11 Awesome creepy doll movies

"Who doesn't love ya, baby?"
As Halloween is on the horizon and the Frankenstorm bares down on us, I think it's the perfect time to take a look at one of the most reviled horror movie staples: the creepy doll. 

It's a wonder that kids aren't utterly terrified of Raggedy Ann & Andy with all of these dolls coming to life and killing people in the movies. They are supposed to bring joy to the little girls and boys, but they really just bring anxiety and fear. Like clowns.

All creepy doll movies have similar hallmarks:
  • Nine times out of 10, the doll is possessed. The other one time, they're enacting revenge for mistreatment.
  • The dolls always talk, even if they don't have strings.
  • If the doll is moved or thrown away, it always comes back.
  • Ventriloquist dummies are always the ones in control of the act.
  • Every time the doll shows up, tinkly nursery rhyme music plays.
  • If the doll is insulted or mistreated in any way, someone dies.
Today, I've listed my personal favorites for your enjoyment (I know I usually do 13 in my lists, but frankly, I've just about had it with creepy doll movies):

11. Child's Play (1988)
I love horror films where the killer says funny things before he slices and dices his/her victims in creative ways. Here are a few of the best lines from one of the most infamous creepy dolls in filmdom...Chucky:
"Goodnight, asshole." 
"You have a date with death." 
"You stupid bitch! I'll teach you to mess with me!" 
Lady: Ugly doll.  Chucky: Fuck you.
That Chucky...he's such a jerk!
Creep factor: 3
Hilarity factor: 10

10. Dead of Night (1945)
Why do ventriloquists in horror movies always sell their souls for a successful career? I mean, who really wants to be a professional ventriloquist that badly? Anyway, the doll portion doesn't come until the very end of the movie, so you'll have to wait a bit for it, and it's good in the meantime. I'm not sure if the puppeteer really sold his soul here, but he is definitely crazy and thinks the dummy is alive and operates completely under its' Svengali-like control...and it drives him to kill. 
Creep factor: 4
Hilarity factor: 7

9. Demonic Toys (1992)
This movie is actually really stupid (I know, crazy, right?), but is worth a watch for 1.) the man-eating teddy bear and 2.) the cussing baby doll who has more funny lines than Chucky, such as: "Hi, you fat fuck! I'm Baby Oopsy-Daisy, you lardass! Will you be my special friend?", "Mother of Satan!" and "You're heavy, you Moby fucking Dick!"
Creep factor: 1 (clown doll)
Hilarity factor: 6

8. Poltergeist (1982)
Everyone knows clowns are creepy. The only person in the world who probably likes clowns is someone like Mary Lou Retton, who I'm guessing likes everybody. The parents in this movie deserve the hauntings and the decomposing corpses in their swimming pool for buying their buck-toothed son a horrifying clown doll that he throws under his bed so he doesn't have to look at it. Of course, Bozo comes to life and tries to yank him under there, too. And then a tree comes to life and tries to eat him, his sister gets sucked into a closet and talks through the TV and a guy who looks like my elementary school guidance counselor claws his own face off. P.S. This movie is rated PG!
Creep factor: 7
Hilarity factor: 3 (the medium is kind of funny)

7. Dolls (1987)
This is one of those satisfying movies where all the awful people get creamed and the nice ones get a shiny, happy ending. It's also one of those satisfying horror movies with live-action animation of tiny dolls blocking the paths of full-grown adults, gang-tackling them and sawing them up with tiny weapons. The awful people in this one include two drifter chicks with fake British accents who are both sporting Boy Toy-era Madonna wear and a stick-in-the-mud stepmother in a turban and floor-length fur who signs her own death certificate by throwing a little girl's teddy bear away.
Creep factor: 3
Hilarity factor: 8

6. Magic (1978)
Anthony Hopkins' ventriloquist/magic act is a big hit, thanks mainly to the asshole persona of his dummy Fats. Burgess Meredith gets him his own TV show (which I hope is way better than that one guy with the puppets who is on Comedy Central all the time—he blows) and Hopkins freaks out because he's afraid of success. He takes off for some alone time in the Catskills with Ann-Margaret, but it soon becomes clear that Fats is far more than just a wooden creeper: HE'S ANTHONY HOPKINS HIMSELF. Or something like that. Anyway, it's really good and also very sad.
Creep factor: 6
Hilarity factor: 0

Someone opened the ark...and didn't look away!
5. Puppet Master (1989)
This straight-to-video classic features an incomprehensible "plot," a protagonist with feathered Robert Wagner hair and a cavalry of unforgettable living dolls, including:
  • One with a tiny head, huge hands and brute strength
  • Mr. Drill Head
  • A lady doll who spits up leeches
  • My personal favorite, Lil' Skullface, complete with a mini hook hand (see picture at left)!
There's also lots of doll throwing in this movie, which always makes me laugh at first because, come on...the doll is about 1/18th of your size and weighs as much as a pillow, and yet it's somehow overpowering you and eating your face off. But the laughter doesn't last long, because I know damn well what's coming next.
Creep factor: 0
Hilarity factor: 10

4. Dead Silence (2007)
The cast alone should make you want to see this one: True Blood's Ryan Kwanten as a widower who just has to find answers, Donnie Wahlberg as a wisecracking cop, Amber Valetta as a gold-digging socialite (the only role she ever plays) and the warden from Shawshank Prison as an aging fatcat. Despite lackluster reviews, I personally really enjoyed this fun romp that includes some some genuine humor and genuine scares (and a doll cemetery complete with little wooden coffins!!!).
Creep factor: 8
Hilarity factor: 8

3. "The Twilight Zone" (Episode 126; 1963) 
It's not a movie, but it's a classic. Telly Savalas threatens a talking doll by holding a match close to her, throwing her across the room, tossing her in a trash can and putting bricks on the lid, squishing her plastic head in a vice and running her neck through a ban saw. The doll doesn't take to kindly to Telly's torture. Her infamous (and awesome) response: "Hi, I'm Talky Tina and I'm going to KILL YOU!" 
Creep factor: 9
Hilarity factor: 8

2. Devil Doll (1964)
Here we go again with the career ventriloquists. In this film, the dummy Hugo helps his "master" The Great Vorelli become a sensation when he astounds audiences by actually getting off Vorelli's lap, walking to the front of the stage and greeting the crowd. The morons around Vorelli think he's really just an amazing magician, but the truth is MUCH. MORE. SINISTER. Hugo is a loose cannon and needs to be locked in a cage every night. Hugo and Vorelli even have a stand-off at a cocktail party where the dummy menaces the magician with a butter knife. It's a must-see for that scene alone.
Creep factor: 9

Hilarity factor: 9

The next person who recommends Pantene gets stabbed in the face.
1. Trilogy of Terror (1975)
The "zulu fetish doll" segment, starring the always awesome Karen Black, has the dubious honor of being both legitimately creepy and unabashedly hilarious. If the little zulu statue with the piranha-like teeth, itty-bitty spear and cat-on-a-fence-at-midnight screechings isn't fabulous enough, his "attacks" are even better. He pops out of the bathtub! He somehow manages to open a door, despite being about a foot tall! He jabs a steak knife under doors! He saws his way out of a suitcase! And of course (spoiler alert!) he wins in the end. They always do!
Creep factor: 10
Hilarity factor: 10,000

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey how could you not include the SAW Series Puppet?? He was scary as F*CK! Love your blog...!!