Horror has never been shy about putting the fear of evil into small playful objects. In our latest list we’ve compiled what we feel is the best of these creepy (and often “stay with you long after” type) films that have used the theme of evil and dolls in a most horrific way.
The list was completed when the character of “Annabelle” came onto the market by not only keeping the horror dolls trend effective, but managing to pull it off quite well. In research, I must say that there are actually quite a bit more than 10 appropriate selections. Those who want to comment and contribute, we’ll make sure to add them as “special mentions” below.
(so feel free to leave your comments on missed freaky-ass dolls not on the list.)
We took the liberty of combining dolls and ventriloquist dummies to this list (as “really” the product is quite similar (without getting into semantics)). We also took the liberty of adding 1 film which really was more about mannequins than dolls, (again semantics that we choose to ignore) as the entry was too good to leave off. Hopefully this list offers more than just a re-hash of everything else you’ve read about scary dolls. In the very least, you should walk away with 1 or 2 recommended films to check out.
(not in ranking order)
1- The Conjuring (2013) – Annabelle (first franchise apperance)
A impressively effective horror film in its own right, The Conjuring was the induction of one of the creepiest doll films of all time, namely “Annabelle”, an evil possessed doll which carried alot of baggage along with it. The film teetered between the evil possessed doll and evil sprites calling in a husband and wife team to help rid a residence in need of the rogue spirit removal. The doll itself was seized and quarantined to a glass case of which it still today (the real doll this movie was based on was a raggedy Ann doll). The prop doll used was indeed creepy on its own adding an extra “get under your skin” flair to the production. This was the first film leading up to the 2014 release of Annabelle (a prequel).
2- Dead Silence (2007) – Billy
A great scary doll horror film directed by James Wan (of SAW fame). The focal doll “Billy” bares a resemblance to “Fats” from the movie “Magic” while still standing on its own as a worthy inclusion. Mary Shaw (as the prime villain of this film) was obsessed with dolls and creating the perfect ventriloquist dummy. She becomes the the prime subject of a dark poem that haunted the town of Ravens Fair, the location this story is set in.
“Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. If you see her in your dreams, make sure you never ever scream, or she’ll cut your tongue out at the seam”
Billy made his appearance in the film’s first opening scene planting a chilling introduction to the horror that awaits. The movie Dead Silence had plenty of ventriloquist dolls aimed to send shivers, but it was Billy that remained the focal doll of this film. The movie received mix reviews despite being down-right creepy and still effective in its unique toned presentation. Ventriloquist doll Billy will forever remain the prime image of this film’s posters and DVD art.
3- Magic (1978) – Fats
Magic (1978) was an early iconic horror film that introduced us to the acting talents of Anthony Hopkins. Anyone who was around in the 80’s knew the face of the ventriloquist dummy Fats who graced the film’s movie posters. For quite a long time Fats was relatively unchallenged in the department of “effectively creepy dolls”. He never lost his appeal, though years later now shares the horror spotlight with several new contenders. Regardless,Fats lives on and will always make the cut in “doll horror” best-of lists.
4- Poltergeist (1982) – Scary clown doll
When the subject of “scary clown” or “dolls” comes up, there is always someone in the room that proclaims “ya the scary clown doll from Poltergeist freaked me out”…it never fails.
Well you also have to admit that the film Poltergeist was pretty effective across the board as a solid horror film (I thought so anyways). However, it was the scary clown doll that left a permanent mark upon our psyches.
Word to the wise…..don’t buy creepy clown dolls leaving them to sit in a rocking chair facing your bed. You’re just asking for trouble AND it makes for quite the restful paranoid-sleep experience. It was 1982 which marked the year that less of us wanted to look under the bed when we heard a noise at night.
5- Child’s Play (1988) – Chucky
Chucky is one of horror’s most well known horror icons. The rather extensive franchise that followed created an cult following after its main character. “Child’s Play” introduced us to Chucky, a doll which became the host to the serial killer “The Lakeshore Strangler”. Possessed by this evil spirit, Chucky becomes active and animated culminating in a murderous slasher-style rampage.
The plights of Chucky often cross over into the dark humor end of things, but for horror fans Chucky has indeed become a mainstay as one of the scariest dolls of all time. Child’s Play transformed into a franchise that spawned 5 sequels later taking on the name of its iconic character. Like the villain Freddy Krueger, Chucky became more absurd as his legacy grew.
