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The Absolute Scariest Dolls In Movie History

Across the far-reaching category of horror and the many decades that films in the genre have been popular, just about anything you can think of has been turned into a villain or force for evil at least once. While certain monsters work better than others, scary dolls are a pretty safe bet to send chills down the audience's spines. The betrayal and corruption of what should be perfectly harmless toys is what makes them so effective, and what turns them into the truly perfect antagonist for the right story.

This definitely isn't a new concept, of course, as eerie dolls have been making their unwelcome appearances in films and TV shows as far back as 1945's "Dead of Night" and the ever-popular series "The Twilight Zone" (remember Talky Tina?), leaving us with no shortage of tales that make good on their potential over the years. With that in mind, in no particular order, let's round up some of the scariest dolls ever created in cinema history, with each and every one sure to make you want to sleep with the lights on tonight — and any dolls in the house safely locked away.

Billy in Saw

Given its cultural impact, it might be surprising for some readers to find out that the original "Saw" film proved divisive among critics upon release. Despite that, audiences couldn't get enough of the gory 2004 flick, leading to almost too many additions to its grisly story to count nowadays. Past all the twists and turns and at the story's heart, though, is the tale of John Kramer (Tobin Bell), whose personal tragedies leave him with a decidedly new outlook on life. While that might sound like a good thing, it's an outlook that he's determined to share with as many people as possible, no matter what the cost.

Amidst Kramer's transformation, a ventriloquist dummy named Billy that was originally intended for his lost son takes on an entirely new role. Despite not being literally alive or even possessed like a few of our other creepy dolls, Billy serves as the vessel for many of Kramer's twisted traps to come to life, and is the last thing that some of his victims ever see. As if being the face of a crazed serial killer wasn't bad enough, any doll that rides around on a tiny tricycle the whole time is an easy "nope" in our book.

Chucky in Child's Play

As an infamous serial killer named Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) meets his end thanks to the long arm of the law, he uses his last moments alive to transfer his soul into the body of a popular toy doll named, you guessed it, Chucky. The doll in question soon flies off the shelf and winds up in the hands of seven-year-old Andy (Alex Barclay), which is around the same time that Charles' murderous spirit gets a chance to strike again. While few believe Andy's story of Chucky being the perpetrator of the latest string of murders, it seems only the truly supernatural can be to blame as the bodies start to pile up.

We've already talked about Billy's many appearances across the "Saw" franchise, but when it comes to evil dolls that have truly dominated the cultural zeitgeist, few have become more memorable over the years than Chucky. 1988's "Child's Play" marked the first appearance of the knife-wielding plaything, but certainly not the last, with the series giving us new films just often enough over the years to keep terrifying new audiences. It doesn't hurt that some of the newer entries actually aren't half-bad, and manage to surpass the original film in many ways with their new and fun ideas for this wild story.

The Model 3 Generative Android in M3GAN

The newest demented doll on the scene, "M3GAN" should prove to any skeptical audiences that the subgenre still has its place in the world of horror. The story kicks off with the untimely death of the parents of a young girl named Cady (Violet McGraw). Now an orphan, she winds up in the care of her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams), a brilliant engineer and roboticist but wholly unqualified and unprepared for parenthood. Her predicament has a silver lining, however, as for Gemma it's the perfect opportunity to give a new robot she designed expressly for childcare a try. Known as the Model 3 Generative Android, or M3GAN, the experiment winds up becoming a huge success, giving Cady the friend and mentor she desperately needs. Any cause for celebration is unfortunately short-lived, though, as unforeseen complications in M3GAN's programming threaten to do far more harm than good.

Unique for adding a sci-fi twist into a genre typically dominated by themes of magic and mysticism, "M3GAN" has turned out to be a surprise hit with audiences and critics alike (via Rotten Tomatoes), while also proving to be a serious box office draw. It's not hard to see why, as the film isn't afraid to have some fun with the admittedly outlandish premise. Given how fast artificial intelligence seems to be advancing nowadays, however, perhaps the idea of our robot companions going haywire isn't as far-fetched as we'd like to think.

