Killer toy

Killer toys are fictional characters based on toys, dolls or puppets that commit violent acts. Reasons for these actions have included possession by demons, devils, monsters, ghosts, supernatural creatures, dark magic, and malevolent or malfunctioning technology.


Toys coming to life is a common and historical concept in children's literature,[1] and the idea has been adapted into numerous horror films and other horror fiction. The 1978 film Magic represents a key inspiration for subsequent films, while the subgenre's best-known films are the Child's Play franchise.[2][3]

Several works have used ventriloquist's dummies as antagonists, with the dummies either being outlets for their operator's psychosis or acting malevolently on their own.[4]

List of films

The films that feature killer toys are listed as follows:

Film Year Rating (Rotten Tomatoes) Reference
The Devil-Doll1936100% (6 reviews)[5]
Dead of Night194596% (28 reviews)[6][7]
Attack of the Puppet People1958No score yet... (1 review)[8]
The Curse of the Doll People (a.k.a. Devil Doll Men)1961No critic reviews yet...[9]
Devil Doll196420% (5 reviews)[10]
House of Evil (a.k.a. Dance of Death)1968No critic reviews yet...[11][12]
A Reflection of Fear1972No critic reviews yet...[13]
Asylum197260% (10 reviews)[14][7]
From Beyond the Grave1974No score yet... (4 reviews)[15][7]
Craze1974No score yet... (1 review)[16]
Patayin Mo Sa Sindak Si Barbara1974[7]
Trilogy of Terror197590% (10 reviews)[17]
Cauchemares (a.k.a. Cathy's Curse)1977No critic reviews yet...[18]
The Wiz197842% (33 reviews)[19]
Magic197883% (18 reviews)[20][7]
Tourist Trap1979No score yet... (1 review)[21]
The Pit1981No score yet... (2 reviews)[22]
Poltergeist198288% (56 reviews)[23]
Xtro198220% (5 reviews)[24]
Curtains198360% (5 reviews)[25]
Black Devil Doll from Hell1984No critic reviews yet...[26]
The Devil's Gift1984No critic reviews yet...[27]
Joey (a.k.a. Making Contact)1985No critic reviews yet...[28]
Dolls198764% (11 reviews)[29][30]
GhostHouse (a.k.a. La Casa 3)1988No score yet... (1 review)[31][32]
Child's Play198869% (35 reviews)[33][30]
Pin1988No critic reviews yet...[34]
Puppet Master198933% (6 reviews)[35][7]
Child's Play 2199040% (15 reviews)[36][30]
Puppet Master II199133% (6 reviews)[37]
Child's Play 3199123% (13 reviews)[38][30]
Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge1991No score yet... (3 reviews)[39]
Dolly Dearest1991No score yet... (3 reviews)[40][41]
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker1991No score yet... (1 review)[42]
Dollman1991No score yet... (3 reviews)[43]
Demonic Toys1992No score yet... (3 reviews)[44][45]
Curse, Death & Spirit (a.k.a. Honto ni atta kowai hanashi: Jushiryou)1992No critic reviews yet...[46]
Dollman vs. Demonic Toys1993No score yet... (2 reviews)[47][41]
Puppet Master 419930% (5 reviews)[48]
Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter1994No score yet... (3 reviews)[49]
The Fear1995No score yet... (1 review)[50]
Tales from the Hood199538% (16 reviews)[51]
Patayin sa Sindak Si Barbara1995
Doll from Hell (a.k.a. Ikenie)1996No critic reviews yet...[52]
Amityville Dollhouse1996No score yet... (2 reviews)[53]
Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders1996No score yet... (1 review)[54]
Pinocchio's Revenge1996No score yet... (4 reviews)[55]
Trilogy of Terror II1996No critic reviews yet...[56]
Quicksilver Highway1997No score yet... (3 reviews)[57]
Curse of the Puppet Master1998No score yet... (2 reviews)[58][59]
Small Soldiers199848% (44 reviews)[60][61]
Bride of Chucky199844% (34 reviews)[62][30]
The Fear: Resurrection1999No critic reviews yet...[63]
Blood Dolls1999No score yet... (1 review)
Totem1999No critic reviews yet...[64]
Retro Puppet Master1999No score yet... (1 review)[65]
Ragdoll1999No critic reviews yet...[66]
The Dummy2000No critic reviews yet...[67]
May200269% (64 reviews)[68]
Demon Island2002No score yet... (1 review)[69]
Terror Toons2002No score yet... (1 review)[70]
Love Object200342% (24 reviews)[71]
Puppet Master: The Legacy2003No score yet... (1 review)[72]
Doll Master (a.k.a. Inhyeongsa)2004No critic reviews yet...[73]
Seed of Chucky200432% (75 reviews)[74][30][75]
Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys2004No score yet... (1 review)[76]
Marronnier2004No score yet... (2 reviews)[77]
When Puppets and Dolls Attack!2004No critic reviews yet...[78]
Doll Graveyard2005No score yet... (2 reviews)[79]
Tiki2006No critic reviews yet...[80]
Dead Silence200721% (76 reviews)[60][7]
Terror Toons 2: The Sick and Silly Show2007No critic reviews yet...[81]
Black Devil Doll2007No score yet... (3 reviews)[82]
Trick 'r Treat2007
Dangerous Worry Dolls2008No critic reviews yet...[83]
Triloquist2008No score yet... (2 reviews)[84]
Puppet Show2008No critic reviews yet...[85]
Skull Heads2009No score yet... (2 reviews)[86]
The Hole200981% (36 reviews)[87]
Demonic Toys 2 (a.k.a. Demonic Toys: Personal Demons)2010No score yet... (1 review)[88]
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil2010No score yet... (1 review)[89]
Shake, Rattle & Roll 122010No critic reviews yet...[90]
Puppet Master X: Axis Rising2012No score yet... (1 review)[91]
Ooga Booga2013No score yet... (2 reviews)[92]
The Conjuring201386% (199 reviews)[93]
Curse of Chucky201380% (15 reviews)[94][30]
Maria Leonora Teresa2014No critic reviews yet...[95]
Finders Keepers2014No critic reviews yet...[96]
Annabelle201429% (117 reviews)[97]
Poltergeist201531% (102 reviews)[98]
Goosebumps201576% (152 reviews)[99]
Krampus201565% (97 reviews)[100]
The Boy201629% (41 reviews)[101]
Annabelle: Creation201768% (117 reviews)[102]
The Toymaker2017[103]
Cult of Chucky201783% (18 reviews)[104]
Tales from the Hood 2201867% (6 reviews)[105]
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween201848% (84 reviews)[106]
Child's Play201964% (186 reviews)[107]
Annabelle Comes Home2019TBA[108]

