I have a short story in the new issue of Diabolique magazine and was excited to see that it also includes a good feature story by Brandon Kosters called “Toys of Terror” — a good overview of the appearance of “scary dolls” as baddies in horror film (from Chucky in Child’s Play to Corky in Magic). Kosters cites Freud’s theory of the Uncanny as central to the attraction of this trope: “…children in their early games, make no sharp distinction between the animate and the inanimate, and…they are especially fond of treating their dolls as if they were alive.” He goes on to suggest that it is not only the “return” of these surmounted beliefs from childhood that make the dolls uncanny, but also that these films are “uniquely upsetting because there is an element of betrayal when we surrender to the adult world.” This may account for the violence associated with these particular dolls…I hadn’t really thought about it that way before. Kosters provides a good overview of this classic icon of the uncanny in horror cinema since the 60s.
Kosters, Brandon. “Toys of Terror: Dummies, Demons and Dastardly Dolls.” Diabolique 13 (Nov/Dec 2012): 38-45.