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Thread: The Creepy Doll Subgenre

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Spy_on_the_Inside's Avatar
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    The Creepy Doll Subgenre

    I've always been very interested in the creepy doll subgenre of horror. I must have seen just about every movie on the subject. But I have seen very few short stories on the topic. I was wondering if anyone knew of any good stories they could recommend on this particular subset of horror.

    Also, what do you think makes for a good story about a creepy doll, and what do you personally think ruins a story?
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    AW's resident Velociraptor ShaunHorton's Avatar
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    I dunno, to be honest. Child's Play was one of the first real slasher-horror movies I ever saw. I always laughed at it. Sure he could sneak around, but why be scared of something you could literally kick across the room?

    Stephen King actually wrote a haunted doll story for an episode of The X-Files, I think.

    I think, while haunted doll stories can be creepy, it can be hard to create a real sense of tension. The doll has to somehow be able to actually do damage, without being over-the-top. I remember one movie scene that I saw, but I have no idea what movie it was, some ventriliquist dummy with telekinetic powers. Made some girl watch as he trapped the girl's mother in the kitchen while flinging knives every which way. I was like 5 years old, so it scared me, but it was pretty over-the-top looking back.
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    I agree about the line being delicate between non-threatening, creepy and totally over the top. The first half of the first Child's Play was great because you were getting an unsettling feeling that Chucky was alive, but you didn't actually see him move or make facial expressions. He was still a doll, and that was freaky. But when he became all-the-way-alive Chucky, a lot of the tension was lost for me. So I'd say the doll being actually alive ruins it for me.

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    practical experience, FTW Josie Cloos's Avatar
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    Those kinds of movies have been known to freak me right the fuck out. The first one I remember was a Creature Feature thing. It was a tiki statue that came to life and tortured the poor woman with his little spear.

    andiwrite, maybe it was a movie called Magic that you're thinking of. I don't remember exact details, just that it was about a dummy that came to life. The commercial for the movie was the dummy saying something like, I sit on his knee and suddenly I'm him and he's me. Creepy as hell. ugh.

    Child's Play, it's been so long and it did get more comical than anything else, but knowing me, the first one probably scared the hell out of me.

    There was another one where it was a room full of dolls that came to life. I'm pretty sure they were creepy and murderous.

    I don't think I've ever read a story about creepy killer dolls. Oh, wow, that's weird now that I think of it.
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    The force is strong in this one. williemeikle's Avatar
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    Adam Nevill's HOUSE OF SMALL SHADOWS. Trust me, it's brilliant, and terrifying.

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    Twilight Zone's Talking Tina.

    and yeah... not including the first two and the most recent Chucky movie....they've been more hilarious than scary. I remember being a kid and becoming weary of our My Buddy doll... like "i'm on to you MISTER!" LOL

    The Annabelle doll movie is pretty scary....

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    Magic (with Anthony Hopkins) features an evil ventriloquist dummy, but it's uncertain whether the doll is evil or it's all in his head. I like that take on it; is the object evil, or is the protagonist's mind projecting onto the object?

  8. #8
    storm central stormie's Avatar
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    I second Twilight Zone's Talking Tina episode. The doll didn't quite come alive, like with Chucky, and that made it all the more creepier.
    It's creepy when the doll is where is wasn't previously or the person perceives it talking to him or her. Or the eyes move on their own.
    It's the psychological aspect mostly. (Unlike my avi.)

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    The force is strong in this one. williemeikle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anakhouri79 View Post
    Magic (with Anthony Hopkins) features an evil ventriloquist dummy, but it's uncertain whether the doll is evil or it's all in his head. I like that take on it; is the object evil, or is the protagonist's mind projecting onto the object?
    The William Goldman novel the movie was based on is brilliant.

  10. #10
    The force is strong in this one. williemeikle's Avatar
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    And of course there's Michael Redgrave and the ventriloquist's dummy segment in the great British '40s anthology movie DEAD OF NIGHT. Creepiest thing you ever did see...

  11. #11
    I come in peace Earthling's Avatar
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    I have this creepy doll anthology on audiobook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Dol...4018807&sr=8-1

    I haven't finished it yet (got sidetracked with another audiobook) but I liked the ones I listened to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Earthling View Post
    I have this creepy doll anthology on audiobook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Dol...4018807&sr=8-1

    I haven't finished it yet (got sidetracked with another audiobook) but I liked the ones I listened to.

    Have you seen The Boy? A movie not a book, but I quite liked it.

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  13. #13
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andiwrite View Post
    I agree about the line being delicate between non-threatening, creepy and totally over the top. The first half of the first Child's Play was great because you were getting an unsettling feeling that Chucky was alive, but you didn't actually see him move or make facial expressions. He was still a doll, and that was freaky. But when he became all-the-way-alive Chucky, a lot of the tension was lost for me. So I'd say the doll being actually alive ruins it for me.
    Ah, so Chucky was like the Elf on the Shelf? The Elf on the Shelf concept creeps me out for the same reason, so maybe someone could do something with that. Creepy Christmas spy doll wreaks havoc, but no one ever sees it move.
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    Human Person charliewwriter's Avatar
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    Heres a couple:

    The Doll Anthology edited by Ellen Datlow
    https://www.amazon.com/Doll-Collecti...dp/B00MSYSSOG/

    The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett
    https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Ventri...dp/B01N0YB19V/

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    I'm not sure if you've heard of Five Nights at Freddy's before, but it's a video game (they turned it into a book but I haven't read it yet) and it features robotic animatronics that come alive at night. I know these aren't "true" dolls, but the human size of the animatronics made the whole concept scarier, plus the fact that they actually are supposed to move around made for a lot of blurred lines. Additionally, in the game, you rarely see them move, they just sort of... appear. Mysterious.

    If you decide to delve into the doll concept with your stories, you might want to take it further by playing not only with dolls but exploring the scare levels that animatronics, dummies, and other "branches" of the doll "species" can bring. (I hope that makes sense.)
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