Friday, May 21, 2010

Forgotten Sequels: Trilogy of Terror II

The original Trilogy of Terror is a pretty well-respected horror anthology film from the 1975 starring Karen Black.  Trilogy of Terror II is a fairly-obscure horror anthology film made for television in 1996 starring Lysette Anthony.  The whole 'sequel' aspect of the film is a bit vague, since all of the original film's stories ended badly, not exactly setting up a 'what has happened since' atmosphere.  What is this movie really?  It's a trilogy of horror tales that are unrelated, save for sharing the same actress in all three.  As a bonus, the last story brings back the Zulu Doll from the first film for another round of murder.  One of the tales- the middle one called 'Bobby'- is based on a Richard Matheson short story, which is a nice touch too.  Besides the title and the vaguely-similar formula, is this really a sequel?  No.  Is it good?  Find out in my review of...
The first tale is called 'The Graveyard Rats.'  Holy Bob Geldof, Batman!  The film begins with a jerk of an old man taunting his current-wife by showing her a sex tape of her and another guy.  He taunts her some more by saying that he will cut her out of his will if she cheats again & he'll release the tape if she leaves him.  Naturally, she leaves him and goes right to her man (Geraint Wyn Davies).  You're not bright, are you honey?  He comes up with the idea of killing the man, which makes her nervous.  Look for that to change though.  Their scheme is a bit dramatic, but it works.  They go out to the country to bury him, although they run into the undertaker (not the wrestler) who warns them about the presence of rats near the crypt designated for burial.  They ignore him and do it anyways.  The next day, the woman learns that the company's assets have been liquidated & all of the money is in a series of Swiss bank accounts.  The problem: the codes are hidden.  The duo figure that they must be hidden in the man's watch, so they go to dig him up.  They find the undertaker trying to rob the grave, so they kill him.  When they find the codes, the woman kills Davies.  The body gets dragged away by some rat puppets...er, I mean rats and she fights back.  After a struggle, she flees through the tunnel, but ends up in the wrong grave.  Sucks to be you.
The second tale is named 'Bobby' and is hopefully less depressing than Bobby's World!  Anyhow, this involves a woman (Lysette Anthony in a bad wig) putting up a pentagram and bringing her dead son back to life.  Oddly, she's in her ocean-side house all alone, despite referencing a husband later.  The kid comes back and, at first, takes the whole thing in stride.  He begins to ask questions, however, and decides that he wants to play Hide & Seek.  This turns dark when he throws a block at the mother & starts to talk all evil and such.  It comes across as a bit silly since the kid can't act that well, but I'll give them points for trying.  There is a pretty interesting bit where he pretends to be the husband while on the phone.  He chases her around for a bit, smashes some stuff up and continues to talk all evil.  Eventually, he corners her and she shoots him.  She feels bad about it, but feels even worse when he shoves her down the stairs.  By the way, we're two-for-two on people being shoved down stairs in these tales.  He explains that Billy didn't come back, but sent him instead.  We get a freaky monster mask shot and the tale ends.  Poor Ms. Anthony.
The final tale involves the return of the Zulu Fetish Doll, which makes for some awkward credits involving a story credit for the first film, a character credit and a new writer.  The doll was found at the scene of a double murder and was brought to a lab to be studied.  Oddly, they bring it to a history museum instead of, you know, a police lab.  After the woman scientist (Lysette, of course) scrapes a bunch of the ashes off, she leaves the room to go have pizza with the two guards.  Nice shout-out to Dark Shadows with one of the guards reading a comic book of it, by the way.  When she comes back, the doll is missing and the scientist suspects that it's the same killer from the first scene that took it.  Well, she's partly-right.  The one guard stalks the creature and, because we got a minor bit of pathos set-up, has the longest build up to death.  Eventually, the Doll bites the hand off of an Indian statue, causing it to fire the nocked bow on the display.  That's Final Destination territory, movie!  It kills the other guard off-camera and chases our heroine around.  Despite being an efficient killer, it just stabs her a lot and doesn't kill her.  This goes on for roughly ten minutes before she dunks it in some conveniently-placed acid.  She goes to check on it...for some reason and gets possessed by it...or something.  Either way, she has razor teeth and kills a guy.  The End.
This is much better than I thought it would be, honestly.  Mind you, I thought that it would be a really lame cash-in film that featured tired cliches and no scares.  While there are some cliches, the whole thing works pretty well.  It would have been nice to have some sort of framing device, but I guess that's too much to ask.  I do have to ask why they would have the second tale, given that it is the same story as Sometimes...They Come Back.  Mind you, it's based on a Matheson tale, but the film was much more recent to this one's release.  The first tale is also pretty similar to George A. Romero's tale from Two Evil Eyes, a film made six years earlier.  The final film is a nice bit of fan service to the first film, even if it is a bit silly.  The effects work in the film is decent, although the rat puppets are a bit obvious.  If you're not the biggest horror fan in the world or as jaded as I am, a lot of these decent tales will seem quite impressive.  For long-time horror fans, this is good, but will not replace the original to any of you.  If you can find it somewhere cheap, I'd actually recommend it.  Just don't go too far out of your way.
Up next, Blockbuster Trash brings you another Asylum film.  Well, at least this doesn't star shitty rappers...oh crap!  Stay tuned...

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