The Top Five Most Terrifying Things from Unconventional Sources

Amidst the demons of “Saw 3D” and “Resident Evil: Afterlife” that have been stalking the big screen lately, another fiend recently arose from quite the unexpected source: “Toy Story 3.” Big Baby, that movie’s baby-doll thug, supplies a nightmare-inducing presence that still leads me to shudder any time I see a toy of similar appearance. The drooping eyelid, the teardrop tattoo, the chilling silence—Big Baby might be a Pixar creation, but he’s more creepy brute than cheerful plaything. Inspired by this terrifying turn in a supposed children’s movie, here are my top five bloodcurdling moments that come from more unconventional sources than your standard horror films.

5. Talky Tina in “The Twilight Zone”

“The Twilight Zone” might be consistently creepy, but it very rarely delves into the truly frightening. Not so in “Living Doll,” the classic 1963 episode in which a cranky stepfather protests the present of a new doll for his stepdaughter by trying to get rid of the toy. Bad move. The doll, Talky Tina, morphs into a stealthy slayer, telling the stepfather, “My name is Talky Tina, and I’m going to kill you.” After a series of unsuccessful attempts by the stepfather to destroy Tina, the doll causes her enemy to trip down the stairs and die. Chucky—the doll that gains a serial killer’s soul in 1988’s “Child’s Play”—might be the standard in murderous toys, but Tina deserves equal credit for her chilling inscrutability.

4. The pale man in “Pan’s Labyrinth”

While “Pan’s Labyrinth” is ostensibly a dark fairy tale, the gangly, eyes-in-hands Pale Man elevates the film to pure horror—especially for the poor fairy whose head serves as a gruesome snack for the monster.

3. The dollhouse in “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”

The Midnight Society’s fireside tales in “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” rarely led any pre-teen to issue even the slightest shiver of fear. However, 1994’s “The Tale of the Doll Maker” proved uncannily horrifying and scarring as young Susan’s skin turns to porcelain and her arm falls out when she gets trapped in a creepy attic dollhouse. Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I maintain that this episode terrorized me as a child—and maybe even a little to this day.

2. Trinity’s second kill in “Dexter”

Modern crime serials frequently encounter the problem of crafting unique and interesting deaths for their victims each week. “Dexter”—which tends to focus on the disconcerting rather than horrifying—has yet to be plagued by this difficulty, as vividly evidenced by the Trinity Killer’s homicide in the terrifically terrifying fourth season episode “Blinded by the Light.” Trinity killing a young mother to continue his murder cycle is unsettling; forcing her to jump off a building of her own will is downright petrifying.

1. The boat ride in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”

Gene Wilder serenely reciting such lines as “Not a speck of light is showing so the danger must be growing. Are the fires of hell a-glowing? Is the grisly reaper mowing?” while he leads a psychedelic boat ride through a tunnel along the chocolate river—complete with repulsive images projected on the seemingly spinning walls? Seems less like a lighthearted children’s movie than a bad—and absolutely nightmarish—trip.

—Ali R. Leskowitz is an outgoing Campus Arts editor. She really doesn’t like dolls.

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