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Presenting: ‘The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Titans’ Golden Ghoulie Awards

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Welcome, prized plebeians and titular Titans, to the inaugural Golden Ghoulie Awards™! The first season of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Titans has come to a close and featured nine episodes of lewks, kooks, and truths to scrutinize and glamorize. Equal parts The Real HouseUglies of Hades, a lighthearted hang with old friends, and a deadly battle for drag supremacy – Titans juggled more tonal shifts than the Shudder home page. In honor of yet another phantasmagoric buffet of the senses led by the nightmarish Boulet Brothers, Horror Press thought it’d be horrific to hand out nonexistent awards – courtesy of us – to the Monsters and moments that made this season special. Join us in your Samhain best as we make one final descent into the Underworld. As an unfriendly reminder, if any altercations relating to love triangles break out during the show, all parties will be escorted from the premises and cast back into oblivion.

Best Individual Looks:

Granny hag from hell. Gorgeous ladies with big naturals. Wigless. A lewd homage to the Disney Channel. No, I’m not reading from a discarded flyer for the Boulet Brother’s 2022 Halloween Ball. These are descriptors of just some of the legendary artistry our Titans brought to the main stage this season. Famed artist H.R. Giger once said, “My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy,” and our eyeballs were absolutely batshit for the visual splendor that made up the Titans floor shows. We’d be remiss to defibrillate the Golden Ghoulies without first acknowledging all the hard work put in by every single Titan to cross the threshold. So, in order of disappearance, these are the Best Individual Looks each Titan served this season.

Yovska: Pumpkinhead (Halloween House Party) – We didn’t get to see much from our favorite plushy hellion this season, but Yovska came out swinging in this sultry Nightmare Before the Strip Club number. Criticized in their original season for not allowing the personality of Yovska to shine through the cuddly terror of their costumes, this time, Pumpkinhead served body and face. Remain on guard because they’ll distract you with their pumpkaboobs before they sink their teeth in you.

Runner Up: Teletubby Toilet Bowl (Premiere episode entrance) – The Golden Ghoulies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this meme-worthy moment. Whatever Yovska’s intention, Kendra – through her almighty shade – made sure we will forevermore associate Yovska with that cursed children’s show and the porcelain throne.

Kendra Onixxx: Frankenstein (Halloween House Party) – Grace Jones made an appearance at the party via Kendra’s 1980s-inspired Frankenstein costume. Despite coming across as low-key compared to the competition, the reference is unmistakable, and the vibes are right. She also remained faithful to the 80s spirit with not one but ten (10) coke nails!

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Runner Up: Grandmother Bitch (Science Fiction [Horror] Double Feature) – Confoundingly unhinged, this campy moment gave Club Libby Lu realness. Hold on to your wigs because there will be more on this infamous lewk later in the show.

Erika Klash: Space Hydra (Science Fiction [Horror] Double Feature) – Lay back, and feast as this kaiju guides you through new and exciting dimensions. Erika broke free of her cutesy couture chains and propelled into the stratosphere with this DayGlo Ghidorah experience. Moving on from gel pens to prosthetics and puppetry, Erika entered Titan territory. Artpop, indeed.

Runner Up: The Bat (Halloween House Party) – Spoopy when it counts, Erika’s flittermouse had hair and carnal gore in all the right places. If it were not for her pairing with a literal question mark, perhaps the look would have gotten its due.

Abhora: Angel Eater (Science Fiction [Horror] Double Feature) – Abhora may rarely understand the assignment (and that’s why we love them), but this haute couture original proved that sometimes we need to get on their level. When you can’t figure out if it’s a dove-eating Final Fantasy boss or something from a Paris runway, it’s both, and it’s automatically iconic – we don’t make the rules. Abhora could Ozzy Osbourne, but Ozzy could never Abhora.

Runner Up: Spiral Witch (Revenge of the Witch) – It’s their woods, and we’re just following a trail of candy in it. Much like Miss Grandmother Bitch, stay tuned for more on this one.

