For as long as I can remember I have been creeped out by the entire concept of dolls coming to life. I refused to watch Child’s Play, disliked ventriloquism and even viewed Jim Henson’s The Christmas Toy with suspicion. Muppets were just barely acceptable. And yet I owned (and apparently still own, but more on that later) many, many creepy dolls. I cannot explain this.
The first creepy fucking doll to introduce you to is Julie. I got her for Christmas in 1987; she was the thing I wanted beyond everything else that year. I remember that present opening was drawn out to levels that I still think were sadistic. My brother and I opened all our presents and our dad and his mom told us there were no more gifts. We were both sad, because neither of us had gotten the thing we wanted most. I still remember the crushing disappointment – and the moment of elation when one more gift for each of us was brought out. And there she was. Julie. The most fucking terrifying robotic monstrosity ever. I loooved her.
Julie was interactive. If you said her name she would blink slowly and say, “Yes?” But it was creepier than that, all soft and attentive. It actually makes me a little nervous recalling it, even though I adored her as a child. You would say one of the “secret words” and she would respond accordingly. Like, if you said “melody,” she would sing. She also noticed if it was bright or dark, if you picked her up, if it got hot or cold, and if you squeezed her she would laugh and say it tickled. She’d blink occasionally and her mouth would move when she spoke – and every facial move was accompanied by the soft whirring and grinding of the gears under her rubber skin. Even in the commercial’s soft focus Julie is a creepy little bitch.
Eventually I outgrew Julie and she ended up in the garage on the coast, where she ended up mildewing to the point of nonfunction. At some point I went out to find her and her eyes had turned white from the mold. That in and of itself may have tipped the balance into terror for me. In fact, the main reason I’ve never tried to buy myself one of these (you can find them on eBay) is because I suspect they may have a hive mind and that the one I let get moldy might want revenge.
The second creepy fucking doll I want to share with you tonight was named Emma. Or at least, that’s what I named her. Hours of Googling around and I was unable to locate a brand name. She was a hard plastic doll about 13″ tall, with red hair and blue eyes. She was the first doll I had with freckles which I adored, and she had a pretty, pretty lavender frilled dress with a prissy pinafore. Just my style at that age. She wasn’t a doll I’d seen on TV and she didn’t have a tie-in cartoon or anything, so I never honestly considered that she was (of course) a mass-produced doll and lots of other people had her. She was just Emma, and I had her until I was in my twenties. Then, a few weeks ago, I watched Poltergeist II: The Other Side.
I was pleasantly surprised that the movie wasn’t as bad as I’d heard, but the moment I saw the edges of her dress I knew that was my Emma doll in the corner. Slightly blurry, right behind Carol Ann. Everything from the dress to the oddly crooked bangs to the one eye that was slightly askew.
And then she turns to the camera. And slowly blinks.
And now I have to go have a drink, because the third Creepy Fucking Doll? Is in my house right now. Worse, it’s in my son’s bed. Meet Anne.
I found this soft doll at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store not long before Christmas. She immediately reminded me of Anne of Green Gables and I had intended to give her (along with at least one of the Anne books) to a friend’s daughter. Long before I had a chance to wrap her up, E wanted to play with her. Pretty soon he was calling her “Ahhnn” and pretending to feed her, and that was the end of that gift idea. He regularly toes her around, along with Eh-moh and Woof-woof, his other favorites (a de-tickled Tickle-Me Elmo and a stuffed dog, respectively).
I don’t care that my son has a doll. I don’t think I’m progressive for giving him one. I don’t think it’s creepy because he’s enamored of her, or because he talks to her and hugs her sometimes. No. In fact, I was pretty fond of Anne too, until E and I were playing with his flashcard app, which is the best thing ever for really boring places like restaurants and waiting rooms. We were flipping though the “things” section and there was nothing remarkable about it. Until…
It’s the exact. Same. Doll. Worse, Googling around has resulted in only one picture of the doll – a stock photo. I can find no manufacturing information on her and there are no tags on her. It’s just…it’s just fucking creepy. I tried to brush it aside. But then today. Oh today. Back to the flashcard app, this time in line at the store. Numbers section this time. Should be safe. Then E said “Fie! Ahhn! Fie!” And lo and behold…
There’s no taking Anne away from him now, and no, I don’t actually believe she is anything but fabric (and fairly cheap fabric at that) and stuffing. I am not afraid of her or worried about my son playing with her. But goddamn if she isn’t fucking creepy.