Matheson and William F. Nolan, this little movie offers big entertainment value. It may not be the scariest thing out there, but it's a heck of a fun ride. Kino Lorber Studio Classics delivers a quality Blu-ray release with a newly restored transfer, a dynamic audio mix, and a bunch of worthwhile bonus features to keep fans happy. If you love Trilogy of Terror or are just looking for something creepy and entertaining for this Halloween season, this one is Recommended.