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Film / Trilogy of Terror

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Trilogy of Terror is an American made for TV horror anthology film which originally aired on ABC in 1975. Directed by Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis, it consists of three segments, all of which are based on short stories by Richard Matheson. Karen Black appears in all three segments, playing a different lead role in each.

  1. "Julie" – A university English professor is blackmailed into a relationship with a student. Adapted from "The Likeness of Julie".
  2. "Millicent and Therese" – Two sisters hate each other with a passion. The older sister decides to deal with the younger one once and for all. Adapted from "Needle in the Heart".
  3. "Amelia" – A woman with an overbearing mother accidentally releases a murderous spirit within a Zuni Fetish doll free and must fight for her life. The film's best-remembered and most popular segment. Adapted from "Prey (1969)".

A sequel, also directed by Dan Curtis and starring Lysette Anthony in all three segments, aired on USA Network in 1996.

Overall tropes:

  • Feminist Fantasy: Of the horror variety. The entire trilogy is very woman-centric.
  • Pilot Movie: The film was intended as the pilot for a new horror anthology tv show, but it failed.
  • The X of Y


  • Antagonist Title: Julie is revealed at the end to have been behind Chad's lust for her, killing him for fun just like she's done to all the other boys she's seduced.
  • Asshole Victim: To say Chad had it coming would be an understatement.
  • Big Bad: Julie Eldridge, a woman who manipulates a predator into thinking she's the perfect victim before killing them for fun.
  • Blackmail: Chad uses pictures that he took from the unconscious Julie to blackmail her to be with him.
  • Character Title: Julie is the target of Chad's obsessions.
  • Doing In the Wizard: In the original short story, instead of a Serial Killer Julie is explicitly supernatural in nature; likely a succubus or witch. Chad sees her as sexier than she really is, she drives him to suicide over his uncontrollable lust for her, and she destroys the photos he took with pyrokinesis. The film retains only a hint of this: in her monologue at the end, Julie implies that she originated the blackmail scheme and telepathically planted it in Chad's mind.
  • Hate Sink: Chad Morgan is a college student introduced degrading his female co-eds as "dogs.' After meeting his English professor Julie Eldridge, Chad constantly asks her out until she agrees to go on a date with him. During the date, he drugs her to take compromising photographs and blackmail her into a relationship. Right before Julie kills him, Chad flat-out admits that what she wants means nothing to him.
  • Here We Go Again!!: The segment ends with a male student coming to Julie's apartment, asking for help with an assignment while subtly eyeing her.
    Julie: "I think we're going to be friends. (Smiles) Very good friends."
  • Hot for Teacher: Chad gets a weird idea about seeing what's under his teacher Julie's clothes. This develops into an unhealthy obsession about her, eventually turning into sexual abuse.
  • Meaningful Name: Julie's last name is "Eldridge", which very close to "eldritch".
  • No-Tell Motel: After drugging her, Chad drags unconscious Julie into one to have his way with her.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Chad takes Julie on a date to a Drive-In Theater, and when he goes to get them some drinks, he drugs hers.
  • Shout-Out: Chad signs himself and Julie in the motel under the names "Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Harker", who is a character in the novel Dracula.
  • The Sociopath:
    • Chad Morgan, a misogynist who fixates on his English professor, drugging her so he can take compromising photos and blackmail her into a relationship. He flat-out admits that he does not care what she feels about anything, only his own needs.
    • Julie Eldridge, who pretends to be a mild-mannered English teacher and perfect victim for predatory men, only to manipulate them until she gets bored and kills them. She does not do this out of any moral stand against sexual predation, but solely for her own amusement.
  • Twist Ending: Julie reveals that she's been manipulating Chad from the beginning, playing along with his sex-blackmail scheme For the Evulz, then kills him and destroys his incriminating photos. And he is not the first one.
  • Villain Protagonist: Chad, whom we follow exploiting Julie.

"Millicent and Therese"

  • Big Bad: Therese Loramont, Millicent's sister who's actually a split personality who spends the segment tormenting and abusing her.
  • Downer Ending: Millicent stabs a voodoo doll of her sister Therese in order to end her abuse, only to kill herself due to Therese being a split personality.
  • Happier Home Movie: The segment opens with Millicent watching an old home movie from her childhood, which has both of her parents alive.
  • The Hero Dies: Millicent is killed by the voodoo doll intended to kill her evil sister, due to said sister being a split personality.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Inspired by a child's doll that Therese broke, Millicent decides to get rid of her with a Voodoo Doll.
  • Name and Name
  • Parental Incest: According to Millicent, Therese seduced their father when she was 16.
  • Twist Ending: Therese is actually same person as Millicent, who is suffering from Split Personality. And by destroying her "sister", she kills herself.
  • The Vamp: Therese, who attempts to seduce any man near her.


  • Agony of the Feet: The Zuni Fetish doll begins its attack on Amelia by stabbing her feet while she's searching for it.
  • Big Bad: He Who Kills, an evil spirit trapped inside a Zuni fetish doll.
  • Downer Ending: Amelia seemingly burns the evil doll alive, only for its spirit to possess her and keep on killing.
  • Fangs Are Evil: The Zuni Fetish doll has sharp teeth. Amelia sports them after she is possessed by the doll's spirit.
  • The Ghost: Amelia's mother is never shown onscreen; all the interactions between her and her daughter are through a phone.
  • Kill It with Water: Amelia tries to unsuccessfully drown the Zuni Fetish doll by wrapping it in a towel and submerging it in a bathtub.
  • Murder by Cremation: Amelia finally gets rid of the Zuni Fetish doll by locking it in an oven, where it catches on fire.
  • My Beloved Smother: Amelia's mother, who demands all of her attention and doesn't let her live her own life.
  • Nightmare Face: Amelia's possession at the end by He Who Kills is an image that will haunt you.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: These are trapped in inanimate objects by magic, but can interact with the world if the gold chain sealing them in is removed. They have fangs, and are capable of possessing the living.
  • Perverse Puppet: After the medallion around it is removed, the Zuni Fetish doll comes to life and starts attacking Amelia.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The Zuni Fetish doll is small but powerful.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Slasher Smile: Amelia after being possessed by the evil spirit shows a terrifying grin with sharp fangs.
  • Twist Ending: Amelia manages to destroy the Zuni Fetish doll, but is possessed by the spirit residing in it, and the segment ends with her waiting to ambush her mother.