The Exorcist pretty much scarred America in 1973, so when ABC affiliates across the country began pushing the made-for-television movie Trilogy of Terror from the primetime slot to an 11:30 airing due to it being “too unsettling,” people were two things – curious and apprehensive.
Trilogy of Terror featured three 30-minute shorts, each starring Oscar nominee Karen Black (Five Easy Pieces).
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The first two surely left people wondering what the big deal was.
They were forgettable and boring, but when the third, Amelia, came onscreen, people surely began to find themselves on the edge of their seats.
In it, Black portrays a character who gifts her anthropologist boyfriend with an African “Zuni fetish doll,” which is a warrior cast in wood and grasping a spear.
It comes alive, slashing at her with its spear, and is generally completely terrifying in every way.
40 years have passed since the short film aired, but few who view Amelia could ever forget that evil little doll.
Writer Richard Matheson was often approached by executives who admitted to peeing their pants when they saw the film as children. He came up with the plot years earlier when he was working as a Twilight Zone writer and pitched it in the form of a script called “Devil Doll.” Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling deemed it “too grim,” however, so he had to wait to see it come to light.
Production of the film was often funny, with crew tossing the doll at her to simulate movement and it often losing a head or arm in the process, but no one who watched the film that night (or any night after) likely laughed even once – by the end of the stark, depressing film it’s clear that Black’s character is not going to survive their encounter.
Child’s Play writer Don Mancini, and producer Tom Holland, have both spoken about the influence Amelia had on their Chucky, so basically, the movie has continued to scar America’s youth in some form or another in the intervening decades.
One person who is especially not thrilled about Amelia’s lasting impact? Star Karen Black, who wishes people would remember her for something else.
“I wish they said, ‘That wonderful movie you did for Robert Altman,’ but they don’t. They say, ‘That little doll.'”
Haha, well, that’s show business!