Slappy in Goosebumps

Serving as an entry point into the horror genre for younger audiences, it's hard to top the sensation that was the "Goosebumps" series of books for any child of the '90s. Brought to us by horror novelist R.L. Stine, the countless stories were the perfect source material to be adapted for the big screen, not to mention a hit television series in the mid-'90s. Even though the content of both the books and their film adaptations are decidedly more child-friendly than most of the titles we're taking a look at, it doesn't mean that they wound up being any less creepy.

The films take place in a world in which the monsters from the "Goosebumps" books themselves are very real, but locked away for humanity's safety by none other than R.L. Stine himself. Tragedy strikes, however, when the seal keeping them contained is broken. At the center of the horror-themed madness is Slappy (voiced by Jack Black), a sentient ventriloquist dummy and ringleader of the monsters now seeking revenge against Stine for keeping them imprisoned. Though he's appeared in both the original television series and a number of "Goosebumps" books over the years, it's safe to say that the two recent films did justice to this icon of the franchise, and made him every bit as unsettling as a living ventriloquist dummy ought to be.

Billy in Dead Silence

If you haven't noticed by now, there seems to be something about ventriloquist dummies that makes them the go-to choice whenever an evil doll is needed in a story. We're not sure if it has something to do with them falling firmly into the uncanny valley by way of their glossy yet lifeless eyes, or perhaps their deep connection with their human puppeteers, but either way it definitely works. Fresh off working on both "Saw" and "Saw II," director James Wan would fire up the well-worn ventriloquist dummy trope for the 2007 film "Dead Silence," which takes a much more supernatural turn than his previous titles, while still giving us plenty of nightmarish puppet action.

In the wake of a brutal murder that left his wife dead, Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) sets off to unravel the mystery of her slaying. The journey leads him to the sleepy town of Raven's Fair, which has a bloodstained past of its own. Decades earlier, a local ventriloquist was hanged for the alleged murder of a child, and with her dying breath pledged to be reborn in the body of a doll to achieve her revenge. In the present day, her soul is still condemned to inhabit the cold body of the ventriloquist dummy, named Billy, and waits for the opportunity to see her long-awaited vengeance through.

Brahms in The Boy

What makes a majority of the dolls we're talking about so scary is that, until you least expect it, they act and are treated like inanimate objects by everyone around them. Instead of going down that familiar route, "The Boy" gets off to an immediate and unsettling start when we're introduced to the Heelshire family and their young son Brahms. Hoping to take a vacation soon, they hire a nanny named Greta (Lauren Cohan) to care for Brahms in their absence. As soon as Greta arrives at the Gothic home, however, she realizes that their son isn't a boy at all, but instead a lifeless porcelain doll. Eerily enough, the Heelshires seem none the wiser to this fact, even seating Brahms at dinner and tucking him into bed at night.

While a situation like that would be enough for us to pack our bags and run, Greta presses on. That decision proves to be a terrible mistake once she finally gets the place to herself, as things go from unhinged to terrifying when it becomes clear that Greta may not truly be alone. Is Brahms actually alive? Or is something far more plausible yet equally as sickening at play?

Annabelle in the Conjuring movies

First making an appearance in "The Conjuring" before becoming the object of her own film series, Annabelle might be the ultimate horror doll for those interested, thanks to the expansive story surrounding her. Stained with blood and spanning decades, it's one that's a bit too complex to entirely cover here, but we'll try our best to bring you up to speed.

It all begins with the accidental death of a young girl named Annabelle that leaves her parents understandably stricken with grief. Their mourning and desperation drives them to strike a deal with what they believe to be their daughter's spirit, which they allow to inhabit the body of a porcelain doll. What's residing within instead is a wicked demon, which now has free reign to terrorize and murder as it pleases, and is bound to travel and wreak havoc wherever the doll finds itself. Worse still, as if the terrifying appearance of the doll wasn't enough, Annabelle is inspired by a true story, making the events of the films all the more chilling.

Suzie from the movie May

So far, the cinephiles reading this list are likely familiar with most of the unsettling dolls we've covered. We'll change things up a bit for this one, though, and focus on the movie "May," which follows the life of social outcast May Canady (Angela Bettis). Rejected by her peers from a young age, May finds herself often satisfying her need for companionship in the form of a hand-me-down doll gifted to her by her mother. The unhealthy relationship sabotages the limited interactions she manages to find with real people, and winds up sending her plummeting into a downward spiral with disastrous consequences for all involved.

