The Best Killer Doll Horror Movies

There's something about a good killer doll horror movie that, like a killer kid flick, uses the unexpected juxtaposition of apparent innocence with jarring evil to create a fun, often goofy -- but sometimes quite chilling -- good time. Here are my choices for the best killer doll films.

Note: I'm restricting my list to movies (or anthology stories) that revolve largely around killer dolls. Thus, no Poltergeist, which has a legendary killer clown doll, but it's limited largely to one scene. And while Saw has a prominent doll, it isn't really the focus of the film.

23
of 23

Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984)

Black Devil Doll from Hell
© Massacre Video

Stay with me here. Yes, this is an awful movie, but it's one of those "so bad it's good" affairs -- in this case, the story of an uptight "church lady" who's seduced by an evil, horny doll -- whose awe-inspiring ineptitude makes you question life itself.

22
of 23

The Pit (1981)

The Pit (1981)
© Amulet

It will never be confused for a good movie, but The Pit remains absurdly watchable, thanks to its train wreck of a lead character. Watching 12-year-old Jamie is like watching a serial killer hitting puberty. He's an emotionally disturbed, pathologically lying perv who looks up women's skirts and sends harassing photos of naked women to his teachers. His teddy bear is even more pervy, prodding him even further into voyeurism. If there's anyone who shouldn't be trusted with a pit full of maneating troglodytes, it's him. But unfortunately for everyone else, he's the one who discovers the pit, and his natural inclination is to lure people he doesn't like (of which there are many) to it and push 'em in.

21
of 23

Devil Doll (1964)

Devil Doll (1964)
© Associated Film

In this British film, a ventriloquist struggles to control his mutinous dummy, which goes so far as trying to kill him mid-act. It's a bit sluggish and there are some laughably bad moments (beginning with the looped audio from the non-existent audience in an opening scene or the lameness of the ventriloquist act itself), but there's something fascinatingly creepy about seeing the grotesque dummy (i.e., a person in a dummy costume) walking around -- certainly more nightmare-inducing than a lot of cinematic killer dolls.

20
of 23

Puppet Master (1989)

Puppet Master
© Full Moon

Charles Band's career has basically become synonymous with killer puppet/doll movies -- beginning with his production of Puppet Master and veering into not only nine (!) sequels but also similar films like Demonic Toys, Blood Dolls, Ragdoll, Dangerous Worry Dolls, Doll Graveyard, DevilDolls, Ooga Booga and Totem -- but Puppet Master, in which a group of psychics are tormented by living puppets in a remote hotel, is probably the cream of the crop. Granted, this is a very rancid crop.

19
of 23

The Doll Master (2004)

The Doll Master
© Lotte Cinema/Cineclick Asia

This isn't exactly top-notch Korean horror, but it's a solidly entertaining supernatural tale that blends killer doll fare with standard Asian "yūrei" ghost fare about a life-sized doll avenging the murder of her maker.

18
of 23

Dolly Dearest (1991)

Dolly Dearest
© Lionsgate

A supporting role in Dolly Dearest certainly isn't among Rip Torn's career high points, but this is a fun low-brow popcorn flick that merges Child's Play and The Exorcist and gains momentum as it builds to a rousing climax in which a family must battle a small army of little girl dolls possessed by an evil Mayan spirit.

17
of 23

Pinocchio's Revenge (1996)

Pinocchio's Revenge
© Vidmark

Basically a riff on the Child's Play formula, this competent rehash is the baseline to which every goofy killer doll/puppet movie should aspire. It delivers the basic elements with a fast pace, a steady dose of kills and an engaging level of campy fun -- heightened by the puppet's bubbly cartoon voice, which is like listening to Mickey Mouse hurling foul-mouthed death threats.

16
of 23

Tales from the Hood (1995)

Tales from the Hood African-American horror movie
© Savoy

In this "urban" horror anthology, the tale "KKK Comeuppance" finds a racist ex-Klansman Congressman (played with enthusiasm by Corbin Bernsen and no doubt inspired by David Duke) moving into a former plantation where the souls of murdered slaves are rumored to inhabit dolls that once belonged to a Hoodoo witch.

15
of 23

The Boy (2016)

The Boy
© STX Entertainment

Unfairly dismissed by critics, this story of an American nanny who discovers the British child she's been hired to care for is a doll is effectively eerie, playing like equal parts killer doll movie and haunted house fare before veering into something else entirely -- a refreshing, if unoriginal twist.

14
of 23

Dead Silence (2007)

Dead Silence
© Universal

A muddied mythology and scares that don't land quite as well as they should make this story of a lynched woman who uses her doll obsession to gain vengeance from beyond the grave a disappointment by director James Wan's high standards (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring), but it's still engrossing with a wicked (though nonsensical) ending.

