Friday, October 30, 2015

Film Names: Scary Movies

I was raised by Halloween parents.

Those of you who also had Halloween parents will know what I mean. For those of you who didn't - imagine your childhood, but with a lot more costumes, fake blood, and scary movies.

Halloween was our family's big holiday, and we went all-out with decorations, costumes, pumpkin-carving, and more. My sister and I, as a result, are now huge fans of scary movies - to the chagrin of friends and more distant relatives.

Today's post will be about cool names found in Halloween classics - or at least, my favorite classics.

Frankenstein, directed by James Whale, 1931
An indisputable classic, and a personal favorite, the original Frankenstein has influenced countless films over the years. Characters include classic names like Henry, Elizabeth, and Victor, all excellent and established choices. Actor names include the rarer Mae, Boris, Dwight, and Lionel - while Mae and Lionel have reentered the list, are Dwight and Boris too dated?

Dracula, directed by Tod Browning, 1931
I couldn't include Boris Karloff without Bela Lugosi! An early vampire film that of course led to later iterations, Dracula is timeless - and still creepy. Bela for a boy is unusual today, and might be confused with feminine Bella - the boy's version means "white", the girls' comes from Elizabeth, "pledged to God". Mina, a main character's name, is recently starting to rise back up the girls' list.

The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin, 1973
With eerie effects - including green slime - little actress Linda Blair shot into the spotlight in this religious ride through demonic possession. I find it interesting that the two main female characters are Chris and Regan, with gender-neutral names. Actor names include Ellen, Lee, Max, Jack, and Jason - nothing too unfamiliar.

Halloween, directed by John Carpenter, 1978
The beginning of Jamie Lee Curtis' career, Halloween spawned a series of sequels and remakes, with scary killer Michael Myers lurking through them all. A lot of the character names are nicknames - Laurie, Annie, Tommy, Richie - probably because of their young ages. Among the actresses, two have stereotypically male names: Jamie Lee and Kyle.

Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper, 1982
This movie triggers all sorts of relatable fears - clowns, shadows, ghosts, and more. The actors and actresses who played the central family have an interesting mix of names - Scottish Craig, combo JoBeth, French Dominique, classic Oliver, and flower-power Heather. I hadn't seen the director's name before, either; it's pronounced like Toby.

The Nightmare Before Christmas, directed by Henry Selick, 1993
One of my favorite movies of all time, this animated film can be watched at Halloween, Christmas - or any other time of year. Main characters Jack and Sally are my favorite fictional couple, hands down, with timeless names to match. In related name trivia, creator Tim Burton and ex-partner Helena Bonham Carter have a daughter Nell, which continues the matrilineal tradition on Helena's side - Hélène, Elena, Helena, Nell.

Scream, directed by Wes Craven, 1996
The best first 15 minutes of any scary movie, in my opinion. This 90's mashup of real terror and meta-comedy keeps you on the edge of your seat. Again, the female characters have gender-neutral names (why is this?) - Casey, Sidney, Gale, and Tatum. Star Neve Campbell's name means "snow", and it's climbing in the UK along with Gaelic spelling Niamh.

The Blair Witch Project, directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, 1999
The movie that started the "found footage" trend, it's a bit less scary than before the copycats followed - but only a bit. The actors share the names of their characters - Heather, Josh and Mike - which prompted the rumor to be spread that the actors had actually died.

What are your favorite scary movies?

Happy Halloween! Stay costumed and safe this weekend :)

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