Dan Curtis revealed why the most memorable story in ''Trilogy of Terror'' was also the most difficult

Apparently, that little puppet terror was a terror to film.

If you can recall any memorable scene from the original Trilogy of Terror, chances are that the evil Zuni doll is involved in it. Short, freaky, and terrifying, that little guy will stick in your memory long after the film has concluded.

In the book Produced and Directed by Dan Curtis, compiled and edited by Jim Pierson, Dan Curtis, the film's director, revealed the process of creating and filming the scenes involving the Zuni doll. Quoted in the book's introduction by Mark Dawidziak, Curtis confessed, "I did it all with smoke and mirrors." He explained, "The Zuni doll was a little hand puppet. But it worked. The thing still holds up." 

Still, the crew had trouble when it came to telling the third and final story of the film. Curtis said, "When it came time to shoot the Zuni doll story, I was scared out of my wits because I didn't know what we were going to do. How was I going to make this thing work? All we had was a hand puppet and a little model with hands and legs that could move."

The original plan was to have the set of the apartment placed on risers while a puppeteer moved the Zuni doll on a rod. However, this was easier said than done. Curtis said, "Well, forget it. It absolutely didn't work. It was the most awful thing you've ever seen." Still, the crew was determined to make the scene work somehow. Curtis said, "I got the idea of chasing Karen Black with a hand-held camera about two inches off the ground. So that was very effective." 

Still, Curtis was upset that he didn't have much footage of the Zuni doll at all. Suddenly, lightning struck. Curtis said, "I got one last thought, which saved the picture. I got hold of the puppeteer, and we hung a piece of black velvet. And I just shot a ton of close-ups on the doll: opening its mouth, thrashing around, exiting frame. I sent it to the lab and had it skip-framed, and before you know it, it was zipping around. I edited those into the scene, and it was very effective. It saved me."

So, the third and final story was saved, and the Zuni doll was able to still properly terrify us on screen.

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14 Comments

jojo39328 8 months ago
Is VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA ever coming back?
Avie 8 months ago
Of all the people in show business I've met -- and it's in the hundreds, if not thousands -- Dan Curtis was one of the two most arrogant.
Yort Avie 8 months ago
Who was the other one?
bre003 8 months ago
I first saw this when we had 4:00 movies. 4:00 in the afternoon and my whole family still remembers that Zuni doll.
George58 8 months ago
I don't quite understand why Svengoolie is showing "Trilogy Of Terror", when it was just on a few weeks ago?? Why not show Trilogy Of Terror 2?
John George58 8 months ago
I posted the same question but I think these guys have MeTv on autopilot.
The station could be so much better without the dumbkopf producers.
jonrb86 8 months ago
I was in Dan Curtis's office waiting for a friend who was in a closed door meeting with him. And incased in the middle of the room was the Zuni doll that I stared at the entire time I was waiting. The thing is truly creepy.
TheRealGreenLantern 8 months ago
The scene of the Zuni-possessed Karen Black at the end really sent literal chills down my spine! It was years before I could watch it again! Well done Mr Curtis!
nyrob 8 months ago
Wow, Trilogy Of Terror -- I still remember how we all talked about it at school the next day, it scared so many of us! And it holds it pretty well today, too. Thank you, Karen Black and Dan Curtis!
Art1957 nyrob 8 months ago
Yep, It was like that at school for me as well, EVERYONE who watched it said it was crazy scary!
Yort 8 months ago
I had such a huge crush on Karen Black as an adolescent, still do to this day. She was the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen! Anyway, I digress; I just saw Trilogy again last week and I have to say I prefer the first story "Julie". Karen Black in her naughty teacher getup....Yum!
Art1957 Yort 8 months ago
I bet that story "Julie" fueled many school boys fantasies, I know it did for me, Va va voom!
CouchPotato19 Art1957 8 months ago
As a female, I fantasized about the Zuni Fetish Doll. Hahahaha! Kidding.
LoveMETV22 8 months ago
" we hung a piece of black velvet. And I just shot a ton of close-ups on the doll:"
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Brilliant idea. If you look at some of the footage you can see a black background. Movie Magic.
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