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Top 10 Eerie Tales About Creepy Dolls

by Estelle
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Creepy dolls have been making a comeback on the big screen for a while now. Such films include The Boy and Annabelle as well as Chucky in the recently released seventh Child’s Play movie, called Cult of Chucky.

For decades, inanimate objects coming to life have scared the daylights out of people, and as the saying goes, there’s a little bit of truth in each made-up story. The people on this list each have their own tale to tell about creepy dolls. So take your porcelain doll off the shelf, turn your soft toys the other way, and read on . . .

10 Doll In A Painting

Photo credit: William Stoneham

Creepy paintings are bad enough (think The Crying Boy and The Anguished Man), but take a creepy painting that includes a freaky-looking doll and a haunting tale surrounding it, and you have yourself a horror story.

An artist named William Stoneham had a gallery deadline approaching in 1972 and decided to use a poem that his wife had written as inspiration for his next painting. This inspiration led to the creation of a terrifying painting dubbed The Hands Resist Him. While the artwork was meant to symbolize Stoneham’s childhood with his adoptive parents, it ended up freaking people out instead. The painting consists of a boy standing in front of a window with a morbid-looking, vacant-eyed doll standing next to him. As if this wasn’t enough creepiness, there are a multitude of little hands pressed against the window behind the pair.[1]

The painting was sold to actor John Marley at an event arranged by Charles Feingarten. Art critic Henry Seldis attended the event as well. All three men passed away three years apart from each other. This was blamed on the “evil” painting.

The painting was in the spotlight again in 2000, when its then-owners listed it for sale on eBay. The story accompanying the listing was right out of a horror flick. The owners purportedly set up a motion sensor camera in the room where the painting hung, after their four-year old daughter told them that the boy and doll fought with each other and came into her room during the night. The camera allegedly caught the boy climbing out of the painting “under threat.” The sellers also requested assistance in blessing their home once the painting was gone.

9 Annabelle

Photo credit: Natalie Mellon

In 2016, 33-year-old Natalie Mellon from Glasgow was given a 100-year-old doll that her father-in-law’s friend found in his attic. Mellon loves antiques, and even though she found the doll slightly creepy, she still loved it and decided to call it Annabelle as a joke. However, the comedy was short-lived after weird things started happening in Mellon’s house.[2]

One of her friends stayed over one evening and heard a tapping noise outside the bedroom. When she opened the door the next morning, Annabelle was just beyond it. The friend asked if Mellon had put Annabelle there as a prank, but Mellon denied this, saying she was fast asleep at the time her friend heard the noise. Mellon’s four dogs refuse to enter a room when Annabelle is in it. Once, while Mellon was recording a video selfie, she claimed that a knife flew off the shelf behind her, and the cupboard door swang open on its own. It was then that she decided to put Annabelle in the shed and leave her there.

8 Autauga County Swamp Dolls

In 2014, police officers spotted a strange and macabre sight in a swamp in Alabama. Someone had taken 21 dolls, most of them antique porcelain, and stuck them on bamboo stakes. These were placed upright in the swamp. The land where the dolls were discovered and retrieved belonged to a timber company, but they never responded to authorities, who tried to locate them and ask them about the find.[3] Police continued to try and find the culprits but were unsuccessful.

Bear Creek Swamp has had a terrifying repuatation even before the strange doll display was discovered. Visitors have reported hearing voices as well as seeing orbs and even unidentified creatures. There is also a legend stating that the swamp is haunted by a mother forever looking for her lost child. Some even believe a spring close to the swamp is magical and can bestow powers on mortals.

7 Sarita

Photo credit: Oddity Central

In 2017, a Peruvian family shared their terrifying doll experience via YouTube. Ivonne Nunez received a doll from her niece seven years ago. The niece passed away, and Ivonne held on to the doll as a reminder of her. The doll, named Sarita, has blond hair and blue eyes and plays “Our Father” when you press a button on her chest. Soon, however, the recording started playing by itself without anyone touching the doll.[4]

Moreover, the family would wake in the morning and find that Sarita had moved out of her corner during the night. The three siblings in the household would be inexplicably covered in scratches and bruises. The eldest daughter, Angie, claimed that the doll was staring at her from the corner of the room at night. Angie and her two brothers want the doll out of their home, but their mother is reluctant to part with Sarita, as it reminds her of her late niece and sister-in-law, who committed suicide. Instead, she called on an angelologist to cleanse their home. It remains unclear whether the cleansing ritual was successful.

6 Harold

In 2003, a man visiting a flea market spotted an old man with an antique-looking male doll. Intrigued by the doll’s appearance, the man insisted on buying Harold. The old man was very reluctant but eventually sold the doll for $20. As the new owner of Harold walked away, the old man chased after him, saying he had to explain the history of the doll first.[5]

The old man claimed that the doll was given to his own son as a gift and that the boy died shortly afterward. The man left Harold in his son’s room after his death and then heard singing and laughter coming from the room while no living person was in there. The old man also claimed that he tried burning the doll, but it wouldn’t burn.

