The horror genre has a long and sporadic history of turning stereotypically un-scary people and things into the stuff of nightmares. Once upon a time, children’s toys such as dolls and Jack-in-the-boxes were harmless forms of fun. But since the movies; Child’s Play, Saw, Demonic Toys and numerous other horror flicks, you will always have that sneaky suspicion that one of the toys you are gifting to your dear beloved child, will come alive via the work of Satan or a ghostly spirit.
On that note, let’s take a look at the different toys, objects and all the other things that were once nice but have since been made terrifying thanks to horror movies and their directors.
The earliest example of a creepy doll in a movie came in 1929 with the release of The Great Gabbo, a film based on an unstable ventriloquist who is, let’s say, less than kind to his assistant. The Great Gabbo’s dummy in the film, Otto, is pretty damn creepy with his forever crossed eyes and turned up smiling mouth. The Great Gabbo, aka The Mad Gabbo engages in constant dialogues/arguments with Otto, at one point he even punches the dummy in the face. Gabbo cannot express any human emotions at all without going through Otto as an intermediary. Despite Otto’s creepiness, the doll is not evil at all, it is the doll’s master who is the monster in this film. The Great Gabbo received pretty negative reviews but it is free to watch on YouTube, it’s worth checking out if you have a spare 90 minutes or so.
What followed ‘The Great Gabbo’ was a whole host of horror movies using a variety of dolls – from dummy’s to manakins – as the films’ main selling points and bone-chilling villains. From Hugo in The Dead of Night to Fats in the 1978 film Magic. Children throughout America were being given nightmares. No longer were the monsters in horror films made up of vampires and wolf-men, now the monsters on their television screens were also sitting in their very own bedrooms, up on the bookcases and in the toy cupboards. The most famous of all the creepy dolls though, must be Chucky from the 1988 film Child’s Play.
Chucky is a doll that harbours a human soul and unfortunately for everybody involved, that soul is pure evil. The soul is that of a serial killer, Charles Lee Ray who deliberately transfers his soul in that of a doll in order to avoid capture by the authorities and so that he can continue his killing spree from inside Chucky the doll. Other more recent killer dolls include Billy who delivers messages on behalf of the serial killer Jigsaw in the first Saw movie (2004). As well as Annabelle, the scary-ass doll from The Conjuring (2013).
Hands up if you are afraid of clowns. According to a poll conducted in 2016, one in three Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 admitted to having experienced cases of coulrophobia at some point in their lifetimes – coulrophobia is the technical term for a fear of clowns. It won’t come as a surprise to you that this fear amongst people has grown ever since clowns begun starring in horror flicks.
The most famous terrifying clown in movie history first began life in the mind of one of the greatest horror writers of all time – Stephen King. Pennywise the Dancing Clown is a character in Stephen King’s novel It. The character It is a cosmic evil who preys upon children and possess the ability to shapeshift to ensure It goes unnoticed by adults. It, often takes the form of a clown known as Pennywise. Pennywise was first seen in the 1990 television adaption of Stephen Kings book and was portrayed by Tim Curry. Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard played the role of Pennywise in the 2017 film adaption of It. Skarsgard will reprise the role in It Chapter Two, which is set to be released in September 2019.
Although Clowns in horror movies are almost always creepy, if you are looking to watch, simply put, some brutal clown violence, look no further than the 2007 film 100 Tears. This one features a serial killer who dresses up as a clown. This film was most likely inspired by real life serial killer John Wayne Gacy who raped, tortured and murdered at least 33 boys and young men. Gacy became known as the Killer Clown due to dressing up as a Pogo or Patches the clown for charity events, clown characters which Gacy himself created.
Not only do horror movie directors bring children’s toys and clowns to life in the most bone chilling ways possible, they also look to the world of mythology in order to scare audiences. Gone are the days of the cute little leprechauns which can be found clutching their little pots of gold from underneath a rainbow like on the popular Rainbow Riches game as well as in many-a Irish folk tale. In 1993, audiences watched actor Warwick Davis play the title role in the film Leprechaun. The film series spanned a total of eight films, six of which included Davis. The leprechaun is a vengeful and murderous one who believes his pot of gold has been stolen by the Redding family.
Granted, this film is more of a comedy horror film rather than a full-on horror, mainly due to Davis’ portrayal of the leprechaun. However, it is nonetheless creepy and reminiscent of Chucky from Child’s play.
Categorised in: Horror Movies
This post was written by Nadia Vella