While most of our picks feature dolls as the creepiest thing on display (literally in this one, as Suzie spends most of her time sealed up in a glass case), "May" is a bit different. Managing to terrify audiences not only with its seemingly lifeless doll, Suzie, but also with its more-than-a-little-unhinged protagonist, "May" is a worthwhile watch for anyone interested in films that balance horrific dolls with equally unsettling people.

Fats from Magic

Released all the way back in 1978, there's certainly nothing magical about the twisted premise of this classic horror flick. Anthony Hopkins stars as Corky Withers, a struggling magician whose career is on the verge of failing entirely. His luck soon takes a turn for the better, however, thanks to the addition of a ventriloquist dummy named Fats to his act. Although Fats proves to be what Corky needs for his career to finally take off, things are unfortunately soon revealed to be far from ideal, as underneath the surface he's hiding a grim secret from the world.

Despite "Magic" being the oldest film we're taking a look at, Fats the dummy won't fail to terrify even some of the steeliest horror fans today. That's thanks to the fact that the true horror in this one doesn't come in the form of the supernatural, but instead from the relationship between Fats and the all-too-real man wielding him. Corky is shown to be struggling with violent tendencies, and the introduction of Fats into his life creates a tragically perfect storm in which he gradually loses all ability to separate his urges from reality.

Blade in Puppet Master

If we're being honest, the idea of living puppets and dolls that have a thirst for blood is already one of the more wild concepts ever put to film. Despite that, the creators of "Puppet Master" and its many, many sequels weren't content with just having an outlandish premise. No, they opted to dial the craziness up to 11 with this 1989 direct-to-video release and the wacky chapters that would follow.

The story begins with a puppeteer named André Toulon (William Hickey) who, shortly before his untimely death, discovers a way to occupy the bodies of puppets with human souls. Decades later, his creations are released from their slumber and go on a murder spree to protect their deceased creators' secrets. At the center of the gang of reanimated dolls is their leader, Blade, a gaunt and darkly clad puppet with a hook for one hand, a knife for the other, and a readiness to slaughter. Blade and his gang aren't all bad, though, as more often than not it seems that they wind up making mincemeat out of Nazis, making them perhaps the most heroic sadistic dolls in our lineup.

The Clown Doll from Poltergeist

Sure, "Poltergeist" might not be the scariest movie ever made by today's standards (it does have just a PG rating after all), but that doesn't mean that this early '80s horror flick can't still stand on its own merits. The story begins as the Freeling family's suburban home becomes the new dwelling for a particularly malicious revenant. The raging spirit immediately starts wreaking havoc, destroying and soon possessing random objects, which is where our doll in question comes into the equation.

If you had to rank some of the scariest things imaginable, clowns are already pretty high up there, and would probably rate pretty closely to possessed dolls for most people. When the two find themselves combined into a single abomination, you're left with the stuff of true nightmares. That's exactly what happens when the poltergeist opts to inhabit a clown doll owned by eight-year-old Robbie (Oliver Robins), nearly strangling him in the process. It's not even the primary antagonist that poor Robbie and the rest of the family have to face off against, but the infamous clown scene has proven itself to still be memorable some 40 years on, and likely scarred at least a few young viewers back in the day.

All of the Dolls in Dolls

Up to this point, we've (mostly) only talked about films that focus on a single, albeit terrifying, doll. But since we've reached the end of our lineup, it's time to dive into one entry that any discussion of movies featuring scary dolls would be remiss to forget about. The straightforward title doesn't leave that much to the imagination, and should give you a pretty clear glimpse of what's to come. What's to come, of course, is far more dolls than you'd want to see in a lifetime, let alone a single night.

The story begins as plenty of horror movies do: A fierce storm forces a group of strangers to seek shelter in the safety of a roadside home, where they're taken in by the seemingly hospitable owners. As the night drags on, and the guests slowly reveal their true colors, the hordes of dolls lurking around the property are ready to dish out justice to those deserving of it. Sure, "Dolls" admittedly has its moments that are campy as all get-out, but we can't say we're disappointed by that.