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The Top 15 Scariest Dolls of Cinema and Television

By on 5 March 2014 | comments 7

THERE is just something inherently creepy about a doll coming to life. I think it falls into the same category as clowns, kids and the elderly.  Because they are supposed to be so benign or innocent, it becomes all the more warped and vulgar when they take a bloodthirsty bent.

The devil doll trope didn’t start with Chucky. In fact, you could go back centuries via fairy tales and the golem mythology. In terms of cinema, you could start with The Devil Doll (1936) or Dead of Night (1946). However, we’ll concentrate on films from the 1970s and adjacent decades.

So, here are the top demonic doll movie moments from  the 1960s through the 80s. If there’s any egregious omissions, please fill me in, and let’s make this list grow!

 

15. CHILD’S PLAY (1988)

 

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Woefully cheesy, this film just doesn’t do anything for me. However, I recognize it’s earned its place on the list of evil dolls, so here’s Chucky. Moving right along….

 

14. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979)

 

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This one is in on down the list because it’s really not a demonic doll at all. The camera just lingers on it during a particularly tense scene (the director was supposedly making a statement about racism – whatever). For years I remembered this doll having glowing red eyes, until I re-watched it in the late eighties.  Evidently, this is a common remembrance among Gen Xers.  What gives?

In the film, there are glowing red eyes… but not from the doll. Plus, there was a particularly horrifying episode of In Search Of… (hosted by Leonard Nimoy) which DID feature a doll with glowing red eyes. Mystery solved.

 

 

13. THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1963)

 

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“The Living Doll” episode where the doll tells Telly Savalas “My name is Talking Tina and I’m going to kill you!”

 

 

12. BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN (1971)

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A tyke’s baby doll goes on a murderous rampage. The term “troubling” doesn’t quite cover it.

 

11. JOE 90 (1968)

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Gerry Anderson’s supermarionation was always a little bit creepy (Thunderbirds, Supercar, Stingray), but he kicked it up a notch with JOE 90 (and Captain Scarlet). The vacant stares still haunt me. Why is it scary? It’s about the Uncanny Valley Principle.

 

 

10.  TOURIST TRAP (1979)

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“Slausen’s Lost Oasis” operated by Chuck Connors, the maniacal manikin maker.  It’s every bit as stupid as it sounds, but his creations are downright scary.

 

9. THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1962)

 

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“The Dummy” episode featuring Cliff Robertson and his murderous ventriloquist dummy from hell.

 

 

8. BARBARELLA (1968)

 

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Jane Fonda is tied up and attacked by leaping, biting alien piranha dolls. Not near as sexy as it sounds.

 

 

7. JOEY (1985)

 

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From the director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow comes this odd tale involving a particularly evil ventriloquist doll named Fletcher who does with his eyes what Sith Lords do with their fingers.

 

 

6. ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS

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“The Glass Eye” episode (with Captain Kirk) where a midget pretends to be a ventriloquist dummy.

 

 

5. MAGIC (1978)

 

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Anthony Hopkins’ bloodthirsty ventriloquist doll, Fats doesn’t take a liking to Ann Margaret or Burgess Meredith.

 

 

4. BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL (1984)

 

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This dummy makes Chucky look like a Care Bear. The grainy film and Casio soundtrack make it seem like a puppet snuff film.

 

 

3. POLTERGEIST (1982)

 

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This is what nightmares are made of, folks.

 

 

2. TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975)

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Generation X sat down in front of The Movie of the Week expecting the typical lame affair…. and walked away with a lifetime of trauma.

 

 

1. ESCALOFRIO (1978)

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This Spanish film will forever haunt me. Only The Exorcist and The Omen can claim to have imbued an equal level of satanic chills in their films. Watch at your own peril – I’m still wrestling with the evil that this godforsaken film brought to my world…. and that godforsaken doll (shiver)…. best to move on.

  • Andrew Kidd

    Where is Michael Redgrave’s dummy from DEAD OF NIGHT?

    • vmacek

      He’s mentioned in the intro text where it says they’re concentrating on later entries. And yes, he did deserve mention – creepy stuff.

      I’ll throw in a “Night Gallery” episode where an English colonial officer received a nasty looking doll as a revenge curse. And oh yeah, the “Simpsons” evil Krusty doll!

      • Andrew Kidd

        Yes, that NG episode was excellent!

  • http://wings1295.blogspot.com/ Caffeinated Joe

    The top one on your list reminds me of one of my favorite scary dolls – Vita from the premiere episode of Friday the 13th: The Series. I did a write up on her here: http://wings1295.blogspot.com/2012/09/f13ts-25-inheritance.html

  • http://www.kellywittmann.com/ Kelly Wittmann

    As someone who named my born-bald kitten “Telly,” I thank you for that hilarious photo!

  • Guest

    Ahhhh yes the red glowing eye mystery. Solved that one myself a few years back. “Did I just imagine that scene?” Oh the confusion. Glad I’m not the only one who’s memory mashed those two sources of childhood terror together.

    Here is another kindertraumatic doll/puppet source. It’s a regular segment from the (overall disturbing) ’70’s PBS kids show called Vegetable Soup. The segment is called “Outerscope” and is about a group of (puppet) kids who build a rickety spaceship and have all kinds of very surreal adventures. These kid puppets really creeped me out for some reason but I couldn’t stop watching.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRcNIqrZ6KI

  • Guest

    Ahhhh yes the red glowing eye mystery. Solved that one myself a few
    years back. “Did I just imagine that scene?” Oh the confusion. Glad I’m
    not the only one who’s memory mashed those two sources of childhood
    terror together.

    Here is another kindertraumatic doll/puppet source. It’s a regular
    segment from the (overall disturbing) ’70’s PBS kids show called
    Vegetable Soup. The segment is called “Outerscope” and is about a group
    of (puppet) kids who build a rickety spaceship and have all kinds of
    very surreal adventures. These kid puppets really creeped me out for
    some reason but I couldn’t stop watching.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v