Horror Movies: ‘M3GAN’ and 12 other scary dolls

You thought we were going to start with good old Chucky, right? Well no: the first murderous toys in the cinema could be the ones in this film, although with a small caveat: here the dolls are, in reality, human beings reduced to the minimum expression, and camouflaged as figurines for children by the film’s antihero, a cross-dressing, avenging Lionel Barrymore.

Hugo, as this evil puppet is called, is not sold in toy stores: it is a ventriloquist doll, which in itself will fill you with horror if you remember the golden age of Mari Carmen and José Luis Moreno. On the other hand, the fact that Hugo is possessed by the spirit of his former owner is very reminiscent of something, right?

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‘Magic’ (Richard Attenborough, 1978)

The future director of ‘Gandhi’ and screenwriter William Goldman (‘The Princess Bride’) tell us the story of a ventriloquist (Anthony Hopkins) and his puppet, a bug named Fats whose face would be able to scare Satan. The man and the wimp will compete for the love of the stout Ann-Margret, seeing themselves pushed into the usual homicidal spiral.


‘Poltergeist’ (Tobe Hooper, 1982)

Yes, it’s him: the bloody clown. Product of Hooper’s unapologetic morbidity (he didn’t need the chainsaws of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ to imbue us with holy terror) and Steven Spielberg’s (here, producer) fixation on the dark side of childhood, this damn puppet He doesn’t have many scenes in the film, but he doesn’t need them to give us holy terror either.


‘Dolls’ (Stuart Gordon, 1987)

The grim, but kind marriage of Guy Rolfe and Hilary Mason is dedicated to imprisoning the souls of criminals and murderers in adorable porcelain dolls, in order to make them purge their sins by making children happy. When a group of lost travelers, each more unpresentable, arrives at the mansion of yore, the peponas and the polichinelas prepare to make a killing…


‘Devil Doll’ (Tom Holland, 1988)

It has been hard work, as befits a star, but here we have it: with all of you, the one and only great Chucky, the protagonist of a franchise that continues to this day. His adventures (the seven films of the original franchise, a remake in which we better not linger too long and a series, among other products) have generated a whopping 250 million dollars worldwide, in addition to allowing him to rub shoulders with luminaries from the likes of John Waters.


‘Puppet Master: Revenge of the Dolls’ (David Schmoeller, 1989)

Without wishing to underestimate Chucky (anyone dares, knowing how he spends them), we have to admit that the Full Moon studio was an emporium of evil toys. In addition to the ten installments of ‘Puppet Master’, a saga in which Egyptian curses are mixed with Nazi conspiracies, Full Moon has cultivated the subgenre with the ‘Killer Toys’ and ‘Dollman’ franchises.


‘Dolly Dearest: Playing to Kill’ (Maria Lease, 1991)

Set in Mexico, and with the always handy excuse of the ancient Indian cemetery (Maya, in this case) as a source of primal horrors, ‘Dolly Dearest’ introduces us to a toy with a skirt and little knives that combines a black heart with an exterior of the more grim. The truth is that Dolly’s face reminds us a lot of Isabelle Fuhrman from ‘The Orphan’… after removing her makeup.


‘Saw’ (James Wan, 2004)

Before selling us the pepon doll with ‘Annabelle’, Wan already knew how to use dolls to make us sweat cold: if, one fine day, you wake up in a damp and filthy basement and this wimp gives you a talk about the value of life, the purifying virtue of danger and the ability of pain to atone for sins, pray what you know and be prepared to lose a limb or two (if you’re lucky).


‘Silence from Evil’ (J. Wan, 2007)

In the end it’s going to be that the creator of ‘Saw’ and Leigh Whannell (his lead screenwriter) have a thing for hellish toys… for now, here we have them taking advantage of the cursed ventriloquist dummy trope. Let us point out that both Wan and Whannell regard this film as a misstep, motivated by economic necessity and botched by the producers.


‘Annabelle’ (JR Leonetti, 2014)

My goodness, but how smart is James Wan: only he would have been able to turn that pepona that gave so much bad vibes in a scene from ‘The Warren File’ into an icon, star of three films (to this, we must add ‘Annabelle : Creation’ and ‘Annabelle Comes Home’) without the aforementioned moving a joint. Looking at us with that little face of hers, the little one has plenty.


‘The Boy’ (William Brent Bell, 2016)

In horror movies, babysitting has always been high risk. But if it turns out that the child to whom the ‘nanny’ on duty (Lauren Cohan) turns out to be an extremely pale doll… well then it’s time to get out without looking back. Considered at the time as a male counterpart to ‘Annabelle’, ‘The Boy’ went unnoticed and has failed to generate its own franchise.


‘M3GAN’ (Gerard Johnstone, 2023)

A Blumhouse movie was missing on this list, right? Well here we have it… and with James Wan, to top it off, signing his argument. Far from supernatural horrors, yes, ‘M3GAN’ is a satirical comedy in the ‘Black Mirror’ style that pairs the small android that gives it its title with an orphan girl: the doll’s mission is to protect its owner, something that will come at a cost. whatever the cost (and with the results that we all imagine).

Font: horror cinema

Horror Movies: ‘M3GAN’ and 12 other scary dolls