The original Trilogy of Terror was a TV movie made in 1975 based on stories written by Richard Matheson with each installment starring Karen Black in the lead. It was a rather unbalanced, mediocre horror flick, with the first 2 stories being a bit weak and the final story being absolutely superb (as such, it’s that one story people remember the movie for). Well, it took over 20 years, but in 1996 they managed to produce a long-awaited sequel. Trilogy of Terror II once again features stories written by or inspired by Richard Matheson, however, Karen Black is nowhere to be found. Instead, some lady named Lysette Anthony stars in all three tales.
The first story, “the Graveyard Rats”, features a woman named Laura (Anthony) who conspires with her lover to kill her elderly husband. After disposing of the rich old skeletor, Laura and her lover discover that they need to exhume him. However, after digging his body up, Laura stumbles upon a tunnel beneath the graveyard, crawling with gigantic man-eating rats.
The first story is my least favorite of the bunch. It brings back too many bad memories of “Graveyard Shift” and “Nightmares”. It’s all rather bland, with the giant rats looking especially fake and ridiculous. On the bright side, the pay-off at the story’s conclusion is pretty satisfactory.
The middle tale, “Bobby”, stars a mother (Anthony) distraught over the accidental death of her beloved son, Bobby. The mother uses black magic to bring her son back. However, the reunion doesn’t remain pleasant for very long, as there’s something wrong with Bobby: he’s trying to kill his mom. Bobby goes berserk and begins hunting his terrified mother all over the house, and to make matters worse, Bobby doesn’t appear to be very human anymore.
A good story with a great ending, the only real downside is the acting on the part of Blake Heron, the kid who plays Bobby. His one-liners and attempts at eerie dialogue come off more in the direction of annoying than scary. You can pretty much guess the “twist” ending from the start, but that doesn’t stop it from working. The only thing about the twist I didn’t like was the make-up job used on Bobby’s “real self”, as it looked more silly than scary.
The final story, “He Who Kills”, is a direct sequel to the third story from the last movie, “Amelia”. Picking up almost right where it left off, police are investigating the murders at Amelia’s apartment when they come across the charred remains of the Zuni Fetish Doll roasting in the oven. The police are stumped, so they take the doll to a doctor (Anthony) at the local museum to investigate. The Doc turns her back for a few minutes and when she returns the Zuni doll, as well as a scalpel, are missing. They turn up rather quickly, as the Zuni doll goes on another hunt, first eliminating the museum security guards and then setting its sights on the Doctor.
A good continuation of the best story from the original film, I only have a few real complaints with “He Who Kills”. Firstly, they don’t even try to recreate Amelia’s apartment from the first film. In fact, it’s more along the lines of a mansion. This kinda disjoins the continuity of the stories and always bugs me a little. Secondly, they try to get a little *too* nostalgic for the first film, redoing scenes from “Amelia” which really aren’t necessary. Aside from that, I do enjoy “He Who Kills” and it’s easily my favorite story in the film. The Zuni Fetish Doll is sort of funny and scary at the same time, shrieking and growling and whirling around like an itty bitty Tasmanian Devil. Some people might find it a little too goofy, but I think it adds a bit of personality to the Zuni doll, and he just wouldn’t be the same without all the high-pitched noises.
I prefer Trilogy of Terror II over the original, as I think the horror stories are much more well-rounded. It’s still a bit on the mediocre side, I must confess, but far more balanced than the original.