When thinking of killer dolls in horror movies, there is always one that comes to mind. He has spanned generations and withstood the test of time through both sequels, television spin-offs, and remakes. He is the king of foul mouth killer dolls. He is Chucky. Chucky, the main antagonist of the Child’s Play franchise, first stepped out of the box in 1988 and has maintained relevance in pop culture even today. The franchise consists of seven films, and a remake that was released in 2019.
In the 1988 original, Chucky the doll was born due to a voodoo ritual performed by killer Charles Lee Ray, who is played by Brad Dourif. After suffering a gunshot wound in a police chase, Ray transfers his soul into a nearby “Good Guys” doll. Despite the plot of the movie being entirely fictional, one aspect holds true — Child’s Play is based on a true story.
Robert the Doll
Cursed dolls are no stranger to the horror genre and are often where some movie viewers draw the line when it comes to films they’re featured in. The earliest creepy doll to be featured in a horror film dates back to 1929, and its echoes can be heard from Chucky to Annabelle. All seems to be fun and games until these hauntings reach into real-life nightmares. Robert the Doll’s story originated in 1906, when he was gifted to a young boy named Robert Eugene Otto who resided in Key West, Florida. The stories surrounding young Otto’s acquisition of the doll have varying myths, however, the young boy’s love for Robert was undeniable and even carried on until his death. According to Atlas Obscura, Robert is Key West’s most cursed object. Many myths and legends have circled around Robert, and his connection to the beyond. Yet, Robert’s story starts in the Otto’s family home. As cited by MamaM!a, the family began to hear strange giggles and footsteps in the middle of the night, and those who passed the house claimed to see the doll moving in and out of the window frame.
Robert lived with Otto until his death and then was turned over to the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida. Those in love with the strange and unusual flock to the museum to pay Robert a visit, and according to the museum’s curator Cori Convertito, Robert receives plenty of fan mail. Atlas Obscura also cites that those who do not ask permission to take Robert’s photograph or are outwardly rude to him have experienced a string of bad luck, so much so that these folks write apology letters to Robert.
Birth of a Major Franchise
As outlandish as the franchise may be, Child’s Play and the big bad Chucky, has earned its keep among the top horror slashers. Traces of Robert the Doll can be seen sprinkled throughout the first Child’s Play film. Certain instances include the footsteps left in powder, the running through the halls, and Andy’s (played by Alex Vincent) whispered conversations before Chucky is truly revealed. However, the design for Chucky was inspired by the My Buddy dolls that were introduced by toy conglomerate Hasbro in the late-80s. The line even launched a doll called Kid Sister that was marketed towards girls, but these were not the inspiration for Tiffany in the later films. Chucky has toyed with the horror genre for the last 34 years, and it seems that there is no stopping the doll’s popularity. The franchise houses eight films, and a television series on Syfy, whose second season is set to air October 5, 2022, and will see the return of Jennifer Tilly and several other characters from the franchise. Chucky, as unthreatening as he may seem, will forever sit among the greats of horror slashers and killer dolls.