Let’s face it, dolls are creepy. Horror fiction has always acknowledged this fact, and some of the earliest films in this genre have prominently featured the doll as an object of terror. One can relate this genre’s fascination with dolls to the psychological theory of the Uncanny as expressed by Ernst Jentsch in his 1906 essay, On the Psychology of the Uncanny:
Jentsch defines the Uncanny as: “doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive; or conversely, whether a lifeless object might be, in fact, animate”
Sigmund Freud later expanded on Jentsch’s concept in his 1919 essay “The Uncanny”, but this posting isn’t about psychoanalytic theory. It’s about some of my favourite horror films that feature dolls.
Of course, the Child’s Play series of films from the 1980’s immediately spring to mind, with their signature black humour, bad puns and sadistic doll-villain Chucky. To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of that particular horror franchise.
I do, however, fondly recall a 1975 made-for-TV horror anthology Trilogy of Terror. The third story of this anthology, entitled “Amelia,” stars Karen Black — that darling of 1970s horror flicks — and involves a demonic Zuni fetish doll. And it’s one seriously pissed-off doll, too. Watch the clip below, because it’s likely to be the funniest thing you’ll see all year.
The next clip I want to include is a bit of a cheat. I’ve never actually seen this film, though I’ve viewed this trailer a number of times — and the trailer majorly creeps me out. Will definitely have the track down 1978’s Magic, a “terrifying love story” that starred Anthony Hopkins and Ann Margaret. Hopkins really must’ve been hitting the bottle hard when he took this role.
And lastly, an obscure little gem from Mexico called The Curse of the Doll People (1960). Midgets can be scary, too.