In television

  • Evil dolls are antagonists in episodes of The Twilight Zone, both the 1959–1964 series and the 2002 version:
    • 1962: "The Dummy" (3.33) with a ventriloquist dummy that attempts to exact revenge when he is replaced
    • 1963: "Living Doll" (5.6) features Talky Tina (voiced by June Foray), a doll belonging to the stepdaughter of Erich Streator (played by Telly Savalas)
    • 1964: "Caesar and Me" (5.28) features a ventriloquist dummy that goads his owner into committing robberies and deserts him when the police come for him
    • 2002: "The Collection" features a young girl's strange collection of dolls which were made from her past babysitters
  • The theme of evil toys has also been used in Doctor Who episodes:
  • 1986: Smurfs episode "Gargamel's Dummy," the series' antagonist Gargamel casts an evil spell on a ventriloquist's dummy Jokey Smurf had created for a talent show, hoping to use it to help him destroy the Smurf village and ultimately, the Smurfs. The dummy was a parody of Gargamel, and the real Gargamel, angered upon learning of it, casts the spell to begin exacting his revenge.
  • 1992: The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror III", the segment "Clown Without Pity" features a Krusty doll that tries to kill Homer. The segment borrows elements from the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll", the Child's Play films, Gremlins, the 1975 TV film Trilogy of Terror segment "Amelia" about a killer Zuni fetish doll as well as its 1996 cinematic sequel Trilogy of Terror II segment "He Who Kills", which are both in turn adaptations of Richard Matheson's 1969 short story, "Prey". The segment also borrows elements from Cape Fear. In a different episode, "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner", a possessed killer doll named "Baby Button Eyes" appears in a horror film, The Re-Deadening (a parody of Dolly Dearest). The doll is most likely based on the real-life appearance of "Annabelle", a possessed Raggedy Ann doll.
  • 1994: The Mega Man episode "Crime of the Century," Dr. Wily reprograms a bunch of dolls and other toys to perform robberies all over the city. However, it's all just a diversion so Wily can get his hands on something much more valuable: a giant black pearl.
  • Ventriloquist dummies and dolls are also portrayed as evil in the works of R.L. Stine:
    • 1994: The Goosebumps books and TV series had the "Night of the Living Dummy" stories which featured a sentient ventriloquist dummy named Slappy.
    • 2010: R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour featured Lilly D. in the episodes "Really You" Pt. 1 and 2 and "The Return of Lilly D".
    • 2014: R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour features another killer toy in the episode "Near Mint Condition", which centers around Mangler, a rare cybernetic teddy bear from an '80s cartoon that was withdrawn from the market for allegedly killing and maiming its owners.
  • 2003: In the What's New, Scooby Doo? episode "Toy Scary Boo," the gang investigates a store with living toys that are taking it over.
  • 2006: In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius episode "Flippy", Jimmy puts a chip in a dummy to help his father's ventriloquism act, only for it to go awry and steal from Hugh's brain to make the dummy sentient while leaving him a mindless zombie. Later Flippy almost kills Hugh by throwing him off a cliff in order to keep his energy and stay alive.
  • 2013: In the Grojband episode "No Strings Attached," Trina Riffin suffers from pupaphobia after she had wicked visions of puppets when she was a child.
  • 2015: In the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead, "El Jefe", the demonic forces attack Ash Williams at the supermarket where he works by possessing a "Little Lori" doll.

List of episodes

The episodes that feature killer toys are listed as follows:

Series Episodechuke Year Reference
The Twilight Zone"The Dummy"1962
The Twilight Zone"Living Doll"1963
The Twilight Zone"Caesar and Me"1964
Doctor Who"The Celestial Toymaker"1966
Night Gallery"The Doll"1971
The Smurfs"Gargamel's Dummy"1986
Tales from the Crypt"Strung Along"1992
The Simpsons"Treehouse of Horror III"1992
Mega Man"Crime of the Century"1996
Goosebumps"Night of the Living Dummy II"1996
Goosebumps"Night of the Living Dummy III: Part 1"1997
Goosebumps"Night of the Living Dummy III: Part 2"1997
Goosebumps"Bride of the Living Dummy"1998
The X-Files"Chinga"1998
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction"Battered Doll/Poker Justice"2002
What's New, Scooby-Doo?"Toy Scary Boo"2003
The Twilight Zone"The Collection"2003
The Simpsons"The Ziff Who Came to Dinner"2004
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius"Flippy"2006
Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King"Battleground"2006
R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: The Series"Really You: Part 1"2010
R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: The Series"Really You: Part 2"2010
Doctor Who"Night Terrors"2011
R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: The Series"The Return of Lilly D"2012
R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: The Series"Near Mint Condition"2014
Ash vs Evil Dead"El Jefe"2015

