The month of June will present audiences with not one, but two cinematic features in the form of killer-doll horror movies. First out of the gate would be the “Child’s Play” reboot (June 20), followed by the third “Annabelle” movie titled “Annabelle Comes Home” (June 27). As we wait for the release of these two upcoming horror movies, here are 10 Creepy Killer Doll Movies in alphabetical order for you to warm up, or continue to enjoy after the other movies.
1) Annabelle: Creation (2017)
The first “Conjuring” spinoff may give us the now-iconic titular porcelain doll in “Annabelle” (2014) but it was sadly plagued with predictable jump scares and underwritten characters. Then came the 2017 follow-up, a notable improvement over the first movie that served as a prequel about the origin of the possessed doll. David F. Sandberg of “Lights Out” and “Shazam!” fame did a good job staging some well-timed scares and suspense. Like James Wan in the first two “Conjuring” movies, he also made good use of lighting, sound, camera placements and even common household items like dumbwaiters and bunk beds to evoke genuine frights.
2) Child’s Play (1988)
This is the title that needs no introduction, with the foul-mouthed killer doll Chucky practically a pop-culture horror icon himself. Even the voice behind Chucky’s sinister dialogues and laughs are legendary, thanks to Brad Dourif’s pitch-perfect performance. The premise in “Child’s Play” is fairly straightforward, which involves a single mother (Catherine Hicks) who bought the hot-selling Good Guy doll for her son, Andy (Alex Vincent) on his birthday. But the doll turns out to be a killing machine possessed by the soul of a notorious serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif).
Part of what makes “Child’s Play” such an enduring horror classic is Tom Holland’s less-is-more directing approach similar to Steven Spielberg’s filmmaking style seen in “Jaws”. He also successfully made Chucky a scary doll using the combination of Dourif’s acting performance and Kevin Yagher’s impressive animatronic effects.
3) Child’s Play 2 (1990)
Although “Child’s Play 2” is no match to the superior 1988 original, the sequel manages to keep the pace brisk and entertaining enough over the course of its 84-minute running time. Once again, Brad Dourif remains a scene-stealer voicing the foul-mouthed Chucky and even gets to stretch more of his acting prowess. Kudos also go to director John Lafia, the original “Child’s Play” co-writer who took over from Tom Holland. He does a fine job orchestrating a satisfying mix of horror, thriller and dark comedy, with the climactic finale in the toy factory ranked among the most memorable set-pieces ever seen in the “Child’s Play” franchise.
4) Cult Of Chucky (2017)
In this seventh instalment of the “Child’s Play” franchise, the story follows Nica (Fiona Dourif, daughter of Brad Dourif) from “Curse Of Chucky” (2013) as she now resides in a mental institution, where the murderous Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) returns to settle some old scores. Writer-director Don Mancini successfully blended the psychological horror of the first two “Child’s Play” movies with the satirical dark comedies seen in “Bride Of Chucky” (1998) and “Seed Of Chucky” (2004). The result is both macabre and fun, with Mancini making good use of the limited budget to display some memorable kills as well as ample amounts of gore and graphic violence.
5) Dead Of Night (1945)
The UK-made “Dead Of Night” was considered a groundbreaking horror movie back in 1945. This is particularly evident during the fifth segment of this black-and-white British anthology horror film titled “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”, which involves a ventriloquist named Maxwell Frere (the great Michael Redgrave) who got too attached with his dummy Hugo. The story soon escalates into a series of classic horror tropes that tapped into schizophrenia, split personality and the fact whether Hugo the dummy is actually alive or just a fragment of Maxwell’s mental disorder. It has since become countless inspirations for many future filmmakers, notably Alfred Hitchcock in 1960’s “Psycho”.
6) Dead Silence (2007)
Of all James Wan’s horror movies, “Dead Silence” may be one of his least effort yet. The story, which involves Jamie Ashen (Ryan Kwanten) returning to his hometown to bury his wife and finds himself entangled in a mystery of a murdered ventriloquist, is pretty much an uneven effort. But James Wan’s terrific eyes for macabre visuals as well as the creepy appearance of Billy the dummy (voiced by Enn Reitel) helps elevate “Dead Silence” as a fairly engrossing piece of work.
7) Dolls (1987)
Stuart Gordon is no stranger to making B-grade horror films, as evidently seen in his two well-known efforts: “Re-Animator” (1985) and “From Beyond” (1986). Then, there’s “Dolls” — another cult classic that marries the “possessed doll” subgenre with dark fairy-tale elements. The setup is basically about a group of random strangers forced to seek refuge in a nearby mansion during a thunderstorm. From there, they discover that an elderly couple of the mansion (Guy Rolfe, Hilary Mason) are actually a wizard and witch who imprisoned their victims in puppet bodies. Although a low-budget horror film, Gordon manages to generate some effective moments involving the possessed little dolls. “Dolls” also benefits from a brisk pace running at only 77 minutes, coupled with Gordon’s signature blend of macabre sense of humour.
8) Magic (1978)
Long before Anthony Hopkins cemented his Hollywood stardom as Hannibal Lecter in the Oscar-winning “Silence Of The Lambs” (1991), he landed his first big break in “Magic”. The story behind Anthony Hopkins’ ventriloquist role and his dummy Fats is pretty much inspired from “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy” segment seen in “Dead Of Night” (1945). The result is fairly terrifying, thanks to Hopkins’ mentally-unhinged performance who also voiced Fats the dummy as well.
9) Pin (1988)
Largely forgotten upon its release back in 1988, this little-seen Canadian psychological horror film centres on a loner named Leon (David Hewlett) who believes that his doctor-father’s (Terry O’Quinn of “The Stepfather” and TV’s “Lost” fame) life-sized anatomy doll is actually a living person. Like “Dead Of Night” and “Magic”, “Pin” shares some of the similar thematic elements of schizophrenia and split-personality disorder with an additional mix of incestuous undertone. The movie is mostly psychological that doesn’t rely on violence and gore to prove its point — a result that might alienate most casual horror fans looking for a straightforward “killer doll” movie.
10) Puppet Master (1989)
For those who lived through the 80s and 90s, the “Puppet Master” franchise is perhaps among the most recognisable B-grade horror movies during the VHS era. The first “Puppet Master” is notable for introducing a group of murderous puppets with different personalities (e.g. Six-Shooter, Jester the Clown and Pinhead). The cult success of the first movie has gradually spawned a total of ten sequels with varying degree of success.