Halloween Baby Names: Creepy Names that (mostly) survived horror movies
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?
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on October 29th, 2013 at 11:20 pm
Yes! Stephen King has ruined so many names for me. I can’t think of Zelda without thinking of 1 – The video game and 2 – that creepy sister from Pet Sematary. And Gage :'(
I’m using Damien for my first son. I used that spelling in a story and I love it so much. I think people should get over it. My grandma said, when I mentioned this name “that means demon” -_- No.
Anyway, I think all of these are lovely names that need to be moved past and reused!
on October 30th, 2013 at 8:19 am
I could seriously do a whole Stephen King post! Interested, Pam & Linda?
on October 30th, 2013 at 8:20 am
Damien is a great name @Dantea I’m glad you’ll still use it!!
on October 30th, 2013 at 12:06 pm
I think Hannibal is the only one that hasn’t really survived the association. Elvira is pretty singular too, but less…menacing.
A Stephen King blog post would be cool!
on October 30th, 2013 at 12:23 pm
I’m all for a Stephen King blog. I actually looked back at his books for ideas once upon a time.
Gage is one of my favorite names – especially for a middle. i loved Dashiell Gage. But my brother and sister couldn’t get over Pet Semetary, or the Incredibles for that matter. 🙂
on October 30th, 2013 at 1:34 pm
Pet Semetary was my first horror movie so Gage & Zelda really kept that creepy feeling for me!
The one that really surprises me as far as holding onto the association is Samara. It never fails that someone brings up The Ring when that name is mentioned. I guess it’s a combination of how different & popular the film was AND that I can’t think of any other associations. At least Damien has Hirst- it’s not evil, it’s artsy! And Reagan is presidential sounding…not just 100% pea soup!
on October 30th, 2013 at 1:35 pm
I will start working on my Stephen King post asap!
on October 30th, 2013 at 7:09 pm
My cousin decided to name her baby Gage, and when my mom told my sister and I separately, we both said, “Has she ever seen Pet Sematary?” 🙂
on October 30th, 2013 at 7:44 pm
When I was younger my brothers told everyone that I looked like Regan from the Exercist. I thought it was a great sounding name but my name is Nancy and having a mother/child combination Nancy/Regan seemed wrong. Then last year we adopted a puppy already given the name Regan and decided to keep it. Wednesday is also a “scary” movie name for a future pooch.
on October 31st, 2013 at 10:43 am
Malcolm and Cole were totally ruined for me by the Sixth Sense. Every time I hear those names, I have this association with, “I see dead people.” I don’t think many other people share this association. Malcolm is in the top 500, and Cole is barely outside the top 100. Speaking of Stephen King, Abigail has been ruined for me, too, ever since I read The Stand. I don’t many others share this association, either, as it is currently #7.
on October 31st, 2013 at 11:16 am
I never read The Stand, but to me Abigail is all Salem Witch Trials/The Crucible and that makes it pretty unlikable for me. I do think it has a pretty sound, but I prefer Abilene. It’s more distinctive, it has no negative associations and I find Billie more charming than Abbie.
I loved The Sixth Sense! Kyra is another great name from that one…and there’s a Kyra in Bag Of Bones by Stephen King as well!
on October 31st, 2013 at 12:42 pm
YES! Do a Stephen King post! My husband keeps trying to get me to love Roland. I would add Carrie to the creep list for me.
I also think of the song “Elvira” whenever I hear it.
on October 31st, 2013 at 1:10 pm
I love Damien, however OH can only associate it with The Omen so he won’t go for it. He refuses to watch Children of the Corn so Isaac is still safe.
I find it funny that he’ll veto Damien, Caine and Delilah because of the associations but loves Lilith. If I had a way I would have Damien, Isaac and Delilah. All of them with “bad” associations, I never realized that about them until a few months ago.
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