From Annabelle to Chucky: 8 Demon Dolls Featured in Horror Movies

10:15 AM 6/19/2019

by Jessica Ariel Wendroff

Billy and Slappy are also among the toys that have scared audiences over the years.

Chucky, Annabelle, Billy, and Slappy are just a few nightmare-inducing names of toys that have been featured in horror movies over the years, freaking viewers out with their creepy glass eyes, cold porcelain skin and slow, eerie movements. Most dolls are meant to bring about feelings of security and friendship, like Elmo and Lamb Chop, but that's simply not the case when the overhead theater lights dim for a pulse-quickening chiller. The plastic companions that come to life in horror movies can bend moviegoers’ sense of safety as easily as they do their plastic arms, sucking audiences into a whirlwind Toy Story from hell. Somehow the roles reverse, and the owner becomes the plaything.

Two such dolls return to the big screen in the next few weeks. First, Chucky comes to life in the reboot of 1988's Child's Play. In this take, the talking doll is defective and becomes violent due to a hacker who manipulates his code.

Then, Annabelle returns in Annabelle Comes Home. In this installment, the doll becomes the puppet master of all demonic items within the museum, using the vessels of evil spirits to orchestrate horror the same way that Slappy does in Goosebumps when he makes all of the nightmarish books in R.L. Stine's collection spring to life.  

Below, The Hollywood Reporter takes a closer look at the doll faces that may have made some viewers a little more afraid of their toys.

  • Annabelle in the 'Annabelle' movies

    'Annabelle' (2014); 'Annabelle: Creation' (2017); 'Annabelle Comes Home' (2019)

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

    Annabelle's mug is one only a craftsman like Geppetto could love, or, in this case, a very innocent little girl. Annabelle's size is frightening in and of itself; the demonic vessel is almost as big as a real little girl. What’s worse than the 2014 film’s portrayal of the play thing is the inspiration behind it. Annabelle is actually based on a true story, except the real doll isn’t porcelain as in the movie; it’s your classic Raggedy Anne and remains in a locked box within Lorraine Warren’s Occult Museum in Monroe, Conn. The box has a large sign on it that reads: “WARNING: POSITIVELY DO NOT OPEN.” A museum attendee who decided to disregard the sign, and provoke the doll, reportedly suffered a fatal motorcycle accident after initially being kicked out by Ed Warren.

    That isn’t the first time the haunted artifact has caused vehicle issues, however; the Warrens’ website describes how the doll has allegedly tampered with the Warrens’ and a priest’s car as well, causing cars to swerve and brakes to fail. On the website, Ed Warren warns us all “not [to] challenge evil, [and that] no man is more powerful than Satan.” A quote to remember as we gear up for Annabelle Comes Home this June 26.

  • Chucky in the 'Child's Play' movies

    'Child's Play' (1988); 'Child's Play 2' (1990); 'Child's Play 3' (1991); 'Bride of Chucky' (1998); 'Seed of Chucky' (2004); 'Curse of Chucky' (2013); 'Child's Play' (2019)

    Universal Pictures/Photofest

    This redheaded Chucky doll is definitely not as cute and cuddly as Nickelodeon’s lovable Rugrat of the same name. When an evil spirit is cast into the Chucky doll via voodoo, it’s probably no surprise that this proclaimed “Good Guy” doll acts very, very bad when he comes to life. In Child’s Play, the pint-size fireball loves to play, but not with children — at least not in a nice way. Chucky’s favorite toys are sharp, deadly objects like knives and hammers, which he uses to take out his victims. Despite Chucky’s stubby doll legs, the rubber psychopath is speedy, and his tiny bod makes him good at hiding.

    What most people don’t know is that Chucky’s muse was claimed to be “the most haunted doll in the world,” known as “Robert the Doll.” According to The Sun, Robert Eugene Otto, or “Gene,” received the Robert doll from his Bahamian maid in 1904. The maid was believed to have partaken in voodoo and black magic, and shortly after owning the doll, Gene started talking to it, and told his parents that the doll destroyed his toys and knocked things over in the house. Even neighbors reported seeing the doll move from room to room while the family was out and about. The believed-to-be cursed Robert doll is now locked away in the East Martello Museum in Key West, Fla. It is said that to this day, electronics malfunction in the doll’s presence, and that if you want a picture of him, you have to ask Robert permission. If not...well, you can ask the people who send in letters to the doll asking for forgiveness what happens. The lure of the doll's tales of terror is still strong to this day as the Child's Play remake is set to hit theaters June 21, 2019.

