Ventriloquist dummies are made to be anthropomorphized, and their not-quite-human appearance is precisely what makes them so unnerving. So when I first heard of celebrity photographer Matthew Rolston's book of dummy portraits, I expected a creepy celebration of the uncanny valley. But so many of these photos, depicting dolls whose performing days are long behind them, are strangely sad.

Rolston traveled to Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, to photograph the museum's retired dummies for his book, Talking Heads, The Vent Haven Portraits. CBS News has a dozen of the portraits from the book, and yes, many of them are bizarre and a bit spooky. But Rolston chose to give his subjects head shot portraits, which makes them look less like instruments of terror than actors who are past their prime but long for one more great act. Instead of receding hairlines and sagging eyes, these performers suffer from cracking paint jobs, sinking plaster, and eyebrows that have gone askew.

Portraits of retired dummies [CBS News via Laughing Squid]