Harold’s new owner took the doll anyway, only to start having severe migraines two days later. His cat also died, and he started hearing voices and laughter just like the old man claimed to have heard. The man started up a website in which he details all the strange things that have happened to him ever since he brought Harold home. Harold is also now locked in a suitcase. Better safe than sorry.

5 Victorian Doll

My Haunted Doll Attacked My Husband | This Morning

Debbie and Cameron Merrick found fame almost overnight after Debbie purchased three Victorian dolls for £5. When they received their purchase in a box, they heard a strange “swishing” noise coming from it. Not thinking anything of it, they placed the dolls inside their home.

Shortly afterward, the Merricks’ fire alarm started going off continuously for no reason, and Cameron started waking up in the morning with tiny scratches on his leg. One of the dolls even had her necklace disappear mysteriously. It was this doll that the Merricks started suspecting was possessed. Appearing on the This Morning TV show, the couple spoke about their experiences while the doll sat in a rocking chair next to them. Then the chair started rocking on its own on live TV.

After this incident, paranormal investigator Lee Steer bought the doll from the Merricks. However, he, too, started having strange experiences. Lights would flicker, portraits would swing on his walls, and his dad started getting strange scratches on his arm. People who have watched the show segment with the Merricks and followed Steer’s story afterward are highly skeptical of their claims, but this hasn’t stopped Steer from claiming that the doll used a random word app to state that her name is Samantha and that she hates men.[6]

4 Peggy

Photo credit: Week in Weird

In 2015, paranormal investigator Jayne Harris received a doll from a couple who suspected it was causing them to have bad dreams. They had called in the help of a priest, but their situation just worsened, so they decided to get rid of the doll altogether.[7]

Harris invited several mediums to her home to meet Peggy, as the doll is called, and she claimed they all agreed that Peggy was possessed by a restless spirit. As it that wasn’t bad enough, the doll also seems to cause people physical discomfort, including nausea, headaches, and even chest pains.

Mediums believe that Peggy is inhabited by the soul of a woman connected to the Holocaust, who died of chest and breathing problems. It has also been reported that people who look at images or videos of Peggy online experience anxiety attacks and physical illness.

3 Ruby

Photo credit: Week in Weird

The story of Ruby is a bit more sad than creepy. It is said that Ruby was the favorite possession of a little girl a long time ago. The little girl got very sick and eventually died with Ruby in her arms.[8] Ruby was then passed on through generations of the little girl’s family, more often than not ending up in a box in a basement because of her less-than-cute appearance. Also, the family members claimed that Ruby walked around, made weird noises, and, much the same as Peggy, caused nausea and headaches.

Ruby eventually ended up in the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult, where even stranger things started happening. Almost half of all visitors to the museum started taking Ruby in their arms and rocking her and comforting her as you would do with a crying baby. When being made aware of what they were doing, the visitors would be shocked, not having realized their actions. One visitor also found a picture of Ruby on her phone after visiting the museum, and she swears she didn’t take any photos of the doll. It is believed that the little girl who died is still connected to Ruby somehow and is making her presence felt with the help of her favorite doll.

2 Blindfolded Doll

Photo credit: Reddit

In 2014, a strange discovery in Singapore found its way onto Reddit and the rest of the Internet shortly afterward. Residents found a blindfolded doll leaning against a tree. The blindfold had Arabic writing on it, saying bismillah.[9] Speculation immediately had it that the doll must be cursed and would jinx the person who removes its blindfold.

It is also said that the doll’s owner found that it was moving around on its own when she wasn’t home, and when left in a room by itself, the doll would talk in a Malay language and turn its head about. The owner was so freaked out that she blindfolded the doll and left it against the tree very far from her home so that the doll wouldn’t find its way back.

Then the doll went missing from where it was lying against the tree and is yet to be discovered again.

1 Soul-Optional Thai Dolls

Photo credit: EPA

In 2015, residents of Thailand were caught up in a new craze that saw them buying lifelike, creepy dolls and caring for them as if they were real children. The dolls were called luk thep, which means “child angels.” The owners of these dolls would take them to monks to be blessed and also animated, which means they would invite souls to inhabit the dolls.[10]

So serious did the doll-buying become that Thai Smile Airways made airplane seats available for the dolls (at a price of course) and said they could have their own drinks and snacks. Restaurants also offered meals for the dolls at kiddie rates.

The dolls became part of families and siblings to real children, and owners had no problem buying expensive gifts and even jewelry for the dolls. A big driving force behind the craze was the need for good fortune and more money during a time of economic instability. Authorities even stepped in at one point, warning people to be careful buying expensive dolls if they couldn’t really afford them.

Estelle lives in Gauteng, SA.

fact checked by Jamie Frater

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.