Few toys have the potential to be as sinister as dolls. Whether it’s their unblinking eyes, their eerily frozen smiles, or the fact that we’re pretty sure they move as soon as we turn our backs, dolls are often more creepy than cute. And fear of dolls (otherwise known as pediophobia) is so widespread that it’s been explored to horrifying effect on -screen. Below are five of the scariest dolls from horror movies: They'll have you sleeping with one eye open.
Chucky from The Child’s Play Series
Thanks in large part to the voice acting of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s Brad Dourif as Chucky, this pint-sized murderer has joined the ranks of iconic killers from slasher films. His bloody legacy has spawned a slew of sequels, most recently 2017’s surprisingly fun Cult of Chucky. The franchise follows occult serial killer Charles Lee Ray (named after actual murderers Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray), who transfers his spirit into a “Good Guy” doll to avoid death and terrorizes the many unfortunate people who cross the path of the vessel in which his soul resides.
Related: The 5 Scariest Haunted Dolls
All the dolls from Dolls
Beating Child’s Play to theaters by a year, Stuart Gordon’s Dolls presents an equally grisly but very different story of deadly playthings. Equal parts twisted fairy tale (from the screenwriter of Troll, no less) and old dark house film, Dolls crams every shadowy frame with tons of creepy dolls. Not to mention the doll-like fate that befalls one of the doomed punk girls who takes refuge in the old house, or the grisly discovery of what lies beneath those porcelain features …
Annabelle, from The Conjuring, Annabelle, and Annabelle: Creation
The horrifying doll Annabelle stole the show in James Wan’s The Conjuring, despite having a relatively small role in the 2013 haunted house movie. Anabelle went on to star in her own movies; 2014’s Annabelle, and 2017’s prequel Annabelle: Creation. Part of the horror behind Annabelle is no doubt due to the fact that she’s based on a real haunted doll named Annabelle, who is famously kept in a glass case in Ed and Lorraine Warren’s Occult Museum.
He Who Kills, from Trilogy of Terror
The murderous doll, He Who Kills, steals the show in the made-for-TV 1975 anthology horror film Trilogy of Terror. The final installment is based on the short story “Prey” by I am Legend author Richard Matheson and stars Karen Black as Amelia, a young woman who must battle a ferocious evil doll while alone in her apartment.
Talky Tina, from The Twilight Zone’s “Living Doll”
The 1963 Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll” put a terrifying spin on the Chatty Cathy dolls that were all the rage at the time the episode first aired. The Chatty Cathy stand-in in the episode is Talky Tina, known for comforting catchphrases like “My name is Talky Tina and I love you.” But when Erich winds up the Talky Tina doll that belongs to his girlfriend’s daughter, her sentimental phrases take a sinister turn for the worse...
Dolls, puppets, and other miniaturized representations of humans have always held a sinister power for people. And that fascination has led to countless movies about scary dolls; so many that there’s no way we could honor every scary doll movie in one post. Did we leave off one of your favorite dolls? Want to petition for the inclusion of the clown doll from Poltergeist, or Brahms from The Boy? Let us know in the comments below! And remember: iIf you collect dolls, maybe take a page from the Warrens' book, and keep those creeps under lock and key.
Featured still from "Annabelle: Creation" via Warner Bros. Pictures.