This was the belated, made-for-cable follow-up to producer-director Curtis's famed (and rather overrated) 1974 TV chiller TRILOGY OF TERROR. Lysette Anthony replaces Karen Black as lead in three unedifying horror tales. In "The Graveyard Rats," aged, venal tycoon Roger Ansford (Matt Clark) is murdered in a scheme co-engineered by his principal heir, floozy...read more
This was the belated, made-for-cable follow-up to producer-director Curtis's famed (and rather overrated) 1974 TV chiller TRILOGY OF TERROR. Lysette Anthony replaces Karen Black as lead in three unedifying horror tales.
In "The Graveyard Rats," aged, venal tycoon Roger Ansford (Matt Clark) is murdered in a scheme co-engineered by his principal heir, floozy wife Laura (Anthony) with her lover Ben (Geraint Wyn Davies). But the reading of the will reveals that the Ansford estate is bankrupt; the old man hid his
millions in secret numbered accounts. Ben and Laura deduce that the only microfilm record must be in Ansford's cherished pocket watch, with which he was buried. Under cover of night Ben digs down to the corpse and finds the watch, whereupon Laura shoots her partner in crime dead. Earlier, she had
been warned not to inter her husband in a part of the cemetery swarming with giant carnivorous rats, and now Laura suddenly sees his body--with the watch--vanish down a warren of tunnels. She crawls in after it, heedless of the dog-sized rodents chewing at her heels, until she finds herself
trapped underground and out of ammunition, as the voracious rats close in...
In "Bobby" a bereaved young mother (Anthony) performs an occult ritual to resurrect her drowned son. Bobby (Blake Heron) does indeed appear, shivering and frightened, on the doorstep. But after their initial, tearful reunion, the boy's manner grows darker and threatening. Soon Bobby starts a
sadistic game of hide-and-seek, clearly trying to harm his mother. The terrified woman finally shoots Bobby out a top-floor window, only to see him reappear moments later, closing in for the kill. It seems the real Bobby, bearing a grudge, refused to come back to life. Instead he sent a murderous
demon in disguise.
In "He Who Kills," police inspect a grisly tableau: a woman and her mother cut to ribbons, and a charred wooden doll in the stove. The fanged totem is ID'ed as He-Who-Kills, a relic of Africa's long-extinct Zuni tribe, supposedly containing a fearsome warrior soul. Cops leave the thing at a local
museum for analysis by Dr. Simpson (Anthony), who finds that its burns are only superficial. Regenerated, He-Who-Kills comes to life again, easily slaying a pair of night watchmen and pursuing Dr. Simpson around the lab. Wounded and frantic, the scholar finally dunks the doll in acid. But its
spirit escapes to possess her, and a fanged Dr. Simpson is last seen slashing into her boyfriend with an ax.
"He Who Kills" is a direct continuation of "Amelia," third and best chapter of the original made-for-network-TV TRILOGY OF TERROR. Once again, the Zuni fetish-doll segment is the best of the bunch, and even it is not very good, rerunning the original with less claustrophic dread and the campy
addition of a tank labeled "Danger: Sulphuric Acid"--the kind of tank that only seems to exist in dumb horror films. Even Charles Band's B-grade PUPPET MASTER series evolved past this sort of stuff in both plot and special effects--and the stiffly animatronic Graveyard Rats aren't all that
convincing either. All three chapters slouch toward the monotonously cruel spectacle of pretty-but-generic Lysette Anthony being chased, tormented, and bloodied, to no particularly entertaining purpose, although youthful Blake Heron does an impressive turnabout in "Bobby" (and no, we never do find
out why he hates Mommy). While Curtis was known for a time as the prime-time king of horror thanks to his "Dark Shadows" soap (subject of one in-joke here) and scattered feature projects, his feverishly-tilted camera angles and repeated shock cuts seem never more than the stalest of scare tactics,
like someone going "Boo!" louder and louder. It's no surprise that the middle story takes place in its entirety "on a dark and stormy night." (Violence, sexual situations, adult situations.)