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Creepy Dolls: 5 Reasons You Should Fear Them

Updated on December 2, 2012

What's so Scary About a Doll? Plenty

Dolls disturb me. In fact, if it were up to me, all of them would be rounded up and dumped in the ocean (with the exception of modern Barbies and action figures, which don't bother me as much). The only trouble is, then I would troubled by the thought that somewhere in the world there's an island inhabited by dolls that have washed ashore. *shudder*

I'm obviously not alone in this feeling. Judging by the number of horror movies and Halloween props involving creepy dolls, this is something that gets under the skin of a lot of people. The question is, why? How is it that something designed to bring joy to children can be so effective at scaring the hell out of people? Well, I've studied the issue and come up with five reasons for this phenomenon. Read on to find out what they are.

Reason #1: They're Uncanny - It's a Freudian Thing

In the early 1900s, the German psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch came up with the concept of the Uncanny to describe something that seems both familiar and alien at the same time. That sounds like a perfect description of dolls, which are designed to be cute, beautfiul, and/or realistic - but have no spark in their eyes. As a matter of fact, in explaining his theory Jentsch cited a clockwork doll from an eerie short story called The Sandman.

Sigmund Freud would later expand on this theory, and eventually it would become the basis for the idea of the Uncanny Valley in robotics. Essentially this hypothesizes that people tend to be disturbed by things that are designed to look realistically human, but don't quite pass the test. Again, it's not hard to see how dolls fit in here. Some of the creepiest dolls are the most realistic.


Technical term for the fear of dolls.

Creepy-Ass Dolls (click to view product page)
Creepy-Ass Dolls (click to view product page)

Creepy-Ass Dolls

If you like looking at scary dolls - or want to torment someone who hates them - then you might want to check out Creepy-Ass Dolls. This coffee table book is full of pictures of antique dolls accompanied by humorous commentary from the author, Stacey Leigh Brooks. She gives them names and personalities that suggest the sort of hideous things they will do to you if left unattended.

Hard to believe these little nightmares were ever considered appropriate for kids. I can only hope they're locked away somewhere now.

Creepy Doll Video

Reason #2: You've Seen Them Kill Before - Scary Dolls Have Become a Staple of the Horror Industry

Even if you've never been spooked by an antique doll, you've probably seen horror movies, TV shows, and even actual dolls that exploit the innate creepiness of these things. When they think of evil dolls, most people probably envision Chucky. However, there are a whole host of awful dolls that have come before and since.

Trailer for Dolls (1987)

Reason #3: They're Mystical - Dolls Have a Long History as Ritual Objects

Dolls date back to at least 2000 BC, and were quite possibly the first ever children's toy. However, from very early times they were also used in magic and religious rituals, often representing deities. This ritual use of dolls spans many different cultures - from ancient Egypt and Greece to pre-Colonial America.

Even today, many people assign mystical properties to certain types of dolls. The most famous are voodoo dolls, which can be used as an effigy (physical representation) of someone you don't like. Sticking pins into it is supposed to cause pain and misfortune to your enemy.

With that sort of background, it's no wonder that people regard dolls as being sinister.

Living Dead Dolls - Gretel (click to view product page)
Living Dead Dolls - Gretel (click to view product page)

Living Dead Dolls

You don't have to go antiquing to find an evil doll anymore. While they're not exactly the same thing as those older dolls, horror dolls are plenty creepy - they're made that way. The Living Dead Dolls are some of the most popular, featuring characters like Sabbatha Blood and Beelzebub. They released their 24th series of deranged and twisted playthings in 2012.

Oddly enough, while I would never want to have an old, unintentionally creepy doll in my home, I think these are pretty cool. At least these evil dolls aren't pretending to be harmless toys.

Reason #4: The Fear is Deep Seated - Your Aversion to Dolls Stems From Your Childhood

The experiences we have as children often haunt us as adults. I can remember staying at my grandma's house as a kid and being weirded out by her collection of antique dolls. Sometimes I even had to sleep in the same room with them (of course, I didn't really sleep with those dead-eyed horrors facing me down). Probably has something to do with my current fear of dolls (just a guess).

Baby Laugh-a-Lot Commercial

Clowns vs. Dolls

Clowns are another thing that are supposed to be fun, but are actually freaky as all get out. Question is, are they better or worse than dolls?

Which is creepier - Clowns or Dolls?

Reason #5: They Have Every Reason to Hate Us - If They Could Think and Feel, Dolls Would Surely be Pissed

The allure of dolls is that they look human and thus inspire human feelings of affection and empathy. The flip side is that it's a little disturbing to see them in a state of neglect - dirty, broken, maybe even dismembered. It's like you're witnessing an atrocity against an actual person. Personally, I don't even like to see my daughter bend her baby doll's arm the wrong way. It gives me the chills.

Of course, many people have no such problems. In fact, they enjoy mutilating and abusing dolls. If you're one of these people, you'd better watch your back. The dolls may return the favor one day, Talky Tina-style.

The Twilight Zone: Talky Tina

Are you creeped out by dolls?

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    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 5 years ago

      The only thing creepier than Zuni fetish doll is Zuni fetish Karen Black.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The Creepy Old House

      In a creepy old house I

      found a creepy old doll.

      I bent to pick it up

      and boy did I take a fall.

      I stood up had a lump

      on my head, but

      otherwise alright.

      I looked out the window,

      day had turned to night.

      I looked and looked but

      did not find the doll.

      I turned to leave and there

      it was hanging by itâs neck

      against the wall.

      Itâs creepy smile seemed to say,

      âCome and play with me my friend.

      We can play forever

      without any end.â

      To get out of this house

      I ran for the door.

      But there was no way out.

      It was not there any more.

      Through the window I

      threw a heavy bust.

      The window smashed and

      there was a ton of dust.

      I looked out the window

      but there was no ground,

      we seemed to be

      floating in air.

      I said, âNo, no

      this just isnât fair!â

      I felt a hand upon

      my shoulder, I let

      out a scream.

      I heard someone say

      âWake up honey

      your having a dream.â

      I opened my eyes

      to see my husbands

      concerned face.

      I breathed a sigh of

      relief, I was in

      a safe place.

      My eyes grew heavy

      and as I was returning

      to sleep, I heard

      my husband say,

      âGo back to sleep

      my friend,

      then you

      can play forever

      without any end.â

      Shirley Smothers