Back to IndieWire

The Best One-Word Horror Titles, from ‘Scream’ to ‘Teeth’ to ‘Nope’

From titular antagonists ("Carrie," "Dracula," "It") to cryptic clues ("Saw," "Jaws," "Slither"), horror captures the art of the tiny title like no other genre.

Posters for "Scream," "Psycho," "Nope," "Halloween," "Saw"

Everett Collection

“Nope.” That’s the maddening morsel of a clue writer-director Jordan Peele gave audiences before unleashing his third horror flick into theaters on July 22: “Nope.”

Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, and Michael Wincott star in this science fiction horror outing set against the legacies of horse ranchers in Hollywood (we think). Although Peele’s latest project has been somewhat vague in its rollout (though Peele has long promised it’s about UFOs, and he’s not kidding), he’s not the first horror auteur to make their monosyllabic mark with a title that’s doggedly vexing and slyly sinister. Dating back to the earliest days of the movies, films such as “Noseferatu,” “Dracula,” “Freaks,” “Maniac,” “Bedlam,” “Godzilla,” “Rodan,” and more have kept things scary and succinct with titles that practically demand audiences venture into theaters to uncover the terrors behind these single word hints.

The best one-word horror movie titles act as good faith challenges to genre lovers. Want to see whose “Teeth” do what? Have to know what “It” is? Need to see what the “Saw” was for? Dare to press play on or buy tickets for the petrifying movies about these nightmarish situations and you can decide for yourself whether the gutsy titles were earned. Although, by then, these cunning filmmakers will have already lured you into their twisted tales with that temptingly tidy packaging.

Whole franchises have been built on one word titles. We’ve already mentioned “Saw,” but also “Scream,” “Halloween,” “Leprechaun,” “Alien,” “Insidious,” “Blade,” “Gremlins,” “Predator,” “Hellraiser,” and more. Standalone movies with one-word titles are just as plentiful, of course. To name a a smattering of examples in no particular order: “Crawl,” “Vampires,” “Titane,” “Malignant,” “Carrie,” “Split,” “Cam,” “Unsane,” “Censor,” “Scanners,” “Legion,” “Mother,” “Cujo,” “Underwater,” “Midsommar,” “Us,” “Orphan,” “Spree,” “Tusk,” “Annabelle,” “Zombieland,” “Firestarter,” “Overlord,” “Candyman,” “Antichrist,” “Raw,” “Cube,” “Eraserhead,” “Ma,” “Spawn,” “Society,” “Wounds,” “REC,” “Pet,” “Creep,” and many more.

Here are the top 15 best one-word horror movie titles, with a few caveats. All directors, including Peele, Ari Aster, and Alfred Hitchcock, have been limited to one competitive entry. (Apologies to “Vertigo.”) Proper nouns have also been disqualified, on the basis that those titles — broadly speaking — produce the same effect and their inclusion could skew the list. That said, consider this an honorable mention for “Mandy.”

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox