Puppets are one of the most loved objects kids play with. This trend didn’t get without notice from horror movie creators and over 30 years many such movies have been released. The world of the ghosts is an unknown place. The evil can appear obviously in lifeless objects. Like in my other article published about technology that took a creepy form of life, the same can be said about puppets. Their human-like form makes it easier for them to show characteristics and moves that scare the public.
This is again not a list featuring every puppet horror movie made the last three decades, but a short list of the most distinguishable puppet characters out there. Some of them made a long career with many sequels, but I will list here their first appearance and if you like the plot and the character you can follow up to see the other sequels too. Child’s play for example who is Chucky just got a remake. Some of the movies are easier to digest with a low scare factor and some will really test your stomach. So there is something for every taste.
Roland Emmerich’s first movie, in which a kid establishes contact with his dead father. This movie is also known under the title making contact. Joey’s gift to talk to his father via phone and move objects has as a result of a ventriloquist dummy named Fletcher coming into the picture. This dummy is possessed by a demon and his sole aim is to make Joey’s life a living hell. To Joey’s surprise, it wasn’t his father who was on the phone, but a trick by Fletcher to establish contact with the kid. This doesn’t sound very scary, but the North American version was heavily cut and ran only 79 minutes, 20 minutes shorter than the original version. When I watched it as a kid (the full-length version), it spooked the hell out of me and I got a trauma for life. The good thing after 25 years I watched it again and it really wasn’t that scary as I remembered it. This movie is aimed for a younger audience and it really does scare kids, as I confirmed by talking to same-aged people over the years who watched it as kids.
Child’s Play (1988)
This is Chucky. I saw that after Joey and thought it was funny, haha. To me, this doll was nowhere as creepy as the ventriloquist dummy. Today I could easily put the Chucky doll somewhere in my house and make jokes about it, but that Fletcher dummy… I wouldn’t want to see it even from a mile away. Chucky has been very successful as seven more movies of him got released. The films mainly focus on Chucky, a notorious serial killer known as the “Lakeshore Strangler” whose soul is transferred inside a Good Guys doll following a voodoo ritual in order to avoid the afterlife and possibly avoid going to Hell. The doll is found by a homeless peddler and sold to Karen Barclay, who gives it to her son Andy as a birthday gift. As time goes on Chucky has to get his soul out of the doll before it turns human and the transfer becomes permanent, and thus has to possess the first person he told his secret to—Andy. Desperate to leave his doll body, Chucky terrorizes the Barclays in order to restore his soul.
Puppet Master (1988)
This one I saw just one time and remember it to be creepy, but then I never found the motivation to follow up watching the whole series. From what I remember there was a living puppet named Jester and it had some followers. So, it wasn’t just one puppet, but there were multiple ones which came to life. Nothing more to say about this one, except that it became popular over the years and that’s why I reserved a spot for it here.
A James Wan-directed movie. This was his first movie and we have to thank the guys at Evolution Entertainment for agreeing to produce the movie for a budget of 1.2mil dollars. The plot includes always a difficult decision to make, between two bad scenarios. It never does end well for the victim. In the first one, Adam, a photographer, awakens in a bathtub in a large dilapidated bathroom, chained at the ankle to a pipe. Lawrence Gordon, an oncologist, is chained to a pipe across the room. Between them is a corpse holding a revolver and a microcassette recorder. Both men find a tape in their pockets. Adam’s tape urges him to escape the bathroom. Lawrence’s tape tells him to kill Adam by six o’clock, or his wife and daughter will be killed and he will be left to die. Adam finds a bag containing two hacksaws inside a toilet. Let me tell you those tools are not for the chains intended. Their captor will be recognized as the Jigsaw Killer, who uses a doll to create suspense. You will not see a doll possessed by some evil, but a human who uses the doll as a scare factor or brand name you could say.
The Boy (2016)
This movie has a perfect cute looking doll. Nothing screams that there is something you should be afraid of. Greta has been hired as Nanny to oversee a young boy named Brahms. The Heelshires who hired Greta share with her some rules she has to follow. The rules include reading to Brahms in a loud, clear voice, playing loud music for him, and putting his food in the freezer if he doesn’t eat it. It also includes setting up rat traps outside, to make sure the rats don’t get inside the house’s walls. Of course, when Greta finds out that Brahms is a porcelain doll she ignores the rules, at least at first. Over time the strange occurrences amass and a thriller evolves. From all the puppet horror movies this has been in my opinion the softest, but still enough entertaining to make you want to watch it until the end.
The Conjuring (2013)
Conjuring is part of a series of movies in which Anabelle the doll will play a significant role. In this installment of James Wan who directed also Saw and Insidious, Anabelle will be mentioned only in the prolog of the movie. I presented recently an article, explaining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a timeline and the Conjuring Universe will need to get also one, haha. In the first part of Conjuring a couple with their daughters move into a house and they will face paranormal activities, in such a great extent, that it will push them to call demonologists Lorrain and Ed Warren who have recently investigated a possessed doll named Anabelle. You see, to enjoy Anabelle to full beauty you have to view first this almost no doll participating movie.
Dead Silence (2007)
Wan was the director of this movie too. From all the other puppet movies ever made, this has the most deeper story with a surprising turn of events in the end. I will try not to say too much and just explain the basic beginning. A young widower returns to his hometown Ravens Fair to search for answers to his wife’s murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist. This ghost has been a famous folktale in this small town and its name was Mary Shaw. When Mary dies she was buried with all her puppets and since then the town has been plagued by mysterious deaths. People of the town suspected the puppets came to live to seek revenge on people that killed her and their families.
As always I’m happy to hear your thoughts about these puppet horror movies and if you have any other suggestion I would gladly hear about it too. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate you found this post interesting to read.