See also


  1. Buckingham, David (1996), Media Myths, Children's Nightmares, ISBN 9780719045950, Stories of toys that come to life can of course be found throughout the history of children's literature...
  2. Buckingham, David (1996). Moving Images: Understanding Children's Emotional Responses to Television. Manchester University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7190-4595-0.
  3. Lennard, Dominic W. All fun and games…: children's culture in the horror film, from Deep Red (1975) to Child's Play (1988), Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 133-142 (2012)
  4. Trendacosta, Katherine (25 March 2013). "The 10 Creepiest Ventriloquist Dummies of All Time". io9. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  5. "The Devil-Doll". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  6. "Dead of Night". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  7. Landis, John (2011). "Killer Dolls". Monsters in the Movies. DK Adults. pp. 236–237. ISBN 978-0-7566-8370-2.
  8. "Attack of the Puppet People". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  9. "Devil Doll Men (Munecos Infernales)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  10. "Devil Doll". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  11. "Dance of Death". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  12. Maltin, Leonard (2009). Leonard Maltin's 2010 Movie Guide. Plume. ISBN 978-0-452-29557-5.
  13. "A Reflection of Fear". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  14. "Asylum". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  15. "From Beyond the Grave". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  16. "Craze, (Demon Master)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  17. "Trilogy of Terror". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  18. "Cauchemares (Cathy's Curse)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  19. "The Wiz". Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  20. "Magic". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  21. "Tourist Trap". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  23. "Poltergeist". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  24. "Xtro". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  25. "Curtains". Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  26. "Black Devil Doll from Hell". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  28. "Making Contact". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  29. "Dolls". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  30. Berra, John, ed. (2010). Directory of World Cinema: American Independent. Intellect Ltd. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-84150-368-4.
  31. "La Casa 3 (Ghosthouse)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  32. "Ghosthouse (1988)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  33. "Child's Play". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  34. "Pin". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  35. "Puppet Master". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  36. "Child's Play 2". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  37. "Puppet Master II". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  38. "Child's Play 3". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  39. "Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  40. "Dolly Dearest". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  41. Weldon, Michael (1996). The Psychotronic Video Guide To Film. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-312-13149-4.
  42. "Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  43. "Dollman". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  44. "Demonic Toys (Dangerous Toys)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  45. Telotte, J.P. The Mouse Machine: Disney and Technology, p. 172 (2008)
  46. "Curse, Death & Spirit". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  47. "Dollman vs. Demonic Toys". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  48. "Puppet Master 4". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  49. "Puppet Master V (Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  50. "The Fear". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  51. "Tales From the Hood". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  53. "Amityville Dollhouse: Evil Never Dies". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  54. "Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  55. "Pinocchio's Revenge". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  56. "Trilogy of Terror II". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  57. "Quicksilver Highway". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  58. "Curse of the Puppet Master". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  59. "Curse of the Puppet Master (Video 1998)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  60. "Small Soldiers". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  61. Bart, Peter (2000). The Gross: The Hits, The Flops: The Summer That Ate Hollywood. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-312-25391-2.
  62. "Bride of Chucky". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  63. "The Fear 2: Resurrection". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  64. "Totem". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  65. "Retro Puppet Master (Puppet Master 7)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  66. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-12. Retrieved 2015-11-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  68. "May". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  69. "Piñata: Survival Island". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  70. "Terror Toons". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  71. "Love Object". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  72. "Puppet Master: The Legacy". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  73. "Inhyeongsa (The Doll Master)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  74. "Seed of Chucky". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  75. "Seed of Chucky (2004)". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  76. "Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  77. "Marronnier". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  78. "When Puppets and Dolls Attack!". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  79. "Doll Graveyard". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  80. "Tiki". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  82. "Black Devil Doll". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  83. "Dangerous Worry Dolls". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  84. "Triloquist". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  85. "Puppet Show". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  86. "Skull Heads". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  87. "The Hole". Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  88. "Demonic Toys 2". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  89. "Puppet Master: Axis of Evil". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  90. "Shake Rattle and Roll 12". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  91. "Puppet Master X: Axis Rising". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  92. "Ooga Booga". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  93. "The Conjuring". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  94. "Curse of Chucky". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  95. "Maria, Leonora, Teresa". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  96. "Finders Keepers". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  97. "Annabelle". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  98. "Poltergeist". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  99. "Goosebumps". Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  100. "Krampus". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  101. "The Boy". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  102. "Annabelle: Creation". Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  103. "The Toymaker".
  106. "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  107. "Child's Play (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  108. Nam, Cathy (October 17, 2018). "Evil Comes Home as Production Begins on the Next Terrifying Chapter in New Line Cinema's Annabelle Series". Business Wire. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  109. "Dr Who 10th Anniversary Special. Chapter: Dodo Chaplet / Jackie Lane". Radio Times. 1973.
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