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A scarred doll sits atop a handcuffed man in this image from Universal Pictures.
Chucky made the evil doll genre what it is today. (Image: Universal Pictures)

Why are dolls so creepy? It’s largely because of how human most of them appear even though they’re not, giving many of them a lingering sense of appearing off somehow. Filmmakers have latched onto this idea and made evil dolls a horror staple. Seeing these plastic, seemingly harmless miniature versions of ourselves cause destruction is a thrilling fright — one I’m very familiar with as a horror aficionado. In celebration (yes, we’re celebrating!) of these diminutive dangers, let’s count down some of the most evil, unpleasant dolls you can find on the silver screen.

10. M3GAN — ‘M3GAN’ (2023)

A doll stands in a doorway wearing sunglasses in this image from Universal Pictures.
M3GAN is way cooler than me, and I’ve accepted this. (Image: Universal Pictures)

M3GAN is the moment. I mentioned this in my creepy children article, but she’s everything. An advanced AI gone haywire in a doll, she knows all about childcare, pop songs, and murder. And frankly, did she really do anything wrong?

Okay, yes, M3GAN killed a few people, but they were all being mean to Cady (Violet McGraw)! She’s a little sassy to Gemma (Allison Williams). I suppose tries to murder her too, but Gemma also matches that energy and is dismissive of M3GAN after a while. This is a “justice for M3GAN” household.

“M3GAN” is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

9. Tiffany — Child’s Play Franchise

A female doll with black lipstick sits in a car in this image from David Kirschner Productions.
Who says a femme fatale can’t be a doll? (Image: David Kirschner Productions)

The Bride of Frankenstein is one of the most iconic movie monsters, so it makes sense to introduce other brides into horror franchises. Enter 1998’s “Bride of Chucky,” the fourth entry in the Child’s Play franchise. It turns out Chucky had a love interest named Tiffany in his mortal life. As it so happens, she gets turned into a doll too.

What makes Tiffany shine is the performance by camp icon Jennifer Tilly, who gives Tiffany a ton of personality. She’s wickedly fun, unpredictable, and can deliver one-liners with the best of them. Tiffany’s appearance breathed new life into the Child’s Play franchise, helping it endure well into the 21st century.

“Bride of Chucky” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video.

8. Brahms — ‘The Boy’ (2016)

A woman reaches out to touch a porcelain doll in this image from Lakeshore Entertainment.
PSA: Do not touch any unknown creepy doll for your own safety. (Image: Lakeshore Entertainment)

I’ve always thought “The Boy” is an underrated gem from the mid-2010s horror scene. It’s big on the jump scares, but sometimes that’s all you need for a good creepy flick. It also stars one of the creepiest dolls on this list: Brahms.

When Greta (Lauren Cohan) takes a nanny job for a wealthy family, she discovers the “child” she’s looking after is actually Brahms, a porcelain doll. It turns out the human Brahms died in a fire years ago, and the family keeps the doll in his place. Needless to say, Brahms turns out to not just be an average doll, and his uncanny appearance and supernatural antics are enough to give me the willies.

“The Boy” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video.

7. Billy — ‘Dead Silence’ (2007)

An old woman holds a ventriloquist doll in this image from Twisted Pictures.
You can tell just by looking at him that something isn’t right with Billy. (Image: Twisted Pictures)

Honestly, the title of this entry could be “Literally Everything in the Movie ‘Dead Silence.’” I saw this movie when it came out and I was only 13, and it was a poor decision on everyone’s part who let that happen.

Following a family cursed by a ventriloquist for generally being jerks, “Dead Silence” is full of terrifying dolls. The worst is Billy, who may not be the central focus of the film but resides furthest in the uncanny valley that makes these dolls so creepy. Billy just looks wrong, and he was a major player in my nightmares for many years.

“Dead Silence” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video.

6. The Clown Doll — ‘Poltergeist’ (1982)

A clown doll sits in a chair in this image from metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Even if it didn’t come to life, this thing would still be the worst. (Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

There are some horror classics that don’t get me anymore. That’s nothing against the masterful craft that went into them; I’ve just seen them enough that they don’t affect me. There are exceptions though, and “Poltergeist” is one of them.

