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Introduction | Reviews | My Grandmother and the Grimmer | Creepy Dolls

Cuckoo Song

Creepy Dolls

In Cuckoo Song, eleven-year-old Triss owns a beautiful bisque doll named Angelina. One day, to our heroine's horror, the doll starts to move in her hands, speak and then scream…

After reading the book, a number of people confessed to me that they sometimes found dolls a bit eerie. So why do some dolls set our skin crawling?

Creepy blonde doll in chairSome say it's because their not-quite-humanness puts them in the “uncanny valley”. They resemble people, but people gone badly wrong. They look like us, but they don't blink, they're the wrong size, and their flesh is cold and hard where ours is warm and soft. We can see their joints, we can see that they're things. But we can't treat them as nice, safe things because… they look like us.

Bisque dollPerhaps it's the thought of those perfectly unchanging faces turning to look at us, or those little joints clicking as they take one stilted step after another…

Some antique dolls have a distant, superior air. Their porcelain or bisque faces are beautiful, in a cherub-cheeked, cherry-lipped way, but their expressions are cold. You get the impression that they wouldn't care whether we lived or died. (Photo by Gail Frederick, here.)

Two creepy dolls grungeBroken dolls can be chilling too, in a 'back from the grave' kind of way.

Dead of NightAnd then there are ventriloquist dummies. Their weird, articulated jaws tends to fall open, making them look dead. This one from the film Dead of Night (1945) looks sinister enough even before it starts moving and talking without help…

I think I'll stick to teddies.