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Melissa Befierce: The Fabulous Predator (Science Fiction [Horror] Double Feature) – If you’ve ever wanted to see the Predator in The Fifth Element serving See You Next Tuesday, Melissa worked it out, baby. Her custom bodysuit was meticulously stoned for tha’ gawds, and her lipstick was on point(ed teeth), all while remaining ultra-deadly. To borrow directly from her name, the lady was fierce as fuck.

Runner Up: GLOW Diva (The Ugly Ladies of Wrestling Rematch!) – This 1980s butch-femme fantasy is something only Melissa Befierce could pull off. A true glamazon in a ring of Uglies. Watch out, Sigourney!

Astrud Aurelia: The Kraken (Seamonsters of the Depths) – An ultimate mashup of their animal-infused drag and the show’s high expectations, Astrud’s Kraken had Davy Jones’ locker room on its knees. It was a titanic glow-up from their would-be Season 4 “Ghostship Glamour” challenge look (seen via Instagram) and highlighted their uncanny ability to mix fantasy creatures with reality.

Runner Up: Primordial Ooze (Science Fiction [Horror] Double Feature) – All eyes were on Astrud with this lewk, and that’s how they like it. Resembling something you wouldn’t want to find under your bed or in a dirty kitchen, they landed a laser-sighted bullseye on the challenge.

Evah Destruction: Sea Witch (Seamonsters of the Depths) – Evah’s hairy-armed Ursula blew all the fish out of the water. The curtain of her bioluminescent shell pulled back to reveal a sinister beat, and Evah utilized her thespian skills to sell the high drama. It was, perhaps, this Titan’s finest moment of the franchise. Is there still time for her to film a role in the upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid?

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Runner Up: The Devil (Halloween House Party) – Before Evah’s Sea Witch, there was Evah’s Devil. Yet another personal best, guest judge Cassandra Peterson told no lies when she proclaimed this should be Evah’s signature look.

HoSo Terra Toma: Sadako (Horror Icons Reanimated) – Leave it to HoSo to gift wrap Sadako from Ringu in celluloid and make it fashion. Everything about this look worked, from the analog TV helm to the slimy and tangled hair to the performance itself. They made this character fresh and – most importantly – drag while remaining distinct from the rest of their body of work.

Runner Up: Prom Queen (Zombie Prom) – If one of the countless Resident Evil iterations filmed a prom scene, this creature would be there. Plus, seeing HoSo in “basic bitch” drag was priceless.

Koco Caine: Elf Barbarian (Dungeons and Drag Queens Two: Into the Underdark) – Koco had her fair share of large (and busty) props this season, but none rocked the set more than her Elf Barbarian and axe. In true Koco fashion, the look and performance fused femme fatale with comedic timing, and the detailing ensured her character would be every gay boy’s first pick for the D&D campaign. Gimli is quaking.

Runner Up: Black Widow (Grand Finale) – This terrifying creature was perhaps the best embodiment of filth, horror, and glamour during the final floor show of the season. Nightmare fuel that makes you horny? Classic Koco.

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Victoria Elizabeth Black: Pumpkinhead II (Halloween House Party) – She saved the best for…first? While Victoria’s prosthetic work is out of this Underworld, her first lewk of the season utilized her skillset while leaning more toward traditional drag than “Universal Studios.” From the top of her removable scalp to the bottom of her pumpkin-gore skirt, it was ooey-gooey perfection. It became immediately apparent that VEB was back, and the granny hag from hell mouth prosthetic came with her.

Runner Up: Prom Queen (Zombie Prom) – It was a treat to see a softer side of Victoria pre-zombie bite, and the aftermath was expectedly repulsive. Truly the best of both worlds.

Top 3 Floor Shows:

Drag as an art form is constantly in a cycle of reinvention. It has been around far longer than we realize and will continue to evolve far beyond our wildest imaginations. The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula acknowledges and nurtures this concept, providing alternative drag artists a platform where there once was none. And while we eat up the backstage drama and wait with bated breath for the infamous Exterminations, the otherworldly floor shows keep us coming back for more. Old school and new-age drag form a symbiotic bond on the main stage, mixing ballroom with experimental, glamour with gore. Titans resurrected some old favorites and gave us new surprises. These are the Top 3 Floor Shows of the season.

