Toys to Kill For, or Toys That Kill You!!! – 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 the game merchandise with their growing online influence that ask for our parental permission. 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 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 last decade, Chucky had gained some popularity to keep that franchise going.

Child’s Play series: Child’s Play, Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3, Bride of Chucky, and 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?

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, and 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 series: Dollman Versus 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 this is a deeper plot than Demonic Toys or most of the slasher movie remake plots…

The killer toy sub-genre seemed to have gained a lot of popularity until the slasher remakes came and wouldn’t leave. Well, the stigma of having toys that kill seems to have returned. 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 bunker crop of killer toys.