Karen Black Remembers Trilogy of Terror

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Much like the infamous Zuni doll, Trilogy of Terror has a life of its own. 

Karen Black said, "I went to something where you sign your name. We had lines that went across the room and out the door."

In fact, despite receiving critical acclaim for her performances in Six Easy Pieces and The Great Gatsby, Black noticed that most people remembered her from the science fiction TV movie.

"It’s a real cult phenomena, and I guess I’m proud to be part of it," she said. "I think it’s an interesting study of how it could be that scary. Seems to me that it’s the little things in life that kill you."

Read more of Black's movie memories below!

1. Black didn’t want to do it at first.

“I didn’t think I should do it. My manager came to my house and sat with me until 4 in the morning. He just plunked himself down in the chair. At this point, I was married to Skip Burton. I said, ‘If Skip plays the other part when I’m a teacher and if I get to wear these glasses that make my eyes much bigger, I’ll do it.’”

2. Black had fun playing the twins.

“It was always going to be me playing all of the roles. It was a wonderful challenge. I must say I was very interested in that spinster lady whose mouth was drawn and tightened. I liked playing that hot girl too because I was worried about my thighs in those days too. When you’re young, you have thighs. That was fun sassing around. I didn’t like my hair though. Of course, that was false hair. You could see right through that.”

3. Her favorite character to play was…

“The woman who was being chased by the doll was my favorite part. It was very interesting to play the creation of that much pandemonium and terrible upset and even despair when you’re alone in a room. That was a really wonderful challenge for me.”

4. Black rewrote an important scene.

“Dan Curtis [the director] let me rewrite the conversation with my mother at the beginning because I think the mother’s kind of a suppressive person. That’s why she’s in such trouble really. She was kind of having a nice conversation with her mother, so I rewrote it so you could tell that the mother was taking her to task or making her apologize for things she hadn’t done wrong.”

5. The Zuni doll made her laugh.

“The doll wouldn’t function as a proper scary, little menacing doll. Sometimes they'd just throw it. The whole set would be dying with laughter because the doll’s arm would fly off and then the foot would fly off and the legs would fly off. It just wouldn’t work.”

6. Black got black and blue!

“The character falls over a lot. Well, I fell over so many times shooting it that I was black and blue. I hope you love the falls because there were many of them, and I suffered.”

7. Black changed the end in an important way.

“Those teeth were my idea. I said, ‘Look at these teeth on this little doll. If she’s turning into the doll, a giveaway would be if she had these pointed teeth.’ And I was allowed to do the makeup for my eyes – because I always do my eyes – and put the black under my eyes and the teeth in, and it worked very well.”

8. A big movie star loved it.

“Warren Beatty once called me up after they showed it on television. He was calling everyone who had been part of it to say what a wonderful small drama that was."