  1. Zombie Prom: Most symbolic of the fusion of old and new, this floor show allowed us to see a different side of our Titans before tearing their bodies asunder as flesh-eating undead. And while we may never want to see Abhora presenting as a female cheerleader again, some were genuinely breathtaking. Then, when the shit hit the fan and their minds went feral, the show’s editors did a fantastic job splicing together the transition and letting carnage and chaos reign.
  2. Revenge of the Witch: A curse of baldness, a little bit of Project Runway, and a campy lip sync – this floor show had it all! It’s always a treat to see individual takes on the classic iconography of the witch, and this time our whimsical wenches had to design a pair of magical pumps to wear while lip-syncing the bog down boots. Thematically, we saw a few witches exact some sweet revenge, and homosexually, we witnessed the gayest floor show of the franchise. Werk!
  3.  Horror Icons Reimagined: Another take on a prior season’s challenge; this one is oddly personal. As horror lovers, we all have our favorites, and here we can see who or what might inspire the Titans and their work. This go-around, they were tasked with recreating a signature moment from their chosen icon, and the results were killer. A special shout-out goes to Koco Caine for going full-meta and performing as the third Boulet Brother.

Top 3 Fright Feats:

“On Titans, we’re all Erika” – HoSo Terra Toma

Fear: It lurks beneath the surface. We feel it when we catch a shadowy figure in our periphery. We experience it when we forget our charger at home. We see it in the eyes of the woman selling discount paella at the local dive bar. It drives our decisions and alters the course of our lives. Unfortunately, it didn’t create any lasting effects on this season of Titans, in which everyone had to participate in the weekly Fright Feat before continuing the competition. But, in the end, the fear of expulsion forced them to embrace their inner Extermination Queen, Erika Klash, and eat pig brains. In the spirit of fear, here are the Top 3 Fright Feats of the season.

  1. Burn the Witch: Literally and figuratively the spiciest of all, this Feat saw the tempestuous Titans set their mouths ablaze by eating some of the hottest foods on the planet. The most sincere test of wits and physical endurance was undoubtedly the most challenging and appropriately came with higher stakes. The winner (Erika, duh) was able to cast The Curse of Baldness upon a fellow competitor (Abhora, duh) to suffer during the upcoming floor show.
  2. Lie Detector Test: This was a shady ol’ time – pure fun. We got some answers to hard-hitting questions and plenty of spilled tea. Does Victoria think they’re better than everyone else? Does Astrud believe they have what it takes to win? Are Koco’s titties full of secrets? Talk about juicy.
  3. Bobbing for Apples (in blood): While none too challenging or revealing, this throwback to the quintessential party game threw our players into the deep end from the jump. Wigs were slicked back in viscous plasma, and the ghouls were literally gagging. The Boulets surely got their money’s worth watching this puke fest.

 Most Gag-Worthy Moment: “Shoes” Lip Sync

Setting aside the season’s towering amounts of interpersonal drama, the Boulets set out to have fun this season. Their banter was sillier, the Titans made tinfoil hats and played “Stabula” in the boudoir, and an entire episode’s B-plot dedicated itself to the quest for fun. So, when the super-secret lip sync song for the Revenge of the Witch floor show revealed itself to be “Shoes” by Kelly, a collective gay gasp could be heard worldwide. We’re used to the occasional lip sync to a Boulet Brothers song, but something so explicitly camp seemed almost out of reach on the show. Watching these Titans, who are now horror icons in their own right, prance around the stage to such a ridiculous song was pure magic. Thank you for such a stupid surprise, Gagula.

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Most Heartwarming Moment: Melissa and Abhora Make Amends

In a season full of strong personalities and love triangles, the clash of the Titans often happened off-stage more than on. And while we love a good drama, it tended to drone on longer than Merrie Cherry on Season 4. At one point, it seemed as if Melissa and Abhora were going to come to blows due to the former’s intolerance of petty drama and the latter’s self-destructive behavior. In actuality, an angel must have been shining down on Hell that day because while on location for the D&D challenge, the pair set aside their differences and hugged it out. Our stone-cold hearts grew three sizes that day.

