By Tara Ryazansky
The season is finally here. That first twinge of cold weather makes most people run for pumpkin lattes, cute sweaters and apple picking, but I must admit I start thinking about Halloween by the end of August. It’s the part of Autumn that I get most excited for. The costumes, the decorations, the new release horror movies and the old ones playing on television.But it got me thinking, can a horror movie ruin a great baby name? Lots of creepy character names have gotten more popular after gaining notoriety in scary films. Damien, Gage, Regan and Samara all became more appealing to new parents despite belonging to evil children onscreen. Which names can rise above those awful associations and which ones are unwearable because of them?
Damien- Damien Thorn, what a great sounding name. Too bad it’s the name of evil incarnate! At least it is in the 1976 movie The Omen, and in the 2006 reboot that they probably made just to drag a lovely name through the mud all over again! The Omen is such a classic film that plenty of people think Damien is synonymous with Devil Child or Son of the Devil. The name actually means to tame or subdue and it has lots of nicer namesakes. Still, the Damian spelling might be a better choice unless you’re a horror fanatic.
Malachi & more- If you’re into gorgeous biblical boy names, the Children of the Corn movies might not be a bad place to go name hunting. The production quality goes downhill with each straight-to-video sequel, but the names get more interesting and rare as the series goes on. It might be hard to use Lazlo, Tyrus, Micah, Mordechai or Isaac after watching those creepy scythe wielding children though!
Norman- The name Norman was ranked 138 in 1960 when Psycho was released and fell steadily after that. I guess a character study of a mama’s boy murderer doesn’t do much good for a name. A&E’s TV show, Bates Motel, probably won’t revive Norman‘s popularity. It’s too bad. I think this name has clunky cool potential.
Hannibal- Hannibal is a hard one to wear. It rhymes with cannibal and reminds everyone of The Silence of the Lambs. The upside is that there probably won’t be another in his kindergarten class. I actually think it’s an interesting and powerful sounding choice, but it’s way too associated with the horror genre.
Gage- This one really bums me out. It’s short and strong, it has a great meaning…but every time I hear it I just think of that old man saying, “Sometimes dead is better.” Pet Sematary also ruined the name Zelda for me. Thanks a lot, Stephen King.
Regan- When The Exorcist came out in 1973 moviegoers fainted in the aisles, became physically ill, allegedly some even had heart attacks and miscarriages. The image of a young girl possessed by Satan really traumatized people. Yet the name Regan entered the US top 1000 the very next year. It remains there still, but the Reagan spelling is much more popular.
Sidney- Sidney was in the top 500 for girls long before the Scream movies revived the slasher movie genre. But somehow I still can’t help but hear this name in the Ghostface voice. It’s one of the many reasons I prefer Sidney on a boy.
Samara- Samara is such a pretty name, but many consider it creepy thanks to the movie, The Ring. The disturbing visual elements and suspense really affected viewers and started the trend of American remakes of Asian horror films. Is Samara marred forever?
Elvira- The ultimate Halloween name, I think Elvira will eternally be connected to the Mistress of the Dark. It is a pretty sounding name despite the campy connotations. Maybe the Ell-veer-uh pronunciation makes it more wearable. Maybe just plain Vera is the best option of all.
Laurie- As in Jamie Lee Curtis‘ character in the classic movie Halloween. It’s a great name choice for a 1970’s good-girl babysitter, but Laurel feels more 2014.
Esther- Esther is a gorgeous choice with plenty of wonderful namesakes. It’s also the name of the main character in the scary movie, Orphan. Scary, yes, but not nearly bad enough to make me stop loving the name Esther or the idea of adopting someday.
Rosemary- The devil baby association is a deal breaker for some despite the sweet vintage appeal and herbal aspect of the name Rosemary. I think it’s still a great choice. I just have to try to erase the image of that creepy black pram from my mind!
So which of these names do you think have survived their horror associations–and which ones never will?