6- SAW (2004)– Jigsaw (writer’s name – “Billy”)
Saw, has us duped from the start with a mysterious evil doll by the name of jigsaw that would appear to captives per way of a recorded video. The doll of course became known as just a decoy prop for the real Jigsaw mastermind “The Jigsaw Killer” played by actor Tobin Bell. However, this goofy looking doll was forever attached tot he series as its most iconic image that even today is still seen as a popular item during Halloween season. A trivia item: the term Jigsaw was given to the killer himself by the media for his practice of cutting puzzle piece shapes of flesh from those who failed his tests. The doll itself began to receive less screen time as the actor Tobin Bell was pushed into the spotlight. The Jigsaw doll was and still is among the top scary dolls of all time.
Note: The actual doll name was never identified in the films.
7- Trilogy of Terror (1975) – Zuni Doll
I hear about the famed creepy “Zuni Doll” more than any on this list. The film starred actress Karen Black in the film’s anthology design. The 3rd short film of trilogy was called “Amelia” using a Zuni fetish doll as its main antagonist. The doll was most remembered for its aggressive appearance that featured razor sharp teeth and a spear. This Zuni doll quickly becomes the main terror to this episode as its possessed spirit inflicts terror upon Amelia. The film originated in the 70’s and was for that time very effective in thrilling viewer audiences. The memory of this creepy doll is often kept alive in conversations where older generations still to this day remember how the doll impacted them. The Zuni Doll is here to stay as a doll to be reckoned with.
8- Making Contact (1985) – Fletcher
I had almost forgotten about this creepy doll film seeing that the movie has really been off the radar (as far as being available) for a long period of time (and not to mention absent from most of the doll lists out there). I had purchased the “Making Contact” film back when it was on the market for a short while before it disappeared (again). The film was originally called “Joey” and was one of those films that had a brief run on late night HBO. Making Contact is a West Germany production, which meant that you had to deal with overdubs and subtitles. However, none-the-less it is an interesting film.
An evil talking dummy named Fletcher begins to make life hard for Joey who realizes that he has certain psychic powers. Fletcher gets empowered by a demon causing quite a supernatural stir. Joey has to venture over into the spiritual world to do battle. The movie itself was hit or miss. However per the comments still churning out today, it was a pretty effective scary doll film.
9- Tourist Trap (1979) – various
Technically mannequins, this film has so many mannequin “doll-ish” moments using inanimate objects that it had to be on this list due to pure intensity. The core of this film rests on actor Chuck Connors who is a loner psychopath with telekinetic powers operating an off road tourist stop. This gets a bit “confused” as we experience creepy mannequins and dolls coming to life terrorizing a young group of friends. For a 70’s film, this is easily among my favorites and still to this day an effective and weird experience to sit through. I highly recommend it. If you feel Tourist Trap is not doll-ish enough to be on this list…then use it as an excuse to check it out anyways.
10- Annabelle (2014) – Annabelle
The queen of scary dolls, this 2014 film is highly effective in managing to creep the crap out of you. The film not only makes the scary doll list, but is also one of the scariest films of 2014.
Annabelle is possessed by a satanic murdering cult member who dies as she is holding the doll. The doll becomes a portal host for the evil spirit of the deceased maniac. Hell, any doll that is thrown into the garbage and mysteriously shows back up on your shelf is a reason to pack it up and leave. Annabelle is a must-see film directed by John R. Leonetti. The film is surely an indication that “The Conjuring” franchise is indeed becoming a go-to horror experience. I thought at the time that this would make for a great Halloween mask. (Since the movie arrived too close to 2014 Halloween, it may be too soon for franchise products …maybe next year!)
Annabelle: Creation (2017) – Annabelle
Annabelle continues to scare audiences by combining possession, ghosts, demons and a rather nasty attitude in general. The 2nd of the Annabelle franchise, but technically the 3rd appearance (The Conjuring Universe). The doll itself appears to be a conduit for the pissed doff deceased Annabelle, however at this point we are going to assume it’s just a nasty demon having its way
The Boy (2016) – Brahms
A new worthy entry into the scary dolls film category. While we don’t want to spoil the fun, Brahms is horror’s latest creepy doll setting the tone and foundation for this 2016 horror piece. The film itself is a pretty interesting take worth the watch, check it out!
Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984)
Blood Dolls (1999)
Death Doll (1989)
Demonic Toys (1992)
Devil Doll (1964)
Doll Graveyard (2005)
Dollman vs. Demonic Toys (1993)
Dolly Dearest (1991)
Franchise: Child’s Play / Chucky films
Gingerdead Man Vs. Evil Bong (2013)
Pinocchio’s Revenge (1996
The Pit (1981)