Despite being primarily used as children’s toys, there is something inherently creepy about dolls; especially the larger ones that are almost the size of children. It taps into some primal survival instinct in our brain when we see something that has a humanoid shape or figure, but that we know isn’t human.
So it’s no surprise that the horror genre has capitalized on this with countless creepy and killer dolls, puppets, toys, etc. So with 2023’s surprise smash hit M3GAN, we wanted to do a top 10 creepy doll list to induct her in the hall of fame and see where she stands!
Note: This is a companion piece to our Top 10 Killer AIs which you can check out here!
There were honestly too many to fit into just a top 10, so we wanted to give shout outs to two iconic dolls that didn’t quite make the cut: Billy the Puppet from the Saw series (who is often delivering instructions on Jigsaw’s creative death traps) and Fats the ventriloquist dummy from Magic. Both of these are but vessels for their deranged creators, but they never cease to be creepy in everything they do.
10. Zuni Fetish Doll (Trilogy of Terror)
One of the lesser known entries on this list, Trilogy of Terror is the epitome of low budget independent, and this creepy doll remains the standout of the entire film series. The doll itself is incredibly potent and dangerous for its size, and the ending of the story shows how the evil within isn’t just contained to the doll itself.
9. Otto (The Great Gabbo)
Definitely the earliest entry on this list, Otto is (one of) the only dolls on the list that is not “alive” or “possessed” in any way, shape, or form. So the horror comes from how his human (Gabbo) treats him and becomes unhinged by him.
Maybe it’s because everything was scarier in the past, but damn is Otto creepy looking, and even though we know there’s nothing supernatural going on, it’s easy to think there might be, just beneath the surface.
8. Talky Tina (The Twilight Zone S5E6 “Living Doll”)
Of course, The Twilight Zone had to be represented on this list! In a lot of ways Talky Tina feels like a precursor to M3GAN in that she seems to be trying to defend the little girl who owns her, and her hostility is directed at one person.
What’s creepy is that we never see Tina move, only speak and because of this she’s very good at gaslighting you (since she talks anyway). Even that ending, we never actually see her move to commit the murder she does, she’s just in the right place at the right time.
7. Slappy (Goosebumps franchise)
Sure Goosebumps is aimed at kids, but that doesn’t make Slappy any less creepy or worthy of being on this list. Given his family friendly nature, he’s more a mean-spirited prankster that a straight up murderer, but between his latin incantation to bring him to life and his portrayal (especially in the 90s TV show), he’s a genuinely scary presence and there’s a reason he’s the most famous component of Goosebumps.
6. Blade (Puppet Master franchise)
Out of all the dolls here, Blade is the only one that is literally possessed by the soul of a Nazi scientist. So he’s probably the most evil one on here, and he’s also one of the funniest to watch with how he scurries about despite being so small. He’s the proof that size doesn’t matter, and is the head of a massive franchise that spans way more movies than most people even know exist.
5. Brahms (The Boy)
Brahms’ porcelain appearance adds him some creepy points, and much like Otto, he’s another that isn’t inherently supernatural (at least not in the first movie). Ultimately, he’s more so a vessel for a deranged living person, but because of that, Brahms (the doll) ends up serving as a visual representation of someone’s inner child, from a time that was far more innocent. Its perfections are a reminder of just how dark life got.
4. Billy (Dead Silence)
James Wan really loves his creepy dolls! Movies that he either directed or produced are represented on this list three times, but Billy from Dead Silence is probably his most underrated. Billy is the vessel for his terrifying ventriloquist mother Mary Shaw. He’s also one of the most human looking of any dolls on this list and thus, it makes him all the more unsettling, especially if you scream!
3. M3GAN (M3GAN)
Breaking January box office records, M3GAN has been a smash hit that seemingly came out of nowhere. Although she definitely has more in common with killer AIs (like Skynet or HAL 9000), she’s a humanoid-looking “doll” whose incredibly smooth movements and stiff face ooze of uncanny valley.
Only here it’s very much intentional and the point. M3GAN is sassy, opinionated, and unintentionally hilarious at times. Her programming certainly came with a very strong personality, and she’s one of the most fun characters to watch on this list.
2. Chucky (Child’s Play franchise)
He may be the original killer or creepy doll, but Chucky is without a doubt the most famous and iconic. Possessed by the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (aka “The Lakeshore Strangler”), Chucky has enough personality and wit to last him 7 feature films, 2 seasons of a TV show, as well as countless merchandising (and that 2019 remake we don’t talk about).
Sure Chucky has a twisted sense of humor and takes such joy and pleasure out of killing people, but what really makes him stand out is how much he’s grown and evolved as a character over the last three decades. He’s gone from wanting to get out of the doll body at all costs, to accepting that this is who he is, to using new spells to “clone” himself into an army.
1. Annabelle (Conjuring Universe)
Perhaps it’s sacrilege to put Annabelle over Chucky, given his iconic status in the horror genre, but there’s just something about Annabelle that hits differently. Part of it is that she’s based on a real life doll and “true” stories. Part of it is that we never actually see her movie (save for a head turn), and she’s the epitome of what it means to be a creepy doll.
That blank stare, the supernatural occurrences around her, and the complete lack of speaking and lack of full explanation of what is behind it. And aside from the first Annabelle movie being just okay, pretty much every movie she’s been in has been pretty solid and she’s very much the face of a horror franchise that seemingly came out of nowhere!
Who are your favorite creepy dolls from horror movies/TV shows? Let us know in the comments!
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