“My name is Talky Tina and I’m going to kill you!” still makes Twilight Zone fans shudder when they watch the anthology series’ “Living Doll” episode. Talky Tina appears to be an innocent toy, until you pull her string…. You can purchase your own Talky Tina, thanks to a new replica that utters the same five phrases from the chilling episode (sampled from the original audio, even). The trope of the evil doll has been featured throughout pop culture, exploiting our fears of the mute, blank, seemingly knowing toys. Here are ten of the creepiest.
Chinga in The X-Files
X-Files creator Chris Carter and Stephen King co-wrote an episode for the sci-fi television series in 1998. Chinga is an antique doll that compels people to commit violent acts… against themselves. The film opens with Chinga accompanying a young girl and her mother to the grocery store, where the customers attempt to gouge their own eyes out. You know, the usual King merriment. The Mulder and Scully banter as they try to solve the case (even though Scully is on vacation, dammit) lends some actual humor to the episode, but Chinga is no laughing matter.
The running doll in Deep Red
Italian horror legend Dario Argento orchestrated an unusual murder scene using a doll that bursts through a door and runs toward the victim just before he’s brutalized by an unseen attacker. Nightmares for life.
Chucky from Child’s Play
Don Mancini created a franchise of killer doll movies with his film Child’s Play. Initially inspired by the popularity of Cabbage Patch Kids and the increasingly manipulative marketing of children’s toys, the writer-director came up with a story about a serial killer who uses voodoo to transfer his soul into a toy. Chucky was born. There’s also a theory that the Child’s Play movies were inspired by a real-life doll named Robert.
The rejected Renesmee Cullen doll in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
The Twilight film series spawned a terrifying animatronic doll that almost made it to the big screen. Renesmee is the half-human, half-vampire daughter of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. Although Renesmee has an otherworldly appearance, director Bill Condon wanted to ensure that the character didn’t look like a CGI fake. He opted for practical effects, and a puppet was created that the cast and crew quickly nicknamed “Chuckesmee” (see our previous creepy doll for more on that). The doll is quite creepy, with freakishly large eyes, and looks like a living Margaret Keane painting. Condon eventually scrapped the animatronic nightmare. This behind-the-scenes video of actress Nikki Reed, who stars as Rosalie Hale in the series, shows just how scary and absurd “Chuckesmee” was.
Fats the dummy in Magic
A ventriloquist, Corky (Anthony Hopkins), becomes a slave to his foul-mouthed, murderous dummy named Fats (voiced by Hopkins). The psychotic doll becomes more possessive of Corky when he rekindles a romance with his high school sweetheart.
The Lonely Doll series
Dare Wright, a model and actress, photographed her childhood doll, Edith (named after her mother). Posing the toy with two teddy bears (believed to represent her brother and father) in real-life situations, Wright composed unexpectedly poetic photographs that led to a book series — the first of which was called The Lonely Doll (1957). Some of the imagery seems to be a product of its time, as in the case of the bear spanking Edith. Other photos, as seen in Edith and Big Bad Bill (1968), felt strangely dark and paralleled Wright’s troubled life story in heartbreaking ways. That book featured a startling cover of Edith in bondage against a tree.
The killer dolls in Barbarella
When sexy space adventurer Barbarella (Jane Fonda) lands on an icy planet, she’s attacked (bitten) by a group of children who let loose a group of demonic-looking dolls with razor-sharp teeth. It’s one of the 1968 film’s scariest moments, but visually striking nonetheless.
The gory mannequins in Maniac
A schizophrenic serial killer sleeps with mannequins he styles with the scalps of his victims. He carries conversations with the plastic women, hearing the voice of his dead mother, who was an abusive prostitute. The grimy, violent Maniac recalls an era of New York City when Times Square was a mecca for drugs, sex, and death — but the mannequins steal the show. (Trailer NSFW.)
The Estelle doll in Seinfeld
Creepy dolls aren’t relegated to the realm of horror cinema. Seinfeld featured a doll that belonged to George’s fiancée Susan. It resembled George’s shrill and nagging mother (Estelle Harris). George starts to struggle with the eerie likeness and imagines that the doll is talking to him. George’s father (Jerry Stiller) eventually destroys it.
The living dolls in Doctor Who
Matt Smith’s the Doctor visits a young boy who is frightened of just about everything. His bedroom is particularly troublesome to him, and the Doctor and his associates, Amy and Rory, quickly learn that there are creepy, life-size dolls living inside the boy’s wardrobe that have manifest from his fears. The scary toys can also turn people into animated dolls.