Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hell Dollies

Dolls have been around almost as long as mankind, and they have always been creepy. Soulless, hollow little humans just ripe for invasion by some horrific entity or other. Before movies about horrid, evil dolls, there were puppet shows, featuring horrid evil characters who beat each other and took great pleasure in each others' pain (what the Germans so lovingly call schadenfruede).

My sister collected dolls when she was a kid (I even got her a REAL Cabbage Patch Doll one year for Christmas) and my mother collected for a while after my sister moved out. I am guilty of still buying one every Christmas for my Godson's sister since she was little (though that may stop soon.. she's in High School! God, I'm old!). And to honest, like any loving older brother, my sister's Barbies went through all kind of hell - her townhouse was the scene of The Towering Inferno and her plane always seemed to land on The Lost Continent.

One of the earliest Horror movies I remember getting to me as a kid was 1936's The Devil Doll, starring Lionel Barrymore as an escapee from Devil's Island who uses miniaturized humans to wreak his revenge on those he blames for framing him. Maureen O'Sullivan is his daughter in this creepy little film directed by Tod Browning (Dracula; Freaks):

The there's the 1959 "Twilight Zone" episode, Living Doll with a not-yet-completely-bald Telly "Kojak" Savalas as the mean father of a little girl whose new doll, Talking Tina, hates him:

Of course, ventriloquists' dummies don't do fare much better. One of the creepiest of those movies is Magic, starring a young Anthony Hopkins as an is-he-or-isn't-he insane ventriloquist trying to renew a romance with his High School crush, played by Ann-Margret. As Corky and Peggy Ann grows closer, Fats becomes more and more jealous. A pre-Gandhi Richard Attenborough directs William Goldman's adaptation of his own novel:

In 2007, Saw writer/ director James Wan brought us a ghostly take on the ventriloquist tale with Dead Silence. Creepy, but renowned ventriloquist Mary Shaw built a town around her theatre. After she cursed the progeny of the town's wealthiest family, she died and had all her dolls buried with her. When one of those dolls shows up at the home of the one family member who managed to get away, killing his wife, he returns to his hometown to get to the bottom of the mystery. Dead Silence is one of those movies that's actually better than you think it's going to be, even if the end is a bit silly:

But it took the 80's to give is the first Killer Doll Franchise, Child's Play:

Chucky's creator David Kirschner went on to write and produce a ton of sequels (each sillier than the last), and in doing so, created two of the funniest camp Horror Movies ever: Bride of Chucky:

Followed by the intentionally hilarious Seed of Chucky:

I'm not sure where to start with that one. "Get a load of Chucky." Seriously? Possibly the lamest tag-line pun, ever. But they do kill Britney and the self-proclaimed King of Bad Taste, John Waters has a cameo, so I suppose it has some things going for it. I also love the "Academy Award Nominee Jennifer Tilly" and "MTV Movie Award Nominee Chucky" blurbs. Shameless. And hilarious.

There is also the 1987 stinker Dolls, about about a group of strangers stranded in a creepy house filled with creepy dolls and toys:

And lets not forget the Direct-to-Video series Puppet Master:

I know there are tons more movies in this category, and as much as I would love to cover them all, frankly, it would take more time than I am willing to devote to the subject (how's that for honesty?). That having been said, what Creepy, Evil Doll movies scare you? Enquiring Minds Want to Know. Leave your comments.

More terrors, anon.


Kathi said...

Not a movie, per se, but a movie of the week that scared me half to death and made me throw away every doll I ever owned. "Trilogy of Terror" with Karen Black and that nasty little african doll that terrorized her through the last story of the trio. He had a huge butcher knife and would come after her screaming Ai yi yi yi yi! And then she ends up possessed. That scared me so bad, that to this day I don't even remember what the first two stories were!

Prospero said...

I meant to include TOT, but got too tired... How lame am i?