Friday, May 1, 2009

Disturbing Clowns and Dolls

Thanks Devin for the compliment on my last review about how I tell you “if you like this movie, then you’ll like…” I decided to start a regular post about “types” of horror movies so folks could look for movies within that type that they’re attracted to. I built up my lists years ago when I wanted to find the ultimate horror collection and be able to find a movie for any mood.

This entry is “Disturbing Clowns and Dolls” (come on, don’t deny we all have that cringing fear). As “coulrophobia” (fear of clowns) or “pediophilia”(fear of dolls), are universal themes, I think these movies will thoroughly frighten everyone.

Now, I know I’m not going to get all the ones that you’ve probably seen or love, but these are ones that I’ve seen several times each and feel confident satisfy this genre without being too awfully done. They all represent a wide swath of the genre.

“Clownhouse”(1989): A Victor Salva movie more known for the fact that the director was later arrested for molestation of one of the young stars who also did the movie “Powder.” Nevertheless, it’s genuinely terrifying when a clown torments some brothers left home alone.

“Tourist Trap” (1979): This should probably be put into one of my obscure movie reviews. It’s very unsettling and campy fun. With Chuck Connors as the scary guy, it was good casting on their part. He definitely is freaky. If you have a fear of mannequins this teens-broken-down-in-the-middle-of-nowhere film is your ticket.

“It” (1990): Stephen King’s made-for-tv miniseries was a hit! It had a great cast and involved evil taking the form of a clown trying to tempt children to join him “down there.” Yikes! It drags along a bit, but the storytelling is like a campfire tale and when the action starts, it’s pretty riveting.

“Dead Silence” (2007): Got a problem with ventriloquist dolls? How about hundreds of them? This was a fantastically made movie, one of my top 10 fav’s. The mood and atmosphere and creepy music are genuinely the old-time feeling (60s/70s) of horror tension. It’s not easy to do this in a nowadays setting, but this was done beautifully and if you can watch this in the dark—you’re brave.

“House of Wax” (remake 2005): I didn’t put the original because I think today’s viewers might like something a bit more sinister and edgy. (although Vincent Price did an amazing original version, as well). I don't know many folks who aren't scared of wax figures in museums.

“Funhouse” (1981): If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you stayed in a funhouse after it closes, these four teens did. It’s superiorly creepy what torments them inside as they are locked into an all-night hell. A very late 70s feel to it, as well.

“Magic” (1978): There’s loads of ventriloquist-doll-gets-out-of-hand movies out there (has to be a universal fear). This one with Anthony Hopkins is genuinely creepy and unsettling. If you ever wondered where the puppet stops and the owner begins, this is the one to see.

“Child’s Play” (1986): Chucky, now there’s a doll with an attitude. Most everyone has seen or heard of him, but he’s worth mentioning for in-your-face naughtiness.

Some lesser players worth mentioning are; “The Clown at Midnight” about a murderous clown in an old opera house, “Poltergeist” with a clown doll (a combo of both clown and doll—mercy!) in which a boy is dragged under his bed by the clown doll, “Trilogy of Terror” with a zuni fetish doll terrorizing a woman in her apartment. And, if you have a twisted sense of humor and like SciFi stuff, “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” is ideal.

There are many more I might have neglected in my desire to represent the full spectrum of types of dolls and clowns. If you know of any others you’d like to tell me about, please comment.


  1. Every since I watched "It", clowns scare me. I'm not a big fan of realistic dolls or ventriloquist dolls either. I saw this movie called "Trilogy of Terror" and in one of the stories was a creepy little voodoo/tiki type doll. This doll or statue came to life when its necklace came off and terrorized the woman who owned it. It took her mind and body over at the end of the story. This movie really scared me. Every since this movie along with "Chuckie" and other movies of live dolls, I hate being around them and are leary of them coming to life. Crazy I know, but I wouldn't let my daughter display her dolls because of my silly fears. I swear one of them was checking me out, lol. I'm going to enjoy reading about the different types of horror flicks. Looking forward to the next one.

  2. This was another really good post. Clowns and dolls have always scared me. Now that my wife and I have Netflix, I'm going to try to get as many of these as I can.

  3. Julie;
    Totally agree--"Trilogy of Terror" started my fear of the whole thing and then "Magic" just firmed it up. I remember spending the night at a friend's house in the happy suburbs (compared to my scary mansion)and I thought I'd get a good night's sleep, only she made her ventriloquist doll collection sleep on her other twin bed and wouldn't remove them. I spent the entire night staring them down in a cold sweat. My dream writer's office once I sell the first novel will have a wall lined with crumbling scary old baby dolls and overhead rusted farm implements swaying on a chain... Probably a clown painting too. Yup!

    Glad you liked it. Next one will be stalkers/predators. I get Netflix too. I should probably do a post just about what's available on Netflix instant view lately. They've had some good ones on there. Definitely start putting some of these into your queue. If you want more specific details about any of them, just ask. Usually if someone names a movie they loved, I can name at least three more they'll want to see.

  4. I have watched horror movies with clowns and also dolls. I have never really understood the fear people have of clowns. I have never heard of anyone afraid of dolls before. Another good article.

  5. I've never liked clowns, they are the creepiest ever! Not a big fan of dolls either.
    I totally remember "Trilogy of Terror" I think Karen Black was in the one with the freaky voodoo doll. I totally loved it