OK. I’m the first to admit – Chucky (real name of the movie is actually Child’s Play) is a pretty awful movie. It’s one of those films that really aren’t that great, but due to die-hard cult following, have managed to survive and permeate into the lexicon of popular culture. I myself stand guilty of contributing to this phenomenon – I’m a sucker for B-list horror films, and when I watched the first Child’s Play as a kid it really freaked me out. I’ve been hooked on the franchise ever since – and regrettably, I’ve seen every single movie in the Chucky franchise (they get progressively worse). Child’s Play 7 (the 7th movie in the franchise) is due to come out in 2015. At this point, I’m waiting for it with a mix of anticipation and dread – and the dread isn’t because I’m worried that the movie will be scary – it’s actually because I’m dreading watching another 90 minute trainwreck of a film.
In any case, the reason I’m droning on about a mostly awful B-list film franchise is because a few days ago, I was on Reddit, and I learned for the first time that Chucky was inspired by an actual doll. That’s right – the creepy doll cliché that the Chucky franchise popularized actually has deeper, more ‘historical’ roots. I’m mostly just summarizing what I read in this post. Go here to learn about Robert the Doll in greater detail.
So, as it turns out, the inspiration for Chucky is a doll known as ‘Robert the Haunted Doll’. It sits in a museum in Florida, and museum workers apparently swear that it moves around on its own. Legend has it that the doll was a gift from a disgruntled servant to the child she looked after – apparently she was from the Caribbean, and was a practitioner of voodoo. The child, named Robert Eugene Otto, immediately gravitated towards the doll, and named it after himself (hence the name ‘Robert the Doll’). Before long, the parents of young Eugene started noticing that he behaved strangely when he was playing with the doll – they would hear conversations and strange voices coming from his room. At first they brushed this off as an overactive imagination, but soon strange things started happening in the house that couldn’t be explained. Servants began to hear strange laughs in the middle of the night; Eugene’s toys would be found mutilated in the house; heavy furniture would be found overturned. Visitors to the house would claim that the doll’s eyes would follow them around when they moved.
Eventually Eugene grew up. You’d think that a grown man has no use for a child’s doll, but Robert the Doll remained at Eugene’s side, and after his parents died, he remained in the old house, living only with the doll. Eventually, he managed to find a wife, but the doll was a constant point of contention between the couple – according to the legend, his wife, Anne, eventually died due to unknown causes.
Even after Eugene passed away, the legend of the doll continued. The family that bought the Otto house discovered Robert, and the daughter developed an intense attachment to it. To this day, that girl (now a fully grown woman) is convinced that the doll had tried to harm her on multiple occasions.
Nowadays, you can visit Robert the Doll in East Martello Museum in Key West Florida. I haven’t been there myself, but I’d love to go. To be honest, this story and this doll both seem far creepier to me than anything in the Chucky franchise. I really want to visit this museum for myself, and this story seems creepy enough to me that I’m surprised nobody has made a direct adaption of it yet.