Toys That Kill – By Danny Runion

With Christmas right around the corner, many people turn to getting toys for their kids. However, parents should be aware that the toys they buy aren’t evil. I’m not talking about the dangerous toy list on the news. I’m talking about toys that are either intent on killing you or stealing your soul like Yu-Gi-Oh merchandise. I’m sure we’ll have a movie in the next year about a collector card game that steals your soul. A demon will use the cards to ensnare souls like the Jack Chick tracts told in the 1980s of how Dungeon and Dragons will swallow your soul…

In 1936, Todd Browning directed Devil Doll. An escaped convict uses a scientist’s formula to create miniature people to kill those that framed him. Several movies like Le Golem: Legend of Prague have similar ideas about people creating beings to protect them or destroy their enemies. The entire idea about creating these creatures is awfully close to Frankenstein. Grave-robbing seems to be a lot more reviled than deadly toys in movies at this point. However, the 30s and into the 40s saw more of the Universal monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman movies being made.

A couple of movies were made in the 50s and 60s with killer toys. However, aliens, giant animals, and killer body parts were more feared monsters than toys. MST3K fans shall remember 1964’s Devil Doll featuring Hugo, the killer ventriloquist’s dummy….As the 60s progressed, the motion picture ratings were established. Movies started to have more violence and gore in them. No one really considered the idea of using killer toys when a psycho killer was a lot easier to work into a script.

In 1975, the made for television movie Trilogy of Terror had that little freaky doll which you just can’t forget. The first truly unforgettable killer toy had graced the screen. The 80s didn’t start to have much in the way of killer toys. Slashers became the watchword as their franchises began. However, the times slowly let a few different movies through by the end of the decade like Black Devil Doll from Hell. After the classic Re-Animator, Stuart Gordon directed Dolls a very tame movie for him about killer dolls stalking people in a mansion. The late 80s saw the birth of one of the most famous killer toys: Chucky.

Child’s Play was released the year before the Puppet Masters series started. I’m sure that Charles Band saw how to jump on the killer toy bandwagon. Full Moon or whatever name Charles Band’s company is known by now has made a large number of the killer toy movies. The time of the homicidal toys had definitely arrived. Is there any better way to celebrate the success of a movie than by making numerous cheap rip-offs of it?

The 90s and today aren’t cranking out the number of killer toy movies as when we could expect 2 or 3 Puppet Master movies a year. Tales From the Hood featured a story that had the Trilogy of Terror type of killer doll running around. Full Moon Entertainment was never able to catch the popularity of Puppet Master series with Blood Dolls or Demonic Toys. However, Full Moon was about to go under like Charles Band’s previous film companies. In fact over the past few years, Chucky has gained enough popularity to keep that franchise going. In fact, Seed of Chucky was just released last month

The Child’s Play Series

Child’s Play

Child’s Play 2

Child’s Play 3

Bride of Chucky

Seed of Chucky

The story of a serial killer transferring his soul into a the season’s hot toy kept changing as Chucky had to pick up the slack from Freddy being shelved as the wisecracking villain. Brad Douriff has a creepy enough voice for Chucky. Unfortunately, Chucky was used outside his movies. Can you imagine professional wrestling having a storyline where Chucky claimed to want to direct and threatened a wrestler?

The Puppet Master Series

Puppet Master

Puppet Master 2

Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge
Puppet Master 4

Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter
Curse of the Puppet Master
Retro Puppet Master

Puppet Master: The Legacy

The puppets start off as evil. After going through a couple of movies killing people, we have a movie set in World War 2. Yes, the puppets are going after the Nazis. Can a movie franchise have evil killer dolls after they battle Movie Nazis? Doesn’t that automatically bump them over to hero status? The puppets eventually were to be used for good.

Demonic Toys
Dollman Versus Demonic Toys
Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys

This was basically another Puppet Master clone that didn’t pan out into a series as hoped. However, Full Moon never met a franchise it couldn’t spin off into more sequels. This series merges 3 movies together: Dollman, Demonic Toys, and Bad Channels. Would Tim Thomerson playing a 12 inch tall version of Jack Deth battling evil toys that kidnapped his girlfriend that was shrunken in the aforementioned Bad Channels be a good idea? Well, the sad thing is that is a deeper plot than Demonic Toys

The killer toy subgenre seems to have gained a lot of popularity with the way Seed of Chucky has been received. In fact, the stigma of having toys that kill seems to have disappeared. Movies have killer video games and evil toys that tie up Kirsten Dunst (not that that’s a bad thing…) In fact, today’s b-horror movies have the killer that has the Chucky vibe. In particular, Jack Frost stole a lot of Chucky’s personality. The later Leprechaun movies keep pushing farther along to the point you almost expect to hear Warwick Davis scream “begorrah, give me the boy.” It has been said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. If so, we should be in for a bumper crop of killer toys.