Jewish World Review August 1, 2013/ 25 Menachem-Av, 5773
Dolls can be very scary
By Barry Koltnow
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) After my mock interview with the "real" Lone Ranger and Tonto, I heard from a new reader who identified himself as a writer who fashioned himself an expert on the Masked Man.
He took me to task for trying to pull a fast one on my readers by claiming to interview people who were more dead than alive. He said he read the introduction to my interview more than once, thinking that perhaps he missed the clues that would point to a spoof or a tongue-in-cheek article, rather than a fact-based interview.
I responded that I did not think that I had to spell it out when I was offering an interview with two fictional characters who lived only on the printed page, television and in the movies. I never said I was interviewing two actors who played the characters. I was interviewing two people who were not real, so I had to admit that I assumed that readers would realize that it was indeed tongue-in-cheek.
To clear the air before we start today's column particularly for that Lone Ranger expert, and others who might not be accustomed to my sense of humor I want to emphasize that the following anecdote is true. It is not tongue-in-cheek, and you can tell that it's not tongue-in-cheek because it doesn't make me look very good. In fact, my distorted self-image of being a tough, virile stud may be irreparably damaged by telling this story.
Once in a while, a movie studio will send packages to my home. The packages usually contain press notes from a movie that I'm about to write about or a trailer of the movie in question or inexpensive promotional trinkets. My wife picked up a package that was delivered recently, and asked if I would mind if she opened it. I nodded and she hastily unwrapped the package. Her eyes lit up. "Oh, look, it's a little doll," she said.
She held up the doll, and I ran out of the room in a panic.
"What's wrong?" she called out to her squeamish husband.
"That's Annabelle," I shouted from behind the safety of a locked door.
"It's just a doll, you chicken," my sensitive and understanding wife replied.
"That's what you think." I said.
After her laughter subsided, I explained that the Annabelle doll plays a significant role in "The Conjuring," a new film that I consider one of the scariest movies ever made in Hollywood. It is a story taken from the archives of famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Consider this: "The Amityville Horror" was based on one of their cases, and the Warrens insisted that the case that inspired "The Conjuring" was much worse.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play the Warrens, who are approached during the 1970s to expel from a Rhode Island farmhouse the dark spirits that go bump in the night. These are really bad demons, as if there are good demons. They're so bad that even the demon union is afraid of them
Anyway, the movie starts off with the resolution of another case handled by the Warrens, and that's when we meet the Annabelle doll. This movie is not even about the doll, and she still scared me.
I don't know what it is about horror films with evil dolls, but they have creeped me out as long as I can remember. Vampires don't bother me, zombies don't bother me and chainsaw-wielding maniacs don't bother me. But put a creepy doll in a movie and I'm outta here.
For those of us who love movies but suffer from a creepy doll phobia, the genesis of all creepy dolls was a 1962 episode of the classic TV series "Twilight Zone." It was called "The Dummy," and starred Cliff Robertson as a ventriloquist who worked with a doll named Willie. This not only started my fear of movie dolls, but it didn't help the public view of ventriloquists, either.
People love ventriloquist acts, but they harbor deep-seated suspicions about entertainers who juggle multiple personalities for a living.
In 1978, the second shoe dropped on the neck of ventriloquism with the film "Magic." Directed by Richard Attenborough, it starred Anthony Hopkins and his dummy Fats.
I never looked at ventriloquists the same way after that film. I enjoy a good ventriloquist but I wouldn't turn my back on any dummy.
Finally, there is the 1988 horror film "Child's Play," which gave the world Chucky, a young boy's doll possessed by a killer. For many people, the word "creepy" begins and ends with Chucky. The murderous little doll spawned four sequels, and started a cottage industry of psychotic killer dolls on the big screen.
I am a grown man so I am not afraid of Chucky. Chucky is not the boss of me. I wish I could say the same of Annabelle..
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