Dolls are the perfect children’s toys. The children become very attached to their dolls, develop their imagination through them, and spend long hours of fun. In our house, for example, there are at least five boxes full of dolls, while others are scattered in every good part of the house. But what happens when the seemingly innocent scary dolls come to life and turns out to be murderous, haunted, or just plain “weird” creature? The simple answer is that it can be the source of effective horror stories or even gruesome icons. Perhaps as a result of the contrast between the innocence attributed to the dolls and their horrific actions. Another explanation is that with a little imagination, you can create quite creepy horror dolls.
In the following review, we will present to you particularly scary dolls names that you’ll find in horror cinema, and sometimes also horror literature and television, over the years: from characters that have become iconic to some new characters, including a doll that only appeared in the cinematic world in 2023. And the best news is that you can find most of these scary dolls for sale (let’s hope they are not haunted or evil).
Who Are The Super Scary Dolls In The Horror Universe?
Chucky (“Child’s Play”, “Chucky”)
We start the review of scary dolls in movies with one that is probably considered the most famous in the world of horror: Chucky. The plot of the franchise, which so far includes eight films and a successful TV series that was recently decided on its third season, centers on a serial killer who transferred his malevolent soul, with the help of a talisman, to “Good Guy” type dolls. Chucky tries to transfer his soul to humans, and at one point in the movie series also wants to take over the world. Along the way, as we can expect in a slasher, he murders anyone who gets in his way in creative ways, while making sarcastic claims.
The character of Chucky, with the childish shirt and overall, the abundant red hair, and the sharp knife (although he does not bother with other means of killing), has become a real icon. Needless to say, there is a whole world of products around this super scary doll, including costumes, statues, lunch boxes, and of course the dolls themselves, in many sizes: from pop-up dolls to life-size dolls and replicas.
Of course, it is impossible not to mention “The Bride of Chucky”, the heroine of the fourth film in the series. Inside the innocent-looking – but slightly creepy – bride doll hides a girl named Tiffany, whom Chucky electrocuted to death after she humiliated him. The character of Tiffany is also considered particularly iconic and therefore deserves to star in any list of scary dolls. Moreover, Tiffany is responsible for one of the strangest scenes that horror cinema has known: a sex scene between two murderous dolls.
Annabelle ("The Conjuring", "Annabelle")
Annabelle is a relatively new addition to every famous scary dolls list, but there is no doubt that she is here to stay. Originally it was a Raggedy Ann doll, which was very popular during the 20th century. The most important thing is that Annabelle is a "real" haunted doll - at least if you go by the evidence of the couple Ed and Lorraine Warren or the scary horror stories that have been linked to her. In "The Conjuring" movies, plus three Spin-off films that put her at the center, Annabelle got a figure of a porcelain doll that is considered more threatening. The real Annabelle doll, by the way, is still in the private museum of the Warren couple.
Unlike Chucky and some other famous horror dolls, Annabelle does not move (at least on screen) or speak. All this, of course, will not prevent her from carrying out her plan. You can read more about the doll, its history, the myths built around it, and the related products in the comprehensive review we made about it.
Billy The Puppet ("Saw"... And "Dead Silence")
Who is the main villain of the "Saw" film series, which began with a short film in 2003, gave birth to a super successful film a year later, and has since continued to expand to a cinematic universe of nine films (the tenth is on the way)? True, the simple answer is serial killer John Kramer, better known as "Jigsaw". But the franchise also gave birth to a doll, named Billy (at least by the creators and in interviews, since the name "Billy" is not mentioned in the series specifically). Through Billy, Jigsaw communicates with the victims and presents his sick games, which usually end in their horrible death.
If you've been following the movie series, you know the story behind Billy: in short, he's a more evil version of a doll that Kramer created for his intended son. After his wife aborted the fetus, he channeled his rage into creating a "new" doll, which would be part of his attempt to get people to appreciate the life they had.
