It seems that even in bad horror films, the “evil doll” character remains an effective scare tactic for most people. One reason may be that many people have a memory (or a repressed memory) of a creepy doll that they saw as a child. If demonic dolls give you the heebie-jeebies, you may want to watch (or avoid) the following eight horror movies featuring some of the creepiest dolls ever portrayed onscreen.
1. Chucky in Child’s Play film series (1988-2013)
Introduced in the original Child’s Play movie in 1988, Chucky is a sneering red-haired doll that is possessed by the spirit of a deceased serial killer. Many of the films’ plots revolve around Chucky’s attempts to transfer his soul from the doll body into a living person. While several of the later sequels became campier as the series crossed over into the comedy-horror genre, Chucky remains one of the best known and creepiest dolls ever portrayed in a horror film.
2. Fats in Magic (1978)
This critically-acclaimed Richard Attenborough-directed horror film features a stellar cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, and Ed Lauter. In the film, Hopkins portrays a psychologically unstable ventriloquist who acts out as his darkest impulses through a creepy dummy he dubs “Fats.” The film received largely positive reviews when it was originally released and currently has an 83% approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Multiple dolls in Dolls (1987)
As the title suggests, this horror film features not just one, but dozens of insanely creepy dolls. In the film, a group of travelers are forced to take shelter at the home of a seemingly kind elderly couple. However, the gentle elderly couple turns out to actually be a pair of witches who happen to own a large collection of murderous dolls that come to life at night. In what might be the ultimate nightmare for people with a fear of creepy dolls, some of the characters in the film are actually transformed into dolls themselves.
4. Suzie in May (2002)
Like Magic, May features a psychologically disturbed character that imagines conversations with an inanimate doll. In this case, the disturbed character is a lonely veterinarian assistant portrayed by Angela Bettis, while the creepy doll is a crudely made figurine named Suzie that looks a little like a miniature female version of Halloween’s Michael Myers. However, Suzie isn’t the only unpleasant doll to make an appearance in this film. After several failed attempts to establish normal relationships with the people around her, May becomes completely unhinged and begins to assemble another doll, this time from human body parts.
5. Clown doll in Poltergeist (1982)
While this Academy Award-nominated horror film features a number of disturbing elements, one of the most memorable scenes involved a nightmarish clown doll. After waking in the middle of the night and noticing that his clown doll has inexplicably vanished, Robbie (Oliver Robins) does what many children typically do and looks under his bed. Suddenly he is attacked by the clown doll that drags him under the bed and attempts to choke him to death. While the clown doll was not a major character in Poltergeist, it was especially scary due to its shrewd combination of two major horror film clichés: the creepy doll and the evil clown.
6. Multiple dolls in Puppet Master film series (1989-2012)
This long running horror film series features enough creepy dolls that it could have its own list. In the original film, a puppeteer makes the ill-fated decision to bring several puppets to life using ancient Egyptian magic. Of course, instead of bringing something like Kermit the Frog or some other loveable puppet to life, the puppeteer in this movie opted to animate puppets with sinister names like Blade, Pinhead, and Shredder Khan. Needless to say things do not go well for the humans that encounter these menacing marionettes.
7. Billy in Dead Silence (2007)
Director James Wan and cinematographer John R. Leonetti once again use a creepy doll to great effect in this violent horror movie about a murderous ventriloquist dummy. In the film, a ventriloquist named Mary Shaw is interred with her dolls after having her tongue cut out by a vengeful mob that suspected her of murdering a young boy. While there are dozens of eerie dolls that could give you nightmares in this film — including the requisite clown doll — the primary villain is a wide-eyed, ventriloquist dummy named Billy that has a nasty habit of ripping people’s tongues out.
8. Zuni hunting fetish doll in Trilogy of Terror aka Terror of the Doll (1975)
In this influential anthology horror telefilm, Amelia (Karen Black) purchases a demonic looking “Zuni hunting fetish doll” for her boyfriend’s birthday. Unfortunately, this creepy doll is more than just a wildly inappropriate birthday present, it’s also a miniature killer powered by the spirit of a murderous Zuni warrior that is only restrained by a gold chain wrapped around it. Naturally, it’s not long before the gold chain falls off and the little sharp-toothed doll is pursuing Amelia around her apartment, screaming like the Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil. While she finally manages to destroy the doll, events unexpectedly take a turn for the worse in an unforgettable twist ending.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS
Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!