Most Robbed: Abhora as the Spiral Witch

Abhora had a very tumultuous season, but one of their moments in the spotlight was during the Revenge of the Witch floor show. They shocked the cast by returning from oblivion, expertly rolled with the Curse of Baldness cast upon them by Erika, and turned out one of their best floor shows of the season. Sure, Abhora can’t quite figure out how to walk in a heel, but they swirled and twirled around that stage like it was New York City and definitely understood the assignment. They should have at least been at the top if they could not secure the win. Instead, they were safe and left to their inner saboteur backstage. Robbed!

Most Iconic Inanimate Object: The Quill

I know what you’re thinking: What about Koco’s axe, HoSo’s bubble gun, and Abhora’s creepy baby doll mug? The Golden Ghoulie goes to Episode 1’s quill, which the Titans used to write down the names of who they thought should be up for elimination, Survivor style. Much like a toxic hookup, it came, caused chaos, and left without a word. It also gave us one of the season’s funniest moments in which Koco could not use the quill to save her life due to her iconically long nails. We need a Koco Caine and Jennifer Coolidge buddy comedy, stat!

Best Wig: Victoria Elizabeth Black’s Zombie Prom Intestines Wig

Intestines transformed into a wig. It looks as intricate as it does disgusting. Need we say more?

Worst Wig: Yovska’s Revenge of the Witch Wig

While we are here to celebrate our Titans, there needs to be at least one straight-up shady category. Yovska doesn’t typically wear the standard drag wig – or any at all – so they must know this was a sin. It looked like a possessed merkin, unless, maybe, that’s what they were going for?

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Biggest WTF Moment: Grandmother Bitch

If you thought “Abhora as ???” was confusing, you hadn’t seen anything until Kendra appeared on stage in Episode 3. Dressed like Judy Jetson as a high-end call girl, she used a Nintendo Switch controller as a prop phone to scream expletives at/about Grandmother Bitch in a surreal spoken word performance. It culminated in her pooping out an alien egg and eating it. After some internet sleuthing, it has come to our attention she was paying homage to the 1999 Disney Channel original movie Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. If this helps you make more sense of it, we are glad to have helped. In any case, we couldn’t take our eyes off her, and we hope she made it to the Protozoa concert with egg-free hotpants.

Biggest Upset: Melissa Tops While HoSo & Evah Bottom

 Melissa had been playing as an underdog throughout the season, but Episode 6’s wrestling challenge provided the perfect opportunity for the fiercest butch queen of the franchise to snatch a win. In contrast, frontrunners HoSo and Evah couldn’t match her masculine energy and soon faced the Staircase of Souls. Tension was thick, and it seemed the Boulets didn’t bring a knife because both remained safe by the episode’s end. One upset creates another, and everyone was left to wonder what consequences this double save might hold for the future. The drama of it all!

The Golden Breastplate Award of Honor: Koco Caine

The Golden Breastplate Award™ honors the Titan who displays a god-like mastery of shade and the spoken tongue. Koco Caine shone like a beacon of light in the darkness, illuminating a path for all to see. She was the season’s narrator, telling like it was, is, and will be. She lay her shade like delicately placed proximity mines, popping off when you should have known better. The only dragging of Koco Caine was done by Koco Caine herself because if you can’t read yourself, how in the hell are you gonna read somebody else? She left the season unscathed, emerging as the show’s sweetheart with a heart – and a breastplate – of gold.

That’s our show, Uglies. Thank you for being a part of the inaugural Golden Ghoulie Awards, and we hope you enjoyed reminiscing on the crowning achievements of our beloved Titans. If you wish to wash away some of that pesky fire and brimstone, we’ll be dumping buckets of blood on people in the parking lot after the show since it went unused for the finale. Rest in pieces!

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Alex Warrick is a film lover and gaymer living the Los Angeles fantasy by way of an East Coast attitude. Interested in all things curious and silly, he was fearless until a fateful viewing of Poltergeist at a young age changed everything. That encounter nurtured a morbid fascination with all things horror that continues today. When not engrossed in a movie, show or game he can usually be found on a rollercoaster, at a drag show, or texting his friends about smurfs.

