Top 10 Vocab-Building Horror Flicks of All Time

Considering that the most frequent sound to come out of a horror movie character’s mouth is a blood-curdling scream, vocabulary may not be the first thing you think of in relation to fright flicks.

However, don’t let the funhouse mirror distort the unexpected ways these films have contributed to the popular lexicon. Whether these films make you scream, cry or quiver, you’ll be sure to learn something thrilling along the way.

Spook your lexicon – and your nerves – into overdrive. Check out this list taken from the fab Dictionary.com app:

1. The Exorcist – This controversial masterpiece not only redefined horror movies, but has also given people nightmares and nausea since 1973 and introduced us to the term pneumoencephalogram.

2. The Silence of the Lambs – When Dr. Hannibal Lecter insists, “Enthrall me with your acumen,” we can’t help but be enthralled with his. We also have Dr. Lecter to thank for some perverse culinary education – fava beans and Chianti will never taste the same.

3. The Shining – Stephen King’s imagination for horror + Stanley Kubrick’s cerebral filmmaking + Jack Nicholson’s sardonic wit = neuron-firing chills. Kudos to a film that makes ten words – “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – one of the most terrifying moments in cinema. Alas, you won’t find “redrum” in any mainstream dictionary.

4. Jaws – Sure, those of us who were kids in 1975 are now afraid to swim in a pool, but this classic may have done more to generate interest in Carcharodon carcharias than all Shark Week episodes combined. When we weren’t being traumatized, we were educated on the animals’ extreme territoriality as well as nautical and medical terminology.

5. Scream – A clever plot and satirical dialogue set this one apart within the otherwise mind-numbing teen slasher genre. Randy offers insight into the killer’s actions: “It’s the millennium, motives are incidental.” We dare you to find a line like that in any of the Friday the 13th films.

6. Suspiria – This English-dubbed, gruesome 1977 Italian Dario Argento classic revolves around unusual words that inspire the viewer to look them up, when you aren’t too busy gasping in terror.

7. Videodrome – From what we can determine, the only film included in our Quotes section is David Cronenberg’s early, visionary work. Phrases, concepts, even the names of characters play off of word meanings. And who can forget the grotesque yet mesmerizing imagery and the young James Woods’ intensity?

8. The Omen – We have to give this film credit simply for making its title, a useful and sophisticated term, ubiquitous in popular vocabulary. For better or worse, the series also deserves credit for perpetuating concepts such as the Anti-Christ and the apocalypse.

9. Alien – This film put Sigourney Weaver on the map and put us into a state of nightmare for about a week. Nevertheless, those with the intestinal fortitude to see past the blood were enlightened by discussions of evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, and corporate politics. The film’s 1979 movie poster corrected a scientific fallacy perpetuated by Star Wars – “In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream…”

10. Psycho – This masterpiece brought the oedipal complex out of the English classroom and made it something so scary that we were afraid to shower. Norman Bates lulls us into a false sense of security with his discussions of taxidermy and armchair philosophy before forever proving that men dressed as old ladies can indeed be terrifying.


1 Response to “Top 10 Vocab-Building Horror Flicks of All Time”

  1. November 9, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Horror has been my life long guilty pleasure! I got into so much trying to see Horror Movies I wasn’t supposed to be watching! The Excorcist being the first one. Terror Train was a good one, and I like the original Dead Zone with Christopher Walken too. And while all my friends were hanging Tiger Beat Posters on their walls, I had Freddy Kruger posters on mine! I used to sneak Fangoria’s into my school books so I could read them during boring classes! But Ssshhh dont tell anyone! 🙂

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