There are very few things left in this world that are genuinely surprising. Every once in a while you may read something or come across an odd fact that really causes you to say "Seriously?" to yourself. I came across such a fact the other day when I learned that this week just so happens to be National Ventriloquism Week. Who decided these days should be dedicated to the dummy, no one seems to know for sure, but they are throwing their voices all over the place at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott Hotel at this year's annual Vent Convention.
The ventriloquism that we know today dates back to the vaudeville era, when the draw wouldn't be so much the witty repartee between dummy and human as the sheer novelty of watching someone switch voices around without moving his lips. If you've ever given it a shot, there is certainly a skill to it. How do you say the letter "R" without moving your mouth or looking like you're having a seizure?
The real origins of ventriloquism began way before that. The ventriloquists were more soothsayers than joke makers and the noises they were making came from their intestines. The ventriloquists then translated the noises, which were feared as coming from the dead. What could the dead possibly be saying through a stomach other than "hungry"?
Stomach gas or amusing stage performance, ventriloquism has a certain cachet to it with a huge creep factor. People are really frightened of those wooden dummies. In fact, there's an honest-to-God phobia over the dolls, called automatonophobia. They are weird and scary.
Television and movies have done nothing but add to our fear and mockery of the craft, making dummies the root of all evil.
Our top six creepiest ventriloquist dummies.
6. Dead SilenceDead Silence
, a film released just some five years ago, was created by the good people behind theSaw
franchise. It's not a good movie per se, but it will make you jump. A married couple in one of those sleepy towns receives an unexplained ventriloquist doll one day in the mail. Lesson learned: If someone ever sends you a dummy in the mail, it will kill you.
5. Freaks and Geeks -- "Noshing and Moshing"
Poor Neal Schweiber. After discovering his dad is messing around on the side, Neal finds comfort in the arms and attention of a ventriloquist dummy named Morty. It's sad and pathetic and not very funny to boot. His obsession with his new dummy friend turns into an all-out, awkwardly unpleasant family party that would make anybody cringe. In the end, Neal trades in Morty for some real people, but it is a fond farewell.
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- "The Puppet Show"
In Season One of the hit cult classic, the Scooby gang finds themselves ensconced in the high school talent show. It's bad singing, poorly designed sets, Giles freaking out in British and one incredibly shy ventriloquist and his very rude dummy. Since this is the Hell Mouth and all, the dummy is very much alive, and students are showing up dead and brainless. If only those kids could get through one day of high school with just the normal teenage woes like pimples.
3. The Twilight Zone -- "The Dummy"
"The Dummy" episode ofThe Twilight Zone
is the reason that ventriloquism is freaking scary. The episode focuses on ventriloquist Eddie and his dummy, Willie. Eddie complains that Willie talks to him and is making him crazy. Sure he is. But no, he actually is (because it'sThe Twilight Zone
). In the end, we don't know who is who; is Willie the dummy or is Eddie? Either way, Rod Serling will remind us that this world is cra-cra!
2. Jeff Dunham
You don't think Jeff Dunham and his band of dummies are scary? Have you ever seen his act? It's so bad, it's frightening.
is the scariest dummy movie out there. Anthony Hopkins stars as the once washed up ventriloquist who comes back with a vengeance. His counterpart's name is Fats and he acts as Hopkins' evil alter-ego. It is quickly understood that if anybody's got their hand up anyone's ass, it's not the way we imagine it to be.
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