Baby Names to Reclaim From Scary Movies (and Make Sweet Again)
Choosing a name for your baby girl is a big job for parents-to-be. You find yourself carefully considering every name (first, middle and last) in the family and scouring list after list on the baby name websites. But have you considered watching horror films to find a name? If not, you’re missing out!
Whether or not you’re a fan of horror movies or scary, edge-of-your-seat thrillers, the best of these film genres certainly bring to mind some unforgettable female characters with terrific names. It’s almost as if you can’t make a scary movie without a great female name.
So, if you’re in the market for a Halloween baby name that’s sure to bring on the screams (of joy, of course), check out our list of the best female names from horror and thrillers that have stood the test of time.
Warning: There are some plot spoilers ahead.
Clarice from “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
Poor Clarice Starling. The FBI agent with the gut-wrenchingly beautiful name tried to stand up, stone faced, to serial killer Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” Even though she failed (but Jodie Foster totally succeeded at playing her), her name must live on.
The name Clarice had its best years in the last century when it ranked at No. 272 in both 1918 and 1925. It fell off the top 1,000 list after 1976, but let’s bring it back!
Regan from “The Exorcist” (1973)
Young Regan MacNeil never asked to be possessed by a demon. And Linda Blair — the then 13-year-old actress who played Regan and won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe — probably didn’t asked to be turned into the scariest, head-spinning-est, rotten-faced protagonist ever seen on the big screen.
The name Regan hit the top 1,000 at No. 750 in 1974, the year after “The Exorcist” hit theaters, and we’re willing to bet there’s a connection. The name then fell off the chart after 1981, the same year Ronald Reagan (spelled with an “a”) became President. In 2001, though, Regan had its best year ever.
Adora from “Sharp Objects” (2018)
The name Adora is nothing short of gorgeous. But anyone who read “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn or watched the recent HBO series based on the book and got to know the beautiful yet stingingly poisonous mother Adora Crellin (masterfully played by Patricia Clarkson) might feel pretty skittish about giving the name to their baby girl now.
But let’s look on the bright side. The gal can wear a silk nightgown while drinking an Amaretto sour like a boss. That counts for something, right?
(We wanted to include Adora’s daughter’s name, Amma, on this list, too — it’s so pretty! — but we’re still too freaked out by that finale. Give us a year, OK?)
Samara from “The Ring” (2002)
The name Samara hit the top 1,000 in 1997, but it really took off in 2003, the year after the horror movie, “The Ring,” came out. Sure, the character Samara Morgan (played by Daveigh Chase) was a vindictive girl ghost in bad need of a hairbrush and some detangler, but wow, such an exquisite name.
In 2017, Samara had its most popular year yet ranking at