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Chucky Isn't Alone: The Creepiest Killer Dolls in Cinematic History
Sure, Chucky is the worst of the worst, but there's been no shortage of killer dolls in movies over the years.
Although his USA Network and SYFY original series Chucky solidifies his place as the scariest, creepiest, and most murder-y doll in cinematic history, Charles Lee Ray is actually not alone in the category.
Sure Chucky is everyone’s go-to pop culture example of a doll that’s out to get you, but he’s hardly the only killer doll to have ever graced movie screens. Even if creator Don Mancini perfected the genre, dolls have been the subject of horror for decades given that human beings are hardwired to be repulsed by the little creeps if they get too lifelike.
So, as we wait to see what fresh hell Chucky has cooked up in Season 3 — which premieres on October 4 — we can take a look back at some of the other totally messed up evil dolls who have tried to take the creepy crown in the past.
Annabelle from The Conjuring
First introduced at the opening of the movie The Conjuring, Annabelle is the film adaptation of the real-life haunted doll that’s said to be inhabited by the spirit of a malevolent demon determined to haunt everyone who crosses her.
The cinematic version of Annabelle went on to have cameos in The Conjuring 2, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and reappeared in some standalone movies of her own like Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, Annabelle Comes Home. She also had a brief cameo in The Curse of La Llorona. In short, she had such an impact on fans of The Conjuring universe that she just keeps coming back. Sound like another killer doll you know?
Unlike Chucky, though, Annabelle isn’t traditionally animated, opting instead to act out through supernatural powers rather than actually scurrying around the house herself.
Blade from Puppet Master
Perhaps one of the only killer dolls to have more movies under his belt than Chucky himself, Blade is the leader of the pack in the Puppet Master franchise. It is explained he was built by Andre Toulon in Berlin during World War II. However, like Chucky, he is inhabited by the soul of a human being.
Blade, with his signature white face, hook hand, blade arm, and snappy fedora, is actually the vessel for Dr. Hess, a German surgeon who turned against the Nazis.
While that may put him on the right side of history, he is not at all a good guy. Like all evil puppets, he’ll attempt to kill you the first chance he gets and often uses his seemingly innocent appearance to get close enough to hit you where it hurts.
Fats from Magic
Long before he was portraying everyone’s favorite cannibal in Silence of the Lambs, actor Anthony Hopkins was being creepy as Charles “Corky” Withers in the 1978 film Magic.
Withers is a magician who quickly realizes he can’t make a living doing card tricks alone. So, at the behest of his talent managers, he returns after a brief absence with a new gimmick, a foul-mouthed ventriloquist dummy named Fats. Their act is a hit and Corky even gets a shot at having his own TV show with Fats. However, rather than sign the contract, he runs away to the Catskills to see his old high school love.
It is revealed that Corky ran because he couldn’t handle the mental evaluation the network wanted him to undergo. It turns out, Fats isn’t just an act: Corky is literally unable to not keep the dummy animated and talking, even when his intentions turn murderous.
Unlike other dolls on this list, Fats isn’t possessed, but he is very much alive in the mind of his owner and therefore capable of doing some real, horrifying harm.
Billy The Puppet from SAW
The Saw movies are about a series of sinister games concocted by a madman with a vendetta against people he deems morally bankrupt. The games are designed to make people horribly mutilate or disfigure themselves in a way that the killer, Jigsaw, believes is poetic justice.
In order to actually explain these games and the victim’s situation, Jigsaw relies on the use of Billy the Puppet, a sinister-looking clown doll in a dapper black suit who rides a tricycle. Whether appearing live in the game room or via video, Billy is the vessel for which Jigsaw appears to his victims. Unlike other killer dolls, there is no attempt to pretend Billy is really alive.
No, Billy is simply the product of a brilliant engineer and craftsman who is using his skills for true, twisted evil. Still, in the pantheon of killer dolls, Billy is one of the main ones you don’t want to find yourself locked up in a room with.
Robbie’s Clown from Poltergeist
Who could forget one of the most memorable jumpscares in cinematic history?
Robbie and his family from the movie Poltergeist were being haunted and essentially tortured by an evil spirit dwelling within their new home. It manifested itself in many ways, but easily the spookiest was through the scary clown doll in Robbie’s bedroom.
The thing that was supposedly a toy for kids always creeped the young boy out, but when he awoke in the night to find it wasn’t where he left it, he looked under the bed to see if it was lying in wait for him. It wasn’t under there, because it was already on the bed ready to wrap its weird little clown arms around his neck and drag him off to be harmed.
Although it was a simple, brief moment in the movie, Robbie’s clown doll remains high on the list of killer dolls who have forced their way into audiences’ nightmares over the years.
M3GAN from M3GAN
Last but not least is the latest addition to the evil doll archives: M3GAN, the eponymous breakout star of the 2023 horror film by director Gerard Johnstone. As played by Amie Donald, M3GAN goes from recently orphaned Cady's (Violet McGraw) best friend and protector to an overbearing killer bent on destroying her whole life. While Cady's aunt, Gemma (Allison Williams), did her best to design a doll that would comfort her grieving niece (and push the boundaries of A.I. as we know it), the result was ... a bit more violent than she likely anticipated.
Sure, M3GAN beats down bullies and dances like no other, but there's no doubting her place in the cultural lexicon of creepy (killer) dolls.
You can watch Chucky carve his way into more nightmares when Season 3 premieres on October 4 on USA Network and SYFY, streaming nextday on Peacock.
Chucky Season 1 and 2 are available on Peacock.
Originally published Oct 14, 2022.