A Chronological Look at Scary Dolls and Puppets Birthed by Horror Movies
Dolls and puppets, every little girls’ favorite toy to play with, ask for at Christmas. However, she might not realize that every doll and puppet has a history and story behind it. There are legends, myths, stories, and tales told about certain dolls and puppets coming to life or being possessed by the devil himself!
What about creepy dolls and puppets in horror movies? How many are there? What is that all about? As I go through the list of creepy doll movies, some are good, some are bad, some are based on real events, and some are just rip-offs of actual, good movies.
Gabbo Puppet- The Great Gabbo (1929)
Creepy doll movies do not necessarily have to be in the horror genre, in-fact this 1929 movie titled The Great Gabbo. What made the movie creepy was the puppet of Otto, who was ventriloquized by Gabbo. As the movie plays out, Gabbo becomes insane and his doll ‘comes to life’ in his eyes. He even transferred his soul into the doll to become a part of it.
Hugo Puppet – Dead of Night (1945)
The Great Gabbo was followed by the black and white 1945 movie, Dead of Night. This film follows another ventriloquist with a dummy named Hugo. The ventriloquist has a split personality, and his other half is instilled in the dummy. This movie is more of a psychological fucking, plus, Hugo the doll, is quite creepy to look at. Coincidentally, this movie is an inspiration to the great John Carpenter, whom later created Michael Myers in 1978.
Zuni Doll – Trilogy of Terror (1975)
1975 gave us the wonderful movie, Trilogy of Terror, in which it is an actual doll come to life and be a killer. Zuni, which is the doll in the third installment of this ‘trilogy’. A woman is terrorized in her apartment by this doll, Zuni, who is an aboriginal warrior equipped with razor sharp teeth and a spear. She is suddenly attacked by Zuni, who stabs her in the ankles repeatedly. Towards the end of the movie, the doll dies, but the spirit is transferred into the woman. This is the first doll transportation of possession within a human.
Poltergeist Clown Doll – Poltergeist (1982)
In 1982, the nightmare of a movie called the Poltergeist premiered in theaters. Out of the whole movie, most people remember the creepy clown come to life. Even though the screen time for this creepy clown doll, it is the most memorable scene. The point of the smile and the main purpose of the clown in the movie was to become a distraction from the abduction of Carol Anne in the movie. There is the 2015 remake, in which they attempted again with this scare, but somehow failed to bring the amount of terror through the clown doll than the 1982 version.
Chucky Doll – Child’s Play (1988)
One of the most infamous dolls that we all remember is from the year 1988, in which Chucky was introduced to us all with the premier of Child’s Play. Chucky was introduced at the same time that the My Buddy doll was in stores in real life. One in particular came to life after a murderer transferred his soul into one of the Good Guy dolls in a Chicago toy store.
Check Out Our Review of Child’s Play (1988)!
This franchise has seven movies in which the infamous serial killer of Charles Ray (Chucky) inhabits the body of a My Buddy doll, where he ends up killing and manipulating others into believing his tricks. In some of these movies, another doll gets inhabited by Charles Ray’s girlfriend/wife, Tiffany and they collaborate together to continue their murdering spree.
Puppet Master Puppets – Puppet Master (1989)
After Child’s Play puppet became all the rage and in 1989 we were blessed with Puppet Master! This movie began a snowball effect and became a cult sensation; the five puppets were animated by an Egyptian spell, which meant each of them had their own personalities, equipped with their own murderous device, and were murderous associates to their Master.
The puppets: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Leech Woman, and Tunneler were all individualized, and some viewers preferred one to the other, which added to the fun of the movie. The Puppet Master traveled with this marionette show, until he killed himself, leaving his puppets in limbo and alone for between forty to fifty years, until they were discovered.
Check Out Our Review of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich!
There has been ten sequels, like Puppet Master 2 in 1990 or the 2003 movie of Puppet Master: The Legacy. Blade is the most popular out of the puppets that the Puppet Master movies have showcased, in which alone, he has a movie of his own coming out in 2020 called, Blade: The Iron Cross.
Billy the Puppet – Saw (2004)
In 2004, another iconic creepy doll appeared onto the big screen (which is my personal favorite), Billy the doll from the notorious franchise, Saw. Although, Billy is an animatronic and does not come to life, he is used to extend the puppeteers’ voice into delivering the messages of death to the victims of Jigsaw – John Kramer.
Throughout time and throughout each Saw movie, Billy has been upgrades with minor changes to make him look creepier. The way he moves, rides his tricycle, and the way his eyes permeate through the fog or lights really give your soul a frightening jump.
Billy the Puppet – Dead Silence (2007)
Saw gave way for another freaky doll that was supposed to be a prequel to Billy the Doll from Saw – which ironically is Billy the Doll from the 2007 movie of Dead Silence. This doll freaked me out, along with many others due to the movements that he made when the camera panned out of focus from him and to the puppeteer. You have to look in the background to see his menacing movements, but the doll represented the Angel of Death in delivering any victim to their demise quickly.
A little Easter Egg about this movie though is a scene in the movie where there are shelves of Billy the Doll in different forms, in this scene, you can see Billy the Doll from the Saw franchise laying on the ground.
Annabelle Doll – Annabelle (2014)
The next and final doll of this post deals with one that is truly based on a true story, reality, and actually exists, locked up in a special cage/display. We are all familiar with Ed and Lorraine Warren and their encounters with the paranormal. One of the most notable hauntings the Warrens dealt with was that of the possessed Raggedy Ann doll named Annabelle.
Although not portrayed as a Raggedy Ann doll in the 2013 movie The Conjuring, she was portrayed as this very evil, creepy, and possessed doll. The doll’s story goes deeper, and she is given her own ‘trilogy’ between the years 2014 to 2019. Annabelle’s presence in the movies was creepy because she appeared in various places at random times.
Our Annabelle Comes Home Review!
The real Annabelle doll is locked up in the Warren’s Occult Museum in a special case. Even though she is sealed in this case, she cannot move, but she is still said to be responsible for deaths if the case is touched or messed with. The Warrens (RIP) have warned many, “You do not challenge evil, that no man is more powerful than Satan.”