As Annabelle returns to cinemas in Annabelle Comes Home, there’s no better time than today to watch more movies with creepy dolls. The pint-sized plastic representations of human beings have always been a popular staple in horror movies, and the trend continues even up until today. If Annabelle’s continued popularity is any indication, Hollywood will be churning out more creepy doll movies in the years to come.
The reason for the dolls’ continued impact on the genre stems from a variety of reasons that range from their uncannily (in)human looks to the supernaturally tinged backstories that they bear. Here are the 10 best creep doll movies to watch before or after the latest entry into the Conjuring Universe.
10 The Demonic Toys Movies
Full Moon Features struck gold with their flagship franchise Puppet Master, so they tried to repeat the magic with Demonic Toys – pretty much the same idea, only with less Nazis and more demonic possessions.
Like many direct-to-video horror movies, this series is forgettable but enjoyably campy and schlocky. The titular monsters’ looks also helped. Demonic Toys even had a non-canon crossover with Puppet Master and the other Full Moon series Dollman, but the short-lived series didn’t prove to be as successful as the Nazi-killing puppets (more on them later).
9 Love Object (2004)
More often than not, creepy doll movies are period pieces of a time before the digital age, but this isn’t the case in Love Object. Not only does its main character Kenneth (Desmond Harrington) order the doll online, but what ends up haunting the movie is a sex doll named Nikki.
What ensues is a perverse and deranged love triangle, where Kenneth is forced to choose between his co-worker and a domineering sex doll (that may or may not be sentient). Though the movie’s execution may feel generic when putting beside other psychological thrillers, the concept alone makes Love Object worth watching.
8 Trilogy of Terror (1975)
As its title implies, Trilogy of Terror is a collection of three short horror stories but it’s most remembered for its closing chapter Amelia. Here, the titular character fights for her life when a Zuni fetish doll that she bought comes to murderous life.
Because of its simplicity and ferocity, the doll was incredibly popular and had merchandise of it quickly manufactured and sold. Many think that the Zuni doll could’ve rivaled Chucky in terms of infamy if only Trilogy of Terror made it to cinemas instead of being limited to the small screen.
7 Tales From The Hood (1995)
Like the previous anthology, Tales From The Hood is best remembered for its creepy dolls that now come with a sense of historical relevance and catharsis. In the segment KKK Comeuppance, a racist senator comes face-to-face with his slave-owning ancestors’ sins when dolls possessed by dead slaves attack him.
The short is campy and never takes itself too seriously, even with its heavy themes and subtext. But since the anthology itself tackles such issues as crime, domestic violence and racism, KKK Comeuppance’s central idea shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
6 Dolls (1987)
The movie that started the creepy doll craze of the late ‘80s may have been buried by movies that improved the initial concept, but it still deserves a watch. Dolls is appropriately cheesy, reveling in the morbid fun that could be had from the idea of killer dolls.
What makes Dolls memorable is the explanation behind what the dolls really are and how they came to be in the first place. It would be a disservice to reveal anything else but it’s safe to say that the dolls’ origins are something ripped right out of a nightmarish fairy tale.
5 The Puppet Master Movies
Creepy doll movies tend to be underground hits and this is best proven by the existence and continued popularity of the Puppet Master movies. The direct-to-video series is a long-time favorite among cult movie aficionados, spawning 11 movies and a reboot that was released just last year.
The movies themselves are bog-standard when compared to other horror movies of the time, but the charmingly campy concept, the puppets’ memorable designs, and the fact that the puppets murder Nazis (and Nazi puppets) are what make the Puppet Master franchise so memorable.
4 Magic (1978)
Ventriloquist dummies are some of the most unnerving dolls in around and Magic takes full advantage of this to deliver this overlooked psychological-horror movie. Starring Anthony Hopkins as Corky the ventriloquist and his puppet Fats, Magic shows how terrifying it would be to have a puppet control the puppeteer.
What makes the movie more disturbing is how vague Fats’ true nature is. It’s never made clear if Fats is Corky’s split personality or if the dummy developed a mind of its own. Whatever the case, Magic is an unjustly forgotten creepy doll movie that definitely should be seen.
3 Annabelle: Creation and Annabelle Comes Home
Despite a forgettable opening entry, the Annabelle movies quickly entrenched themselves in the public consciousness. This was done with the help of the good faith spawned by its mothership franchise The Conjuring and the fact that the second and third Annabelle movies are creepy fun.
The Annabelle movies also posit one of the more unique takes on a creepy doll, where it acts more as a beacon for evil spirits instead of being a possessed object. The movies don’t really break new ground, but they perfectly recreate the simple pleasures of a ghost train ride.
2 The Saw Movies
No other creepy doll has risen to prominence in the 2000s faster than Billy the Puppet, the avatar of the Jigsaw Killer from the Saw movies. John Kramer may be the man responsible for creating the series’ signature death traps, but his puppet Billy is the face of the entire franchise.
The doll itself doesn’t do anything outside of ride a child-sized tricycle and explain the traps to the victim through pre-recorded messages, but it’s an iconic representation of one of the most influential horror movie villains of the New Millennium.
1 The Child’s Play Movies
When it comes to legitimizing cinematic creepy dolls, nothing beats the movies responsible for introducing Chucky to the world: Child’s Play. Making the simple-but-effective premise of a murderous doll better was Brad Dourif’s iconic voice acting, which made the killer doll legendary.
By keeping the same creative team over almost 30-years, Child’s Play maintained its playful sense of horror while exploring different storytelling styles that range from self-aware to serious. The reboot is fine on its own but it can’t beat the original movies that, for the longest time, were synonymous to creepy dolls.