13
of 23

Scarecrows (1988)

Scarecrows
© Shout! Factory

Scarecrows are basically mannequins, which are basically dolls, right? A lot of people find clowns inherently scary, but to me, scarecrows are the clowns of the farmland. This oft-forgotten jewel from the '80s about robbers searching for their lost loot who fall prey to undead scarecrows exploits this natural creepiness to deliver a trippy, gory blend of supernatural slasher and zombie movie.

12
of 23

Love Object (2004)

Love Object
© Lionsgate

This "fatal attraction" thriller with a killer doll aesthetic, stars Dexter's Desmon Harringon as a shy technical writer who develops a warped relationship with a rubber sex doll that he envisions developing a mind of its own, becoming increasingly jealous, domineering and violent towards him and his romantic interests.

11
of 23

Creepshow 2 (1987)

Creepshow 2
© New World

In the "Old Chief Wood'nhead" segment of this anthology sequel written by George Romero and Stephen King, three robbers knock over a small-town store, killing the kindly old owners and stealing valued Native American relics. This injustice triggers the wooden "Cigar store Indian" statue to go all Rambo, tracking them down and gaining bloody revenge one by one.

10
of 23

Asylum (1972)

Asylum (1972)
© Cinema International

This wonderfully conceived British anthology contains two killer doll segments. In "The Weird Tailor," a man orders a tailor to make a suit from a mystical fabric with supernatural powers of reanimation, and in "Mannikins of Horror," a doctor transfers his soul into a doll in order to get revenge.

09
of 23

Tourist Trap (1979)

Tourist Trap
© Compass International

I don't know why mannequins aren't used more often in horror movies; they're pretty darn unnerving, no matter how many Starship videos they appear in. This atmospheric cult film combines killer dolls with a backwoods slasher and Carrie-like telekinesis, as a group of friends falls prey to a masked killer who uses the power of his mind to control his Hoarders-esque stash of mannequins.

08
of 23

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow
© VCI

This cult favorite TV movie about a mentally challenged man who's wrongfully killed by a lynch mob while dressed as a scarecrow and seemingly returns from the grave for revenge smartly keeps things low key but still manages to deliver (non-explicit) thrills, buoyed by the scene eating of perennial love-to-hate-him bad guy Charles Durning.

07
of 23

Pin (1988)

Pin
© New World

Featuring perhaps the most unique doll on this list, Pin is basically a Canadian Psycho with a life-sized, anatomically correct medical dummy instead of a mother controlling the actions of a mentally deranged man. It's an unsettling thriller that pokes holes in social mores, class constructs and familial ties.

06
of 23

Dead of Night (1945)

Dead of Night (1945)
© Universal

This groundbreaking and surprisingly trippy British film includes the story of a ventriloquist who's increasingly controlled by his dummy, setting the stage for other movies (Magic, Pin, Love Object) about lonely doll owners with fragile mental states whose domineering plastic friends may or may not be alive.

05
of 23

Magic (1978)

Magic
© Dark Sky

Before he was Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins delivered a tour-de-force performance in this film from Oscar winner Richard Attenborough (Gandhi) as a mentally unhinged ventriloquist who forms a dark, co-dependent relationship with his dummy, which seems to have a mind of its own.

04
of 23

Dolls (1987)

Dolls
© Empire

Playing like a dark fairy tale, Stuart Gordon's Dolls is throwback "old dark house" effort with a gleefully grisly sense of humor, as a group of travelers on a dark and story night end up stranded at a mysterious country home whose elderly owners have a large collection of dolls that like to punish wrongdoers.

03
of 23

Trilogy of Terror (1975)

Trilogy of Terror
© Dark Sky

Had Trilogy of Terror been a theatrical release rather than a TV movie, the Zuni hunting fetish doll in the "Amelia" segment of this anthology might be as popular today as Chucky. He certainly has my vote for most vicious killer doll, as he attacks anyone around him with the rabid, relentless energy of the Energizer bunny on acid while squealing like Gilbert Gottfried swallowing a cat. Any scene he's in is full of insane hilarity. The 1996 sequel is a solid but overly referential follow-up.

02
of 23

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring ghost movie
© New Line

The newest horror icon, haunted doll Annabelle made a splash as a B-story outshining the A-story in The Conjuring, her terrifying introduction as scary as any evil doll scene since Poltergeist. Of course, she warranted a movie of her own, but the origin story pales in comparison to The Conjuring.

01
of 23

Child's Play (1988)

Child's Play
© MGM

There's a reason Chucky has become a horror legend. The doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer is one bad mutha. While later sequels turned him into a sympathetic antihero, in Child's Play he's a lean, mean killing machine who keeps coming back for more mayhem.