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Editorials

HELLO DOLLY!: Ranking All the Dolls in the Chucky Franchise

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And hello to all you horror heads as well!

I’m still bounding with energy from that wicked Chucky Season 2 finale (recap here), I need somewhere to put it. We’ll be waiting a hot minute until Don Mancini brings out the next gem in the series. With my brain hollowed out and replaced with killer doll knowledge, why don’t we occupy ourselves with some rankings?

I’ve taken it upon myself to rank every iteration of the dolls in the Chucky series, for better or worse, on a set of highly scientific and measured criteria that make me objectively right.

This is for sure not just opinion and speculation.

…Probably.

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And one more thing. Childs Play (2019) Chucky is not any Chucky we recognize in this house. Lars Klevberg and Orion Pictures shouldn’t have shown that to me, but they did, and I’m not going to show that to you. It’s terrible. The one and only disqualification. Disqualified.

Would-Be Chucky Army (Chucky Seasons 1 & 2)

A moment of silence for the many copy-pasted dolls that lost their life to Andy Barclay’s self-sacrificing truck crash, and the ones lost to The Colonel’s interior decorating aspirations.

Bloated Chucky (Curse of Chucky)

I wish there were more to say, but outside of the introduction of Nica, this movie and this design committed the greatest sin of all: being boring. This version of Chucky is just very puffy, like allergic reaction mid hangover kind of puffy. I know he’s supposed to be…fleshy & intimidating, I guess? But it’s just not doing it for me. That’s basically it.

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Belle Doll Disguise Chucky (Chucky Season 2)

This one shouldn’t even be on the list since he only had about 10 seconds of actual screen time, but I’ll let it slide because it was a pretty hilarious reveal.

Chucky Trio (Cult of Chucky)

Don’t let their placement fool you, I love these and all the other dolls above them. But it’s cutthroat here on the listicle circuit.

It’s such a fun departure for the series to let Brad Douriff go nuts in a recording booth and do a one-man play between three separate Chuckys who are coordinating to possess his estranged daughter like it’s the weirdest soap opera ever put to film. The movie is a head trip, and just when you think it’s winding down into a predictable lull by the third act, the Chucky throuple reminds you that Don Mancini is no hack. The power of three, in combination with their distinct styles, weapons, gruesome kills, and drastic improvements on the Curse doll makes them stand out above the rest.

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TIE: Buff Chucky & The Colonel (Chucky Season 2)

Chucky is at his best comedically when he’s taking himself seriously, but the script isn’t. And with the floodgates opened by the war of the dolls in Season 2 of Chucky, we got two new Chucky variants that are ridiculous, and infinitely more entertaining than they should be.

If you had told me back in Season 1 that we would get a Chucky who is doing anabolics and squatting 300 on the rack every day, I would have laughed in your face; I would have laughed harder if you told me that he would freak me out. And what can be said of The Colonel? It’s Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, and just like Kurtz, he grows creepier the longer you look at exactly where he’s standing and how he got there.

GG (Seed of Chucky, Chucky Season 2)

Oh, GG. What a sweet genderfluid monarch you are, too good for your own good. While Lachlan Watson’s performance as both halves of the spiritually entwined twins Glen and Glenda was one of the best parts of Season 2, this is a battle of the dolls.

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Formerly stylized by fans as Glen/da, now going by the more neutral GG, this doll has a unique design reflecting the evolution of the nonbinary character and their identity struggle. I like that some elements of both parents got carried over to their child, and who can forget Billy Boyd’s iconic voice performance? Still, their screen time is relatively low compared to most other dolls, and we don’t see them in much action. They’re more about the talking than the killing and stalking, you know?

Grandaddy Chucky (Child’s Play)

Before you start flaming me on Twitter in front of everyone, take a moment to calm down and remember how good this movie is. This ranking can’t take that away! It’s a low spot, I know, but I still think he looks fantastic!

Honestly, he would go to the number one spot if his facial animatronics were as good as they were in any of the other films, but right now, he gets to stay where he is for 1. his icon status, and 2. his sheer durability. My god, does this doll get jacked up. Burned, shot, stabbed, exploded, decapitated, I seriously don’t think he reaches this level of superhuman (superdoll?) durability in any of the other movies. Who would have thought this was the true power of Voodoo for Dummies?

 Tiffany (Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky, Chucky Seasons 1 & 2)

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Okay, my Jennifer Tilly bias is showing here. Look, what can I say? I’m a man of simple tastes, I see a Tilly, I love a Tilly, and the design team making Tiff embody all the energy and character of her actress aesthetically makes me love this tiny plastic Tilly!

She might be David Kirschner and Kevin Yagher’s magnum opus in character design just for how strong her contrast is against the newer, grungier Scarface Chucky introduced in the same film. The Belle doll-turned-Blondie fan communicates all of Tiffany’s melodrama and loudness perfectly. It’s a bold but perfect partner in crime design, and with her perennial iconic style, we must stan.

“This Is the Best of The Movies” Chucky (Child’s Play 2)

Honestly, I find it so hard to pick between this design and 3’s. On the one hand, Child’s Play 2 Chucky is menacing and was the first truly upgraded Chucky, giving his motion and facial expressions a lot more credence in a film that is frankly better in all measures. Every doll owes its evolution to this one’s leap in advancement.

The doll and its kills outshine the original and do exactly what you want from a sequel. Getting a cue from Puppet Master’s Blade with that knife prosthetic in the factory finale and just becoming increasingly menacing over the runtime, he also shades his particular brand of evil with the barest hint of that humor and some very funny dry one-liners (“How’s it hanging Phil?”). He is a cut above most Chuckys.

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 Extra Chunky Salsa Death Chucky (Child’s Play 3)

But this Chucky? This Chucky was the blueprint for the silliness that would eventually become a hallmark of this series, and all the variants we would eventually see.

This was when Chucky entered his quip era and cemented himself as a goofy ass villain. His scheming and cartoony expressions in this movie make him such a lovable goober. He’s not that scary, but he is on the same level as 2 when it comes to physicality. For me, he has the goofiest and most satisfying death of any doll in the series with that face slice into industrial fan combo. This version of Chucky being so great makes up for 3 being one of the weakest entries in the series and carries the entire film on its back.

Scarface Chucky (Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky)

Rude f**king doll indeed. Bride of Chucky is far from a perfect film, but it has a perfect Chucky in my eyes. Does it have that late 90s edge that dates it like the rest of that movie? Yes! Does it look like Tiffany gave up on the sutures halfway through? Also, yes! Is it also the most enduring and recognizable Chucky design, not just to horror fans but pretty much everyone on earth, even when he’s been reduced to 3/4ths of a head? A million times yes!

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It’s so textured and battle-damaged, which is appropriate since it keeps things fresh for the fourth entry in the series. Also, I would have paid triple the price of admission to see another movie about Andy carrying around Chucky’s decapitated, messed-up talking head.

Hackensack Chucky, AKA, Good Chucky, AKA, Prime Chucky (Chucky Season 1 & 2)

He’s the worst…but also the best.

Spanning several functionally identical plain jane bodies, this most joyously evil era of Chucky doesn’t have any aesthetic modifications like the counterparts at the #2, #7, and #9 rankings (beyond improvements in animatronics and seamless integration). But over 16 episodes, these dolls still showed you exactly how evil a plain old Chucky can be.

Though awful in Season 1, this era’s most notable lowest low is during his stint as “Good Chucky” in Season 2. The Hackensack Gang and a good chunk of the audience were duped into thinking that the kid’s attempts at brainwashing Charles Lee Ray had worked; for our naivete, we were awarded one of the most harrowing character deaths in the entire franchise.

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Pouncing back on Jakes insecurities tenfold, attacking Lexy’s addictive nature, and exploiting Nadine’s goodhearted nature, killing off two fan favorites within a matter of a few episodes, I truly think this was the first time I wouldn’t say I liked a version of Chucky after everything. This is why Prime Chucky’s fate felt so much more satisfying, being rewarded for his duplicity by taking his own holly jolly chainsaw to the face, courtesy of Lexy. What a Christmas present!

AFTER DOLL IS SAID AND DONE…

Disagree with any of the rankings? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter, so hit us up there and stay tuned for more articles, more Chucky mayhem to come and more Horror Press.

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Slappy Was the Blueprint: How the Dummy from Goosebumps Became A Horror Icon

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The Scholastic Book Fair was a religious holiday for me growing up. It was the moment middle schoolers felt like they had real agency to make their own decisions with money, and the only time it was actually cool to want to read (the coolest of the cool kids only bought erasers and stickers to trade among each other). Entering the loud gym where the sale was housed always felt like a rush—and when it was finally your turn, you felt like royalty. 

Colorful chapter books lined the metal bookshelves like a candy store, and I had five dollars in my tiny pockets to burn. There was so much to choose from in the early 2000s—A Series of Unfortunate Events was a smash hit, Bunnicula was the underground niche pick, and you could never go wrong with the creepy Animorphs series. But for me, the second I saw the oozing font and dead-eyed dummy staring back at me on the cover, I knew I had to have Night of the Living Dummy topping the massive Goosebumps display. I handed the nice cashier five dollars (who also asked, “Are you sure?” when she noticed my selection), took a sparkly bookmark on my way out, and proudly ventured home. I was on top of the world, only to be quickly dragged down once I began reading about the doll’s evil antics later that night. Slappy would haunt my nightmares for weeks—to the point where I hid the book in my basement and locked the door behind me.

One of the quintessential faces of the Goosebumps series, Slappy the Dummy first debuted in 1993 and immediately skyrocketed to fame. R. L. Stine would write nine different Goosebumps books centering the character and created an entirely separate Slappy series called Goosebumps SlappyWorld. Slappy was the main antagonist of the 2015 live-action movie starring Jack Black as well as its 2018 sequel, got made into actual ventriloquist dolls (perfect to add to your Chucky, Tiffany, and Annabelle collections), and became a Young Adult horror icon.

Like the killer dolls listed above, Slappy would come alive in a very similar way. If one mutters the phrase Karru Marri Odonna Loma Molonu Karrano, which translates to you and I are one now, it’s all over. Slappy will then do everything in his power to make you his servant, framing you for his crimes and pushing you away from the people you love and care about. Sound familiar? 

But Stine’s influences for the undead dummy are somewhat surprising. You’d think the main one was Chucky, arguably the most famous killer doll first appearing in 1988, but Stine hasn’t cited the little menace. 

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The main inspirations for Slappy were the 1883 classic book The Adventures of Pinocchio and the 1978 psychological horror film Magic starring Anthony Hopkins. (In the Goosebumps TV series, Slappy would even don a voice that sounds the same as Fats, the dummy from Magic originally voiced by Hopkins. And as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer mega-fan, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sid, the cursed puppet who looks eerily similar to Slappy, from season one.) There’s a callback to Chucky’s famous “Wanny play?” catchphrase in the Goosebumps TV show, which feels more like an easter egg than an influence. Regardless of where the idea for Slappy came from, Stine successfully created a horror figure for kids that would allow them to explore further into the horror genre—I would know, I was one of them. If it weren’t for Slappy or the Goosebumps franchise, would I have been comfortable seeking out more mature, intense horror flicks to discover Ghostface, Michael, or Freddy? Probably not—we all had to start somewhere.

We don’t all decide to turn on the TV and begin with Puppet Master, Child’s Play, or Dead Silence. Some of us start small and end up locking our books in the cold, dusty basement out of extreme fear (and throw their American Girl doll down there for good measure. Their eyes literally open and close). We build resilience like we do anything else—muscle, relationships, knowledge. And sometimes it takes a well-dressed dapper dummy to illustrate that.

The next book fair came around, and I ignored the Goosebumps table during my initial walkthrough. My eyes kept darting to the green and purple setup, too curious to look away. Was Slappy’s second book there? Did I actually want to know what was going to happen to him next?

I reluctantly walked over and picked up Night of the Living Dummy II. The cover was somehow scarier than the first, deceivingly pink with Slappy’s same dead eyes. I smiled, handed the same nice cashier my five-dollar bill feeling overly victorious, and rushed home to do my math homework so I could hide under the covers and finish Slappy’s latest adventure all in one night.

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