Of all the twisted, vile, and horrifying characters in horror movies and television shows, dolls might sound like the least scary. However, the lasting legacies of the likes of Annabelle from The Conjuring, Chucky from Child's Play, and Billy from Saw tell a different story. Most of these killer dolls often appear quite harmless, at times in a bid to lure their victims. So which are the scariest ones of all time, and are there real-life stories behind them?
People have had fascinations with dolls for a long time, both as toys and as objects representing certain aspects of their childhoods. Still, this has not exempted the often innocent-looking toys from being portrayed as villains in numerous films and television shows.
The scariest killer dolls of all time
Here is a look at the scariest horror dolls from popular culture.
10. Hugo from Dead of Night
Dead of Night is a renowned 1945 anthology horror film that was produced in six segments. Besides the film's gripping storyline, fans will also remember the ventriloquist's dummy, known as Hugo. The man-and-puppet act seems perfect until Hugo is shown to have a startling degree of independence.
One day, Hugo's owner, Maxwell, leaves the room, only for the puppet to start negotiating a job offer with his rival, Sylvester. The rival wrongly assumes that to be some form of voice throwing by Maxwell. However, things escalate when the puppet is found in Sylvester's room.
As a result, Maxwell finds himself in an asylum and breaks his scary doll to pieces. Shockingly, the next person Maxwell sees has Hugo's voice.
9. Brahms from The Boy
When someone begins to treat their doll as a real person, the whole scenario can become somewhat scary. Well, that is the premise on which The Boy was based. The film follows Greta, an American who gets a job as a nanny in the United Kingdom.
Her new job includes watching over a doll known as Brahms. Greta does not know that Brahms is a stand-in for a young boy who died several years earlier. The new nanny is about to get the shock of her life and must find out whether Brahms is actually alive or not.
8. Babyface from Toy Story
The thought of a doll or toy standing up and doing things on its own is terrifying. Well, films and TV shows had somewhat managed to make this premise normal until Babyface showed up. Much of the running time in Toy Story is used to showcase Sid's love for torturing toys.
Viewers never really understand Sid's somewhat depraved decisions until Woody ends up in his room. Almost immediately, numerous mutant-like toys begin crawling off the shelves and start chasing Woody. Among these toys is Babyface, a spooky doll with spider-like legs on the lower body and a baby's head on the upper body with all the hair burnt off.
While Babyface seems to be on Woody's side, the very thought of its appearance is the stuff of nightmares.
7. Slappy from Goosebumps
Slappy is quite easily one of the most iconic freaky dolls in the Goosebumps films and books, and it is easy to see why. The character is hellbent on enslaving everyone who loves him. Anyone who decides to bring the spooky doll back to life instantly becomes its slave.
Unlike most evil dolls in this list that are inspired by children's stories, Slappy is inspired by an adult horror story in the film Magic. Still, the brain behind Goosebumps, R.L. Stine, adapts the character remarkably to make it more palatable for a young audience. That, however, does not make Slappy significantly less scary.
6. Fats from Magic
The idea of a doll having even the slightest talking abilities is a sufficient premise for a killer doll movie. Magic follows the story of Corky Withers, a down on his luck magician who has turned to ventriloquism as his new craft.
His puppet is known as Fats. Gradually, Fats becomes a separate entity and manages to convince Withers to start killing people. Unfortunately, the puppet also begins to control other aspects of Corky's life, his relationships included.
Magic ends tragically for both puppet and ventriloquist and with a spooky voice at the ends that suggest that the ensuing nightmare is far from over.
5. Blade from The Puppet Master
Anyone who watched The Puppet Master in the 1990s will remember Blade's scary design. The character's face resembled a demented version of another popular character, V from Vendetta. What makes Blade exceptionally spooky is having hooks for hands.
Like some scary dolls in this list, Blade has a captivating backstory. The life inside the puppet was originally a German soldier who eventually betrayed the Nazis. After his death, his soul was apparently trapped inside a puppet. Throughout The Puppet Master, numerous people use Blade for selfish purposes.
Eventually, the puppet exacts vengeance against his devious masters.
4. Zuni Doll from Trilogy of Terror
Trilogy of Terror is 1975 television film series that follows a woman who, unwittingly, buys a spear-wielding, sharp-toothed Zuni doll. She completely misses the printed warning cautioning the buyer that the doll contains the soul of a hunter known as 'the one who kills.'
A short while after the unfortunate purchaser, the war between the buyer and the doll inevitably begins.
3. Billy the Puppet from the Saw franchise
The creators of the Saw franchise named the dreaded puppet Billy even though he is barely referred by that name on the screen. The puppet was a 'gift' to John's unborn child, who tragically died when his wife had a miscarriage.
The doll signifies the life that John's unborn child never had and those that his victims are 'wasting.' Billy is popularly known as the messenger in the Saw franchise and adds to his frightening stance through his menacing smirk.
2. Chucky from Child's Play
Chucky is one of the killer dolls with a spooky origin story. The backstory involves a sociopathic killer who got executed and was then reincarnated as a demented doll. The spooky doll's favourite killing objects include hammers, knives, and other sharp objects.
Additionally, Chucky is quite fast, a fact that, combined with his tiny body, makes him quite adept at hiding from his pursuers.
1. Annabelle from The Conjuring and Annabelle
Who is the best killer doll? Well, the term 'best' might be contentious when it comes to killer dolls, but if there is one that undoubtedly takes the top spot, it has to be Annabelle. The character went from being one of the secondary figures in The Conjuring to being the headliner in Annabelle.
Not only is Annabelle's design scary, but her insistent desire to rain terror on her victims is quite simply unsettling. While most similar villains have particular motivations behind their acts, Annabelle just wants to kill everyone.
What makes this doll even scarier is the fact that it is based on a reportedly true story.
What is the scariest doll ever?
Annabelle is the scariest doll ever. In films, the doll is portrayed in the size of an actual girl, making her terrifying demeanour even more unsettling. The actual doll on which the character is based is housed in the now-closed Occult Museum in Connecticut.
According to popular reports, the actual doll was given to a student nurse in 1970, who then reported it as having strange behaviour. A psychic then told the doll's owner that the doll was possessed by the spirit of a girl known as Annabelle.
Who are the killer dolls?
They are fictional characters often based on puppets, dolls, and toys that come alive and engage in scary, often violent acts. Some reasons behind these dolls' behaviour include possession by dark magic, supernatural powers, ghosts, monsters, and demons. At times, they are the result of malfunctioning or malicious tech.
Killer dolls are undoubtedly fascinating villains in films and television shows. The fact that some of these spooky characters are allegedly based on true stories makes them even scarier. The likes of Annabelle and Billy have, unsurprisingly, given rise to commercially successful films.
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