Top 10 Miniature Killers

Puppets, marionettes, killer kids, mythical midgets, re-animated killers in cookie form, they all have the potential to be horrifying. And hilarious. A recent conversation about German Troma flick Killer Condom inspired me to take some time out recently to compile a list of my favourite Miniature Killers from some classic and questionable horror movies and this is what I came up with. Some have been included because they deserve a place in the annals of celluloid history, others simply because they make me laugh for all the wrong reasons. Obviously, I couldn’t ignore the legendary Charles Band’s obsession with all things tiny and terrifying so inevitably I had to include one (or five, yes five) of his production credits. Believe me, the decision to omit Doll Graveyard, Demonic Toys, Dolls, Evil Bong, Gingerdead Man 2 and any of the Puppetmaster sequels was not taken lightly. As for the rest, they belong on the list for both their power to scare and to induce riotous laughter in equal measure. In no discernible order, here they are. Enjoy!

Leprechaun (1993)

LeprechaunWarwick Davies in a rubbery leprechaun costume, a pre-Friends fame Jennifer Aniston and a plot that involves an actual pot o’ gold are the ingredients for this particular brand of miniature madness. A defining moment of 90’s ‘so bad, it’s good’ horror and spawning 5 sequels including the woeful Leprechaun In Space and Leprechaun In The Hood, the legacy of this 1993 opus cannot be ignored.

Puppetmaster (1989)

The first of the many Charles Band titles on this list, and arguably the best, Puppetmaster centres on the lonely, old puppet maker who crafts and gives life to five creepy puppets; Tunneller, Jester, Ms. Leach, Blade and Pinhead. Years later and a group of psychics investigating the suicide of a colleague happen upon the puppets and unwittingly become their targets. Featuring some genuinely creepy puppets, some dodgy stop motion effects and a heap of puppets-eye-view-cam, Puppetmaster is a classic and deservedly so.

Childs Play (1988)

Childs PlayUsing a voodoo spell, mortally wounded serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) transplants his soul into a nearby doll. When little Andy Barclay receives said doll as a present, he has no idea of the murderous terror that has just landed in his life. Like the previous two movies on this list, Childs Play is notable for having spawned several sequels but unlike the other two, the franchise was at the heart of countrywide video nasty witch-hunt in the early 90’s. Sneering, wise-cracking doll Chucky is a creation of absolute genius.

Gingerdead Man (2005)

Another of Charles Band’s efforts, The Gingerdead Man is awful, but in that inexplicably good way. Any movie featuring Gary Busey as both a manic serial killer and a gingerbread man that’s been animated via some cursed seasoning and kills everyone in its path is ok by me. Throw in some truly, memorably shit dialogue (“Eat me, you punk bitch!”) and you have yourself the perfect movie for a boozy night in with some equally immature friends.

Critters (1986)

CrittersFeaturing the combined immense acting talents of M. Emmett Walsh, Dee Wallace Stone and Lin Shaye, Critters is a whole heap of fun. A sleepy farm in Kansas becomes the target of a horde of furry, flesh eating extra terrestrials and only a couple of bounty hunters can help. Critters is a perfect example of the kind of enjoyably silly b-movies that the 80’s were responsible for.

Ghoulies (1985)

More 80’s than Don Johnson rocking a pastel pink suit jacket, Ghoulies is about a bored yuppie who, at a party in his mansion, decides to use dark magic in an attempt to harness the power of some mythical creatures. Unfortunately the creatures have other ideas and once summoned are intent on killing everyone at the party. Unlike many titles on this list, Ghoulies was intentionally played for laughs and gets full marks for not taking itself seriously.

Blood Dolls (1999)

Blood DollsWhat more could you want from a film but Phil Fondacaro wearing a tuxedo and an eye patch? Killer dolls, you say? Ok, and I’ll even throw in an eccentric millionaire, an all female rock group and some mild S&M. Happy? You should be, because Blood Dolls is the ultimate in good/bad horror. Truly camp and full of accidental laughs, every Charles Band/ Full Moon fan should own this wondrous movie.

Magic (1978)

Anthony Hopkins plays Corky, a magician and ventriloquist whose dummy Fats takes on a life of its own and decides to make his masters life a little more hellish. When Corky retreats to a mountain resort in the hope of revisiting a lost love, Fats follows and mayhem ensues. Magic is a, sadly, often forgotten slice of psychological horror with an excellent performance from Hopkins and a truly nightmarish dummy.

It’s Alive (1974)

It's AliveLarry Cohen’s tale of a woman who gives birth to a bloodthirsty infant that kills when it becomes frightened is one of my personal favourites. It was followed by a worthy sequel in 1978 and a piss-poor third instalment in 1987, not to mention a thoroughly dire and pointless remake in 2008. A slow-burn movie that builds some incredible suspense and has a truly tragic climax, It’s Alive is movie magic.

Troll (1986)

Troll sucks, there are no two ways about it. It sucks so much that it actually turns a corner somewhere and comes back around to being enjoyable. It generated a sequel so bad that there’s now a documentary about it entitled Best Worst Movie. One of its main characters is a potential boy wizard named Harry Potter. Sonny Bono gets turned into a plant and Michael Moriarty attempts to out-act every other actor, ever. It’s also the second movie on the list to star Phil Fondacaro, this time as the titular Troll. It’s quite simple folks, I love this movie, and you should too.

And so ends our journey into tiny terrors and maniacal midgets. The sheer number of sequels spawned by our top ten alone suggests that audiences will always have a fascination with little things that kill. Here’s hoping the trend continues, at least we can always count on Mr. Band to come through with his unique brand of shockingly bad, but thoroughly entertaining low budget fare.

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