Dolls in Horror

by Tracy L. Carbone

I blame some wonderful horror literature and beautifully crafted TV shows and movies for my aversion to porcelain dolls. In my opinion, those dolls are up there with clowns when it comes to innocent things owning the potential for evil.

Despite my fear of them as a “toy,” I have my Audrey, pictured above. She fell several years ago and cracked her face. I didn’t have the heart to throw her away so made her an eye patch. Over the years several people have attempted to throw her away because she’s “creepy.” I disagree, but want nothing to do with all the other dolls like her out there.

I took this picture in NYC at the American Girl Place a few months ago.

I didn’t quite have a panic attack but it was not a fun place to be.  Every second, I was sure they’d start moving, rapping their pretty manicured hands against the glass to escape. Honestly, if they are really harmless, why encase them in a glass cage?

So who propagated this image? Who took pale curly-haired dolls in fancy dresses and made us all start seeing them as devils? Too many to mention, but my favorites follow. These are the ones that frightened me so badly as a child that, except for Audrey, I quiver around dolls.

The first  TV scary doll  memory I have is from an episode of Night Gallery.  It’s called “The Doll.”  It’s part of an episode that contained three short stories back to back. This is the last of the three. I’ve included the whole episode so you’ll have to fast forward. It’s well worth it. One of the classic lines is, “The doll has teeth.” Enough said.

The next one, which I enjoyed watching even as a child but fostered my doll aversion nonetheless, was “The Living Doll” on Twilight Zone. It’s also known as Talky Tina. Click this link to see a great 2 minute minisode. How many of us wish we had a Talky Tina to sic on people? I know I wanted one.

The last two were classic theatrical films, and both I can honestly say I have not seen. I can handle a lot of horror, from haunted houses to exorcisms and everything in between, but because of  Twilight Zone’s and Night Gallery’s evil doll portrayal, I  still haven’t brought myself to watch these.

The trailer for Child’s Play (Chucky) was enough to keep me from the theater. In short time, this evil little boy doll became the poster child for the 1980’s evil playthings.  It’s still pretty easy to find Chucky dolls in Newbury Comics or online.

The second was Magic. Granted, the monster here is a ventriloquist’s dummy and not a porcelain doll, but falls into this category because I’ve never been able to watch more than the trailer on this one. I encourage horror fans to see it, if they haven’t already.  It was made in 1978 and features and all-star cast of Ann Margaret, Anthony Hopkins, Burgess Meredith.

There are dozens of other television shows, movies, and of course short stories and books that transform the innocent to wicked, too many to list. And there will always be horror writers to find the malevolence in the pure, the dark in the light, and to bring us to sinister places where  childhood toys frighten us with delight.

Tracy L. Carbone ,  is the author of The Man of Mystery Hill, published by Echelon Press. Buy Now as an eBook on Kindle . The print version will be released August 15th, 2010, and can be pre-ordered now.

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