Hey, it’s Friday the 13th! Which makes me think about frightening things. Well, not really, as I’m not scared of a day/number combination. I have a lot of weird fears, but this ain’t one of them. But it does make me think of horror movies. Or maybe it just gives me a reason to post my favorite scene from a scary movie.
Trilogy of Terror
I grew up on horror. I was in maybe first grade when my Mom got me hooked on Dark Shadows and Vincent Price movies. Other kids gathered around the tv with their family on Sunday evenings to watch Wonderful World of Disney. We stayed up late together on Friday nights to watch Chiller Theater. I think watching so much horror from such an early age sort of desensitized me. As I got older I realized that, while I enjoyed scary movies as much as always, I just didn’t get that frightened. I didn’t jump when everyone else did or scream when everyone else did. What I mean is, the movies just didn’t scare me while I was in the theater. It wasn’t until I got home and was by myself in the dark that I turned into a pussy. But I bet a lot of you are the same way. I’m just admitting it.
So, I’ve seen a lot of horror movies in my time. Hundreds. Movies you have seen a thousand times. Movies you never heard of. Big budget crapfests. Indie crapfests. Foreign crapfests. Yea, most horror movies end up being crapfests. Just the way it is. The really great ones are far and few between. And lately, even the mediocre ones aren’t that many. The art of making a good horror movie seems to be lost (that’s another rant for another day). But, gore, blood, murder, ghosts, vampires, mindfucks, slashers, freaks, voodoo….you name it, I’ve seen it. And out of all of those movies, all of the genres of horror, all of the screams within, the one movie that left such an impression on me that I still freak out when I look at a picture from it was a made for tv movie.
Trilogy of Terror. Written by Richard Matheson. 1975. Three different horror stories, all starring Karen Black. I can’t remember what the other two were about. I just remember the one. The tribal doll. That creepy, evil little doll with the knife and the leer.
For those that never saw this, short premise: Black buys a Zuni fetish doll for her boyfriend. Not for nothing, but if a date ever brought me something that looked like this, I’d think twice about where things were headed. But anyhow, she brings it home and gets ready for her date. She also has a fight with her overbearing mother on the phone. Setting the stage, there.
Somehow,the doll’s necklace falls off and it’s revealed that’s a big mistake. No necklace = live doll.
Let me tell you. What happens in the next ten minutes or so after Black realizes the doll is alive still gives me the chills, just thinking about. When she hears the pitter patter of little feet in the kitchen, you know. You want to say to her, get the hell out of the apartment, woman, that doll is gonna spear you! But the doll says, fuck this spear, I need me a knife. He finds a butcher knife. As he torments Black, he repeatedly stabs the knife into the floor. With that look on his face. Mind you, this thing is only like a foot tall, if that. And he moves real quick. And he has this ugly, snarling face of pure evil.
The light goes out in the living room. You hear a sound. He’s slashing at her. In the dark! He backs her into a closet and she traps him in a suitcase. And then you see the knife cutting a circle in the suitcase and the doll is out and back in action. Finally, Black traps the bastard in the oven, which has been on this whole time. He goes up in flames and stupid, stupid Karen Black, that dumb son of a bitch, she opens the oven door. Why? Did she want to stick a toothpick in him to see if he was done yet?
Well, no amount of my screaming at the tv for her not to do that would help. She opened the gates of hell when she opened the oven and the Zuni Spirit of Random Murder flew out of the oven and into Karen Black’s soul. I thought that was the end. That would have been cool. I could have gone to bed satisfied with that and not had too many bad dream moments because of it.
But, no. You hear a phone call. She’s calling her mom.
Yea mom, come on over. Sorry I think you’re a controlling whack job, mom. Come on over and we’ll do the hug thing, ok? Ok.
And then the camera moves to her. She’s crouched on the living room floor. She’s got….teeth. Fangs. She’s got a knife. And she’s repeatedly stabbing it into the floor.
Mom’s in for a big surprise when she gets there.
Hey, you can buy one of these dolls. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna put one of those hideous things in my house. Hell, I still can’t say Candyman five times into a mirror.
There are a lot of movie scenes that were, in retrospect, a lot scarier than that. There were some that played with my head, some that made me nearly pee my pants and some that gave me chills. The ending to The Thing. That scene in Salem’s Lot with the kid in the window. So many, I should probably make a list. But this is the one that stayed with me, that still shows up in my dreams once in a while.