Billy is a Ventriloquism dummy, which, unlike other dolls of its kind, can move the whole thing and not just the lips. His main features are red eyes, prominent eyebrows, long black hair, spiral-drawn cheeks, and a "presentative" appearance that includes a black tuxedo, white shirt, gloves, bow tie with a red handkerchief, and the famous Billy The Puppet tricycle.
Here is an interesting overview showing the evolution of Billy The Puppet:
And by the way, Billy the puppet doll from "Saw" is not the only scary doll with the same name. According to many horror goers,"Dead Silence" from 2007, directed by James Vann, is one of the most successful of the 2000s. In "Dead Silence" we encounter a puppet named... Billy. We will not describe too many of the other creepy scary dolls appearing on the film, nor the very interesting twist, but it's a must-watch for horror fans. What's more, the sharp-eyed will be able to notice in one of the movie scenes a doll that looks exactly like Jigsaw's Billy.
Slappy The Dummy ("Goosebumps")
If you also grew up in the "Goosebumps" series of books by the American writer R.L. Stein, you must meet Slappy the Dummy. The character, which is somewhat based on Pinocchio or the murderous doll from the 1978 horror film "Magic" (voiced by Anthony Hopkins, by the way), is a talking wooden ventriloquist's dummy. His appearance - with the big eyes, black suit, and red bow tie - was probably in itself some inspiration for other nightmare dolls that appear in our review.
Slappy the Dummy first appeared in the book "Night of the Living Dummy" and a total of ten books, causing trouble in them suitable for children's horror literature. Later, This scary doll appeared as the main antagonist of two "Goosebumps" movies, in which it was voiced by Jack Black.
Brahms ("The Boy")
Brahms is the main antagonist of the successful 2016 horror film "The Boy" and an unnecessary and disappointing sequel from 2020 ("Brahams: The Boy 2"), with Katie Holmes. The plot of the first film, in short, is about an American nanny (Lauren Cohen, "The Walking Dead") who comes to London to take care of Brahms. She thinks Brahms is a child, but soon he turns out to be a creepy porcelain doll that her parents treat as their children.
Very quickly, the heroine discovers that there is something strange about Brahms, who, according to tradition, changes location when no one is around and causes strange things to happen, until the revelation at the end of the film that shows that this scary dolls is not really a supernatural or haunted item.
The Strangler Clown ("Poltergeist")
We've written quite a bit here on the site about horror cinema's appeal for murderous clowns, which we can see in the characters of Pennywise (the hero of the most successful horror movie of all time) or even in some potential icons in the making, such as Art the Clown. One of the memorable appearances of the creepy clown character is in "Poltergeist".
Indeed, he is not the main villain in the film - which included, among other things, an attack by a tree - but the scene in which he attacks one of the children is considered one of the rights in the history of horror cinema. It was restored in a very disappointing way in the remake of "Poltergeist" and received a lot of references and parodies, the most memorable of them all being in the "Scary Movie" parody.
Take a loot on the original choking clown scene:
Unfortunately, it's impossible to talk about the film without mentioning "The Poltergeist Curse", which resulted in some of the actors in the film series dying shortly afterward under gruesome circumstances. The clown scene is part of this myth. According to reports from the set, the clown mechanism malfunctioned during the scene so it literally choked the poor boy. The staff did not understand that the boy's screams indicated real distress and encouraged him to continue "acting", until Steven Spielberg himself decided to cut and, perhaps, save the young actor's life.
Megan is the newest entrant to our list of creepy scary dolls, fittingly the main antagonist of a film that was released only at the beginning of this year. Still, the incredible success of the "M3gan" - which grossed almost $100 million worldwide in the first two weeks after its release - shows that there could very well be a new iconic horror doll here. Pure evidence is the fact that a sequel, called "Megan 2.0", has already been announced, and is expected in 2025.
Megan doll is the product of an artificial intelligence developed by a robotics engineer named Jenna (Allison Williams, "Get Out", "Perfection"), which is out of control. In her performance, Megan is a well-groomed, gendered, and "barbie"-looking character (the truth is, she looks like the Olsen sisters in my opinion), but it quickly becomes clear that her jealousy towards a 9-year-old girl, Gemma's niece, makes her particularly murderous.