The scariest 25 minutes on US television

Mental Floss:

In essentially a one-woman play, Karen Black portrays a character hoping to impress her anthropologist boyfriend by gifting him with an African “Zuni fetish doll,” a fearsome-looking warrior cast in wood and grasping a spear. Alone in her apartment, Black finds that the doll is more spirited than your typical toy. As he hacks and slashes at her feet and hides behind furniture, it’s not quite clear whether Black will conquer her tiny terror, go mad, or both.

I saw this as a kid and, to this day, the thought of that little doll still creeps me out. Literally, the scariest thing I’ve ever seen on TV.



  • bdkennedy

    I didn’t get to see this until I was 16 because my mother forbid it after she watched it when it first aired.

  • Mo

    I seem to remember it being first broadcast opposite another show that I’d decided I wouldn’t want to miss.

    I missed a lot of interesting tv in those days.

  • brucej

    Richard Matheson was a master of suspense writing..

    • Gordon Meyer

      “I am Legend” is cited by many of today’s writers as being among the best horror stories ever published.

      • brucej

        He was GOH at a Desert Con (put on by the SF club at the University of Arizona) many many years ago (IIRC it was ’77 or ’78) and they ran ‘Duel’ in the theatre. He said it scared him a little! He’d never actually seen the whole thing at once.

        BTW Duel, in a theatre with no commercial interruptions is a vastly more intense movie than it ever appeared on TV.

        • James Hughes

          Great movie. Dennis Weaver played the part perfectly. So tense. Whenever I see a truck coming up fast behind me I think of Duel.

  • Dana Pellerin

    It totally scared the crap out of me as a kid too. I have a copy and it’s still freaky as heck. Awesome short.