Whilst we all know how toys bring entertainment, education and enlightenment to children across the globe, horror filmmakers have cottoned onto the fact that a few of them, in certain lights, can be bloody creepy.
With Halloween upon us, and DVDs of The Exorcist, Halloween and The Blair Witch Project being dusted off for another spooky night of terror, ToyNews takes a look at the greatest toys ever to grace the horror genre.
1. Good Guy doll (Child’s Play series)
While Toy Story made us hope toys really could come to life, Child’s Play made us pray it never happens. He’s the most notorious doll to have ever been embraced by the soul of a serial killer. His name is Chucky, and he’s your friend to the end – which in most cases arrives sooner than later. First appearing in Child’s Play back in 1988, Chucky has gone on to terrorise folk in five sequels.
2. Ball (The Changeling)
To most, the only conceivable way for a ball to appear terrifying is if one was hurtling towards your nether regions. Well, credit to Peter Medak for creating a new vein of ball-related terror in this much imitated scene from 1980 classic haunted house movie The Changeling. The film follows John Russell, a man who moves into a creepy old mansion to get away from the world following the tragic death of his wife and daughter. While there, all manner of paranormal activity kicks up a right stink, the highlight being a red rubber ball that just won’t leave poor John alone.
3. Toy clown (Poltergeist)
Clowns are creepy at the best of times, let alone when they’re in toy form and appear to have a sinister agenda. Poltergeist co-producer Steven Spielberg did for the thriving toy clown market what he did for swimming with Jaws in this scene from the 1982 horror movie. It resulted in one of the film’s greatest jump scares, and got the jump on Pennywise from It by a whole eight years (four if we’re talking about Stephen King’s book).
4. Doll’s house (The Awakening)
This 1921-set spine-tingler from 2001’s The Awakening sees Florence Cathcart, a woman making her living exposing supernatural hoaxes, travel to an all boys school to solve the mystery behind some ghostly sightings. The toy in this particular case is a doll’s house replica of the school she is staying in. After a chase with the ghoul leads her to the pint-sized home, she receives a shock when peering through its tiny windows.
5. Danny’s tricycle (The Shining)
Okay. The tricycle itself might not be terrifying, but it is one of the most iconic images from one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Without it, young Danny might not have stumbled across the twins, or Room 237 and its creepy OAP resident. Not to mention it would’ve been knackering to walk the corridors of the Overlook Hotel without the aid of three wheels.
6. Billy the Puppet (Saw)
In this day and age, if we want to tell someone something, there are only a few ports of call. Most people e-mail, text or pick up a phone. Some people send letters or postcards. A few are perservering with carrier pigeons, while Harry Potter sends an owl. And one of horror’s more complicated characters favours sending a creepy puppet riding a bike. Each to their own. Yes, Saw’s Jigsaw likes to send Billy the Puppet on his merry way to deliver, what for most people, is probably the worst news they’ll hear that week. Sounds cowardly, but that way, it saves him the frankly awkward task of telling someone they are going to have to gouge their own eye out to prevent a piece of headgear slamming their head shut like venus flytrap. And while the puppet normally opens with ‘Hello. I want to play a game’, what follows rarely results in someone getting £200 for passing Go. (In terms of videos, it was difficult to find one safe for work. So instead, why deliver your own awkward news with a home-made Billy, thanks to the handy tutorial above.)
7. Ghostface mask (Scream)
The first ‘dress-up/role-play’ item on our list (go with it) and it’s a doozy. Although upon watching the first cut of the movie, Bob Weinstein called the mask ‘idiotic’, he soon came round to the idea and it has since been the mask of choice for a whole range of psychos in Wes Craven’s Scream franchise (not to mention Scary Movie). Based on Munch’s Scream painting, the Ghostface mask has become a Halloween favourite, so expect people to don the disguise to walk the streets tonight. And if the phone rings, be sure know your horror movie trivia.
8. Voodoo Stick Doll (The Blair Witch Project)
The voodoo stick doll seen in The Blair Witch Project is a perfect fit for retailers looking to stock a wooden toy within the pocket money price range. For parents strapped for cash this Christmas, take a leaf from the Blair Witch and make your own fun with some sticks and string. Hell, stick a few of them around the garden, send the kids out to look for them armed with a video camera and wait for $248,300,000 to roll in. It worked back in 1999, it might work again.
9. Puzzle box (Hellraiser)
Solved a Rubik’s Cube and stuck for things to do? Look no further than the puzzle box seen in Hellraiser. Toy safety experts would have kittens due to the fact that hooked chains tear into his flesh of whoever solves it, before opening up a portal to the realm of the Cenobites, who then subject the player to the extremes of sadomasochism. On second thoughts, best stick with the Rubik’s Cube.
10. Annabelle (The Conjuring/Annabelle)
Dolls tend to be creepy, especially the old ones with porcelain heads. Which is why Annabelle stole the show when she appeared in last year’s horror hit, The Conjuring. This doll loves nothing more than move around the house unaided, stare into the distance and, like any self-respecting horror movie icon, she’s never more at home than swaying gently in a rocking chair. She recently returned to the big screen in her own movie, but the less said about that, the better.