One of the great names in terror fiction and fanciful movies, Richard Matheson wrote the books that became The Incredible Shrinking Man, Somewhere in Time, What Dreams May Come, The Box, Real Steel and three versions of I Am Legend. He also authored the best of the Roger Corman films based on Edgar Allan Poe stories. In the ’70s heyday of TV films, Matheson wrote some classics of preternatural dread, including Steven Spielberg’s debut feature, Duel, and The Night Stalker, that tart cocktail of vampire, cynical journalist and Las Vegas. But the telefilm any aging kid will recall with a shudder is Trilogy of Terror, starring Karen Black and produced and directed by House of Dark Shadows’ Dan Curtis from three Matheson stories. The keeper was the third story, “Amelia,” in which Black brings home a small African totem, a Zuni fetish doll, that comes to demonic life and does everything it can to kill her. An intense battle of tiny monster and resolute human, “Amelia” is perhaps the all-time scariest half-hour of original prime-time television — unless it’s tied with another Matheson teleplay, The Twilight Zone’s 1963 “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet,” with William Shatner’s visions of a gremlin on the airplane wing.
Next Peeping Tom