It was Karen Black with the Candlestick in the Library: My Tribute to Karen Black

We initiated ourselves into the joys of juicing vegetables last week on Wednesday, and I was going to tell you all about it today, but then something happened on Thursday that takes precedence. On Thursday, the landscape of pop culture changed. We lost American actress Karen Black to cancer, and I want to take a minute to write about her in this space.

 

American actress Karen Black (July 1, 1939 - August 8, 2013)

American actress Karen Black (July 1, 1939 – August 8, 2013)

 

Although she earned critical acclaim – including Oscar and Golden Globes recognition, among others – for films such as The Great Gatsby, Nashville and Five Easy Pieces, the made-for-television movie Trilogy of Terror (1975) propelled Karen Black into the stratosphere of B-movie Scream Queen fame.

I’m fuzzy on the details of the first time I saw Trilogy of Terror.

I don’t remember exactly with whom. I don’t remember exactly when, and I don’t even remember where… but I do remember that a). it was with a girlfriend, b). we were in high school, c). we were at someone’s house… maybe mine, and d). an excessive amount of junk food was involved. There were probably Nacho Cheese Doritos, Twinkies, M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Coke. OH! Those chocolate-covered marshmallow cookie things, what are they called?

Got it – PINWHEELS. By Nabisco.

The cheesy tortilla chips were especially appropriate for the occasion.

As indicated by its title, Trilogy of Terror contains three separate stories. Karen Black stars as the protagonist in all three of them. The first two of the three bizarre short films that comprise the Trilogy are psychologically bent. The third, entitled “Amelia,” features a Zuni Fetish Warrior Doll… and that’s about all that needs to be said about that.

As far as I’m concerned, no prop in Horror will ever compare to Trilogy of Terror’s maniacal cackling, growling Zuni Fetish Warrior Doll. The clown in Poltergeist can’t touch it, and Chucky doesn’t even come close. Even the creepy doll in The Conjuring looks like Malibu Barbie next to it.

 

Zuni Fetish Warrior Doll in Trilogy of Terror's "Amelia"

Zuni Fetish Warrior Doll in Trilogy of Terror’s “Amelia”

 

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and if you’re a Horror afficionado, I suggest you get Trilogy of Terror and skip straight ahead to “Amelia,” the third segment. Then go back and watch the first two, “Julie” and “Millicent and Therese,” so you can come away with the full Karen Black Trilogy of Terror experience.

At least two things came about as a result of Trilogy of Terror:

–After Karen Black did Trilogy of Terror, she went on to become something of a B-movie horror cult figure, more or less concentrating her efforts in the genre. A gothicky punk/shock-rock kind of band in New York even named itself “The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black” in her honor.

–Watching Trilogy of Terror spawned my affection for the Horror genre, which runs deep in my pop culture veins to this day.

Yes… for me, it was Trilogy of Terror that started it all. Why will I always run to the theater to watch the latest creepy movies, rather than the romantic comedies? It was Karen Black with the candlestick in the library.

At some point, a copy of Trilogy of Terror on VHS made its way into my movie collection, after which I pestered everyone I knew to watch it with me. (I’d long since lost track of how many times I’d viewed it.) Callaghan was the exception, because by the time he and I got together, I no longer owned a VCR, and neither did he. We moved to France. After I populated my bookshelves there with books from my collection, I carefully positioned my Trilogy of Terror video cassette on the edge of one of the shelves. I really need to replace that with a DVD version one day, I thought to myself as I did it.

I haven’t acquired the DVD yet. But I will.

When Karen Black’s death was announced on Thursday, I turned to Callaghan. We had another Glenn Close bunny-boiling Fatal Attraction situation on our hands. Callaghan still hadn’t seen Trilogy of Terror, so he couldn’t truly appreciate what Karen Black meant to me. I mean, he had no clue about the Zuni Fetish Warrior Doll! How could that be? Appropriate action had to be taken at the first opportunity. The next evening, we finally sat down to watch Trilogy of Terror together.

And, as always, “Amelia” induced laughter, because for all its spooky, cringe-worthy ferocity, that Zuni Fetish Warrior Doll is quite hilarious in some of its scenes. Callaghan loved it, as I knew he would (we have the same taste in just about everything).

When I mentioned that I would love to own a replica of that doll, Callaghan quickly said, “NO!”

Speaking of boiling bunnies, here’s a bit of trivia about Karen Black that endears her to me even more:

 

from: http://www.peta.org/features/Karen-Black.aspx

 

Thank you for everything, Karen Black. You will be missed… but, you know, you’ll never really die. Heheh.

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