  • The Clown in 'The Poltergeist'

    1982

    MGM/UA Entertainment Company/Photofest

    The jester in The Poltergeist (1982) did not clown around when it came to terrorizing young Robbie Freeling (Oliver Robbins). The happy-go-lucky face of the clown turned straight sinister once the sun set. The scene with the doll became so notorious that it was parodied two decades later in 2001’s Scary Movie 2. It appears a lot of pop culture has been used in and taken from this scene. The clown in this horror flick wears a sorcerer’s hat like the one trusty old Mickey Mouse wore in 1940’s Fantasia, possibly there to instill a sense of comfort and trust in Robbie and viewers, only to have such warms feelings immediately stripped away when the doll pulls Robbie under his bed. More so, the red clown marks the toy bears on his cheeks resemble the bull's-eyes we come across in 2004 with Saw’s Billy puppet. Needless to say, no matter what is referenced from this scene and when, the lesson of the movie is: If you want to keep your kids, keep them away from clown dolls.

  • Talky Tina in 'The Twilight Zone'

    1963

    Photo Still from The Twilight Zone-Courtesy of CBS Broadcasting Inc.

    “My name is Talky Tina, and I'm going to kill you” are words that shook audiences during a '60s episode of The Twilight Zone titled "Living Doll." In the episode, a little girl named Christi receives a doll from her mother (whose name is, incidentally, Annabelle), but the doll doesn’t quite take a shine to the girl’s stepfather. Sensing dislike from him, the wind-up doll departs from her usual program of sayings and starts to come up with her own threatening phrases. Spoiler alert: Threats later turn into actions, and at the end of the installment, the little girl's assertion is validated — yes, Christi, Tina [really] does [do] everything,” like the show says, including murder.

  • Brahms in 'The Boy'

    2016

    STX Entertainment/Photofest

    The Boy is a far too easily spoiled film, so let’s just say that there are scarier things to be afraid of than toys here. However, the doll, Brahms, does do an excellent job of tripping out audiences — and his caretaker, Greta, who is hired to follow a strict code of conduct when caring for the well-dressed piece of plastic.

  • Billy in 'Dead Silence'

    2007

    Universal Studios/Photofest

    Billy in Dead Silence (2007) is more of a puppet than a real doll, but the main chilling qualities of the two are nearly identical. What’s more, Billy’s red, oversize, Pee-Wee Herman-like bow tie adds an element of eerie that is only further amplified by his menacing smirk and glossy widow’s peak.

  • Billy in 'Saw'

    2004

    Lions Gate/Photofest

    It appears as though Dead Silence’s Billy had a fraternal twin with an identical name when Billy in Saw was born. Yet another vile puppet took to the cinemas with a red bowtie and snazzy suit in 2014, but this time he wheeled his way to the depths of our fears using a tricycle and maniacal cackle. With firetruck-red lips, eyes and bulls-eyes on his cheeks, Billy serves as a “cute” little reminder that blood will be spilled in this gory franchise — buckets and buckets full. His pasty clown face works to conjure memories of killer characters like the Joker and Harley Quinn, while his tuxedo hints that he’s always ready for a victim’s funeral. The puppet is John Kramer’s messenger, and tends to show up to the scene with a small audiotape of instructions that lets victims know what they have to do in order to make it out of Jigsaw’s games alive. John Kramer, aka Jigsaw, also makes use of Billy by practicing ventriloquism with him in video instructions.

  • Slappy in 'Goosebumps' (TV Series)

    1996

    Fox Broadcasting/Photofest

    Who could forget a face like Slappy’s? Kids of the '90s sure can’t. The 2015 and 2018 Goosebumps remakes lack the eery factor that the original show’s version of the beady-eyed dummy played with. As seen in other films mentioned above, viewers once again come face to face with a puppet donning a sizable red bowtie and a suit. Sensing a pattern here? Perhaps the directors of Saw and Dead Silence were both fans of R.L. Stine.