Everyone loves films about tiny, sentient human replicas on the attack. One of the most enduring tropes in horror is the creepy doll, whether used as unnerving background decoration or death-dealing assassin. But what about other toys that clutter shelves and cast weird shadows in the night? While Chucky, Talky Tina and their ilk are the main topic for our October 8 lecture on killer dolls, marionettes and ventriloquist dummies, we thought we’d consider some other suspects.
Here’s food for thought: although bears are dangerous creatures with sharp teeth and sharper claws, we give small fuzzy representations of these wild beasts to our young for cuddling. Wake up, sheeple! Stuart Gordon’s weird flick DOLLS focuses mostly on…uh, dolls – but he doesn’t forget teddy bears can be nightmare fuel too.
Remember in the 1980s when everybody had one of those TOMY robots from Radio Shack? Remember when the robot revolution came and they started killing all their owners to prove the superiority of artificial intelligence? EVOLVER depicts just such an eventuality, as a teen enters a virtual-reality laser tag tournament and wins a robot voiced by William H. Macy and programmed to play a real-life version of the game. But each time it loses, ‘Evolver’ gets smarter and faster, and eventually becomes a deadly, flamethrower-packing opponent.
There’s nothing like a team effort. A blade-spinning remote-controlled car is the true murderer in disputed classic SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER, but technically it’s a killer collaboration of rubber snake, rubber hand, robot activating a toy cannon, and motorized crawling soldiers. The TOY STORY of straight-to-video horror schlock?
Home invasion is bad enough without an armed, plastic-faced military intruder. The bizarre XTRO includes a memorable sequence where a G.I. Joe-like action figure comes to life, grows to human size and murders an old woman. What’s that, you say? Action figures are just dolls for boys? Shhh! My Wrestling Superstars™ Cage Match Challenge Hulk Hogan 8″ Bendie almost heard you!
Was anyone more obsessed with killer dolls than Charles Band? Band’s Full Moon Features pumped out dozens of films with pint-sized menaces, including ten PUPPET MASTER movies, DOLLMAN, a bunch of DEMONIC TOYS movies, and even brain-dead crossovers such as DOLLMAN VS. DEMONIC TOYS, PUPPET MASTER VS. DEMONIC TOYS, and the anthology THE HAUNTED DOLLHOUSE.
We’re trying to look beyond dolls, but it’s worth mentioning the DEMONIC TOYS series features doll ringleader Baby Oopsie Daisy assembling a wrecking crew of almost all the toys listed above (Grizzly Teddy, robot Mr. Static and army action figure Zombietoid), as well as the perpetually laughing jack-in-the-box clown ‘Jack Attack’. In true Charles Band style, you can buy Demonic Toys replicas to put in your room and experience the thrill of maybe getting stabbed in your sleep.