When I were a wee lad, I saw an ad for Trilogy Of Terror. That doll–it didn’t creep me out. It didn’t scare me. It didn’t terrify, upset, or unnerve me. No, that thing fucking traumatized me. And that was just from the trailer and the picture in the TV Guide. I hadn’t even seen it do anything yet! So profound was that accursed little thing’s effect on me that it actually took me years to finally get around to watching the movie.
It still makes me shudder a bit. But…did you know there was a sequel? I was not aware of this until a couple years ago when the now departed Videoscope featured it on the Fall 2019 cover. I felt watching it was a professional obligation. Anything for y’all, my beloved gentle persons.
Anyway, this time around the actress in all 3 segments is Lysette Anthony who played Angelique in the 1991 Ben Cross remake of Dark Shadows. The original Dark Shadows was created and helmed by Dan Curtis who also had a hand in developing the remake and directed the first Trilogy Of Terror. I like Lysette Anthony and Trilogy Of Terror II, but if I’m honest, she doesn’t carry the same gravitas or presence that future Mama Firefly Karen Black can muster.
“The Graveyard Rats” is the first segment. Like the stories in Trilogy Of Terror, this is based on a short story. Unlike Trilogy Of Terror which was entirely based on fiction by late great Richard Matheson, this story was by Henry Kuttner and adapted by Curtis and William F. Nolan. Nolan had already adapted two Matheson stories for Trilogy Of Terror the first time around (with Matheson adapting one himself).
Here, Anthony is Laura, a scheming young who wife murders both husband and lover to claim a fortune for herself, only to be thwarted by rats that could have come right out of Stephen King’s “Graveyard Shift.”
“Bobby,” the middle segment, is a remake of a Matheson story filmed for Dead Of Night, a 1977 anthology film also by Curtis. Bobby drowns, and his grieving mother Alma (Anthony) uses The Key Of Solomon to bring him back from the dead.
What could go wrong? Well, for one thing, be careful what you wish for. Duh. And second, as stated in Rule #12 of the 13 Rules Of Horror, magic is not your ally. Think of if kinda like The Exorcist meets “The Monkey’s Paw.”
Finally, we revisit everyone’s favorite beloved Zuni Fetish Doll. “He Who Kills” picks up pretty much where “Amelia” left off in the original. Except the end of “Amelia” implied that Amelia had been possessed by the spirit of the doll and was waiting to kill her mother. Here, the cops roll up on the double homicide of Amelia and her mother. Wait, what? I mean, I guess it could make sense, but it feels ret-conned to me.
Anyway, they find the charred remains of the doll and take it over to Dr. Simpson (Anthony’s final character) whom they hope can identify it. She chips away at the remains to find that underneath the charred exterior, the doll seems brand new. Beyond this, the story plays out much the same as “Amelia” did, including the doll cutting its way out of a briefcase. Rather than being stuffed into an oven, this time the doll is dropped into a tank full of acid, y’know, like all labs have sittin’ around.
And that’s Trilogy Of Terror II. Not quite up to the standard of the original, but as made-for-TV stuff goes, it’s still a pretty fun watch.
BODIES- 7 onscreen, 1 off