It is a known fact that puppets can be absolutely terrifying. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Istanbul’s Ottoman-era puppets and Cambodia’s shadow puppets are both a delight to behold. But staring into the glass-eyed, slack-jawed face of a ventriloquist dummy is to look right into the depths of hell. There’s a reason rampaging murder puppets and dolls with undying grudges are a prominent horror trope in films from The Conjuring to the entire Chucky saga.
There are plenty of places around the globe for puppet fans to enjoy and and for those with pediophobia to avoid—yes, there is a word for “people with a fear of dolls.” Start in Trujillo, Peru, where an artist collective left behind rooms full of hanging dolls that seem poised to spring to life at night. Then there’s a repository of puppets lurking in the bowels of an 11th-century Austrian castle or the dangling, decapitated marionettes in an old Belgian theater. Whatever you do, just don’t turn off the lights.