The main reason why “Poltergeist” still spooks me is that dang clown doll. It’s another instance where he may not have a ton of screen time, but the scene he does have is memorable. That doll is creepy even before it's possessed, and the subversion of the expected jump scare makes the inevitable reveal even more startling.

“Poltergeist” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video

5. Billy — Saw Franchise 

A doll in a tuxedo rides a tricycle in this image from Twisted Pictures.
I don’t want to play a game with this guy, thanks. (Image: Twisted Pictures)

I guess horror crews like to name their disturbing puppets Billy! While the instantly recognizable creation of John Kramer (Tobin Bell) — the Jigsaw Killer — is never named on-screen in the Saw franchise, he’s referred to as Billy behind the scenes and by fans.

Since his first appearance in the original “Saw” in 2004 (20 years ago!), Billy has become one of the faces of modern horror. His trademark tuxedo, spiral makeup, and tricycle lend an unsettling aura to the grisly traps Kramer’s victims find themselves in. Just because he’s not supernatural doesn’t make him any less jarring.

The original “Saw” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video.

4. Commando Elite — ‘Small Soldiers’ (1998)

Military-style action figures huddle together in this image from DreamWorks Pictures.
The Commando Elite action figures are destructive far beyond what their size suggests. (Image: DreamWorks Pictures)

“Small Soldiers” isn’t a traditional horror movie, veering more into the action genre more than anything. That doesn’t make the living action figures of the Commando Elite any less creepy. Designed to be an action figure that can do more, the chips inside the military-based toys wind up allowing them to deal a lot more damage than anticipated.

I’ve always found “Small Soldiers” an underrated movie. With an outstanding cast, including Kirsten Dunst, Tommy Lee Jones, and Ernest Borgnine, this film has a lot of fun action. The evil action figures are also genuinely disturbing, especially once they get their hands on some real firepower.

“Small Soldiers” is streaming now on Max.

3. Slappy — ‘Goosebumps’ (2015)

A ventriloquist dummy sits behind the wheel of a car in this image from Columbia Pictures.
Slappy is the king of horror for a host of schoolchildren across the world. (Image: Columbia Pictures)

For a generation of young readers, R.L. Stine is a horror legend. His “Goosebumps” series introduced me and many others to the horror genre, and none of his creations stand out more than Slappy, an evil ventriloquist dummy (there are a lot of those on this list, but that’s because they’re inherently creepy).

In the 2015 movie adaptation of the franchise, Slappy (voiced by Jack Black) is, of course, the leader of the monsters trying to escape Stine’s (also played by Black) fictional world. Even as an adult, seeing Slappy on the screen gave me some flashbacks to those early days of reading.

“Goosebumps” is streaming now on Hulu

2. Annabelle — The Conjuring Universe

A creepy doll in a dress sits in the closet in this image from Warner Bros. Pictures.
Doesn’t Annabelle just look harmless and innocent? (Image: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Where to even begin with Annabelle? A central figure in The Conjuring film series since the very first film in 2013, Annabelle is arguably the overarching antagonist of the series. A constant adversary of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, Annabelle is creepy as can be.

While the real-life Annabelle is reportedly a Raggedy Ann doll, the design in the movies is much more outwardly sinister. She’s also seen to be quite intelligent, releasing other entities and coordinating years-long plans throughout her appearances. Annabelle may just be the most menacing entity on this list.

“Annabelle” is streaming now on Netflix.

1. Chucky — Child’s Play Franchise

A boy lays in bed next to a doll in this image from United Artists.
Those are the eyes of a killer. (Image: United Artists)

When evil dolls come up, everyone’s first thought goes to Chucky. He’s the blueprint, the pinnacle, the champion of the category. First appearing in 1988’s “Child Play,” Chucky (Brad Dourif) is Charles Lee Ray, a serial killer who uses his dying breath to transfer his soul into the iconic red-haired doll horror fans know and love.

Chucky makes the most of his new life, going on multiple killing sprees across the franchise and always sure to spout a crude joke or grumpy complaint about his physical state. As unpleasant to be around as he is evil, Chucky is the king of all evil dolls.

“Child’s Play” is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video with an MGM+ subscription.

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