The horror genre is a melting pot of traditional tropes that fans are enamored with, and there’s no denying that the trope of scary dolls in movies is one of the most popular. From their frightening appearance, plastic expressions and sinister intentions, it’s no wonder that audiences remain terrified of these dolls as the trend of these inanimate objects as the vocal point in horror movies continues to rise.
This hauntingly-good horror trope has been rampant in the genre for decades, and while some scary doll movies can appear out-of-touch and laughable, others are enough to keep audience members afraid of keeping dolls in their own house. Whether these dolls are controlled by an unseen supernatural force, riddled with black magic, or just plain evil, the movies that feature these humanlike beings are what nightmares are made of. Here is our definitive list of the 10 best scary doll movies.
10. Dolly Dearest (1991)
Kicking off the list is a movie that is commonly referred to as the inspiration for John R. Leonetti’s Annabelle. In the film, Denise Crosby shines as Marilyn Wade, the mother and wife of a man who has recently purchased a toy doll factory in Mexico. While inspecting the factory, Marilyn’s daughter Jessica discovers Dolly, a porcelain doll that she decides to keep. Eventually, Jessica becomes possessed by Sanzia, a malevolent spirit that has inhabited the doll. While the film failed to receive positive reviews, Crosby’s standout performance and the genuine creepiness of Dolly makes it worth a watch.
9. Demonic Toys (1992)
Demonic Toys is a direct-to-video tale about a group of possessed killer dolls that embark on a vicious rampage. From Baby Oopsy Daisy and Grizzly Teddy to Jack Attack and Mr. Static, the variety of killer dolls are enough to make this campy adventure appear more entertaining than its face value. Between the dolls’ unsettling appearances to the intensified sequences, Demonic Toys is a cult classic that horror fans will thoroughly enjoy.
8. Puppet Master (1989)
Puppet Master is similar to Demonic Toys, and the two films even engaged in a fun crossover. The campy franchise is chock-full of less-than-favorable sequels, but the original showcases a terrifying tale that follows a plethora of live puppets that are released to cause chaos by their malicious puppeteer. The storytelling does have a few bland moments that hinder its overall shock value, but the design of the creepy puppets is certainly not to be missed, and eventually prompted a large cult following for the film series over the years.
7. The Boy (2016)
William Brent Bell’s The Boy rings in as one of the best scary doll movies in modern cinematic horror. The bone-chilling plot revolves around The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan as Greta Evans, a woman that is hired as a nanny by the Heelshires to take care of their prized possession, Brahms. Unbeknownst to Greta, Brahms is actually being controlled by the Heelshires’ disturbed son who has been living in the walls after having been presumed dead. The film is action-packed from beginning to end, and the success eventually led to a sequel.
6. Bride of Chucky (1998)
From the collaboration of director Ronny Yu and writer and creator Don Mancini, Bride of Chucky reintroduced the thrill of the Chucky character to an entirely new audience. Bride of Chucky marks the first appearance of franchise veteran Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany Valentine, who ultimately serves as the former girlfriend of Charles Lee Ray and the murder-crazed partner in crime to Chucky. The latter movies in the franchise steered away from the Andy Barclay storyline of the original Child’s Play film, though Bride of Chucky shines as a genuinely fun installment in the franchise that breathed life back into the concept.
5. Dolls (1987)
Dolls is a late ‘80s cult classic that rolled many retro vibes of the memorable decade into its chilling narrative. In the movie, a family stranded in a vicious thunderstorm come upon a mansion owned by the Hartwickes, where three other people also attempt to seek shelter during the storm. Upon arrival, the family and strangers discover that there are odd dolls scattered around the house. During the night, it is revealed that the couple are magicians with more sinister intentions. The film is ridiculously zany, with a nostalgic nod to the ‘80s and includes many fun moments.
4. Dead of Night (1945)
Without the classics, we wouldn’t have the modern cinematic staples that keep us on our toes. Much like The Twilight Zone episode titled “Living Doll,” Dead of Night introduced the concept of creepy ventriloquist dolls being brought to life. The movie follows Walter Craig, a man who arrives at a remote cottage and discovers that all of the guests in the cottage have been in his dreams. Throughout the night, the guests tell stories, one of which is about a person who believes his dummy is alive. Murderous mayhem occurs later in the night and a dummy named Hugo is suspected. Despite being a film from the ‘40s, its genuine fear factor and inspiration for other doll movies make it an entertaining watch.
3. Dead Silence (2007)
Before The Conjuring implemented the creepiness of porcelain dolls, James Wan’s Dead Silence perfectly conveyed the message of unnerving dolls that contain a mind of their own. The spine-tingling film stars Ryan Kwanten as Jamie Ashen and Amber Valletta as Ella Ashen, a husband and wife duo who receive a mysterious ventriloquist dummy as a gift. When the eerie doll apparently murders Ella, Jamie takes it upon himself to discover the doll’s haunted past. Wan’s creation undoubtedly ranks as one of the scariest doll movies, and the puppet known as Billy is a frightening villain with dark desires.
2. Annabelle: Creation (2017)
The Conjuring universe is one of the most successful franchises in horror, and the Annabelle film series spin-off is just as fearfully delightful. While 2014’s Annabelle introduces the creepy doll based on the Warrens’ infamous investigation, Annabelle: Creation is a dominant sequel that inflicts much more fear than its predecessor. In the movie, a couple host a group of foster children, where one of the girls discovers the Annabelle doll. The film stands as the strongest entry in the series with a coherent plot that chills viewers to the bone.
1. Child’s Play (1988)
Child’s Play is easily one of the driving forces behind the killer-doll scenario. Rather than demonic possession or supernatural occurrences, the Chucky character is created after serial killer Charles Lee Ray transforms his soul into the body of a “Good Guy” doll before his death. When six-year-old Andy Barclay receives the doll as a gift, he realizes that ‘Chucky’ has warped intentions. The Child’s Play franchise has become wildly successful over the years, but the original film still holds up as the best scary doll movie in horror.