Have you ever wondered why so many horror movies have some sort of puppet appearing? Well, there is a reasonable, if not spine-tingling reason as to why they are used. We are going to be exploring a theory put forward by a Japanese researcher called as the “Uncanny valley” theory. The theory as such is only about a few sentences long; this article, on the other hand, will dive into the depths of what has become a long-standing tradition.
To start things off, let’s talk about two popular mythical creatures. Frankenstein and King Kong represent the ideal match up in terms of historical cinematic importance and as standalone pop-culture phenomena. When people watch movies, they are transported to a world wherein they feel like they are part of the movie and not just as individuals viewing the movie. Which is one of the reasons why horror movies are so scary or the reason as to why romantic tragedies pull at our heartstrings and make us emote? So now we shall deep dive to understand why Frankenstein is important for this discussion. King Kong is a beast, a super ape that torments New York and the movie was a hit due to the visual prowess, but it did not inflict fear into the audience. The same goes for Godzilla, iconic behemoth, but it lacked the fear factor so to say. The major reason is that both Godzilla and King Kong will inflict fear on any human if they were to see these beasts walking down a street. But these two beasts are a figment of human imagination. Frankenstein, on the other hand, is closer to being human than the other two characters. The uncanny valley theory suggests that more human an entity or character is, the more emotions can be drawn from the audience.
On that note, let’s talk about puppets. A well-designed puppet can look more human than anything else; this is the reason why their representation on stage or in a movie can inflict a multitude of emotion to the viewing audience. We are at a period where puppets can be made even scarier using CGI. All things considered, they represent the perfect fear-inducing object in a movie. Some movies even include the puppets to make infrasounds. Infrasounds are at a frequency that is far below the audible range, but one that can be felt by humans. The sound waves cause an eerie feeling to build in people and can cause a lot of people to squirm in their seats due to a sickening feeling. Overall puppets are the perfect items to use in a horror movie due to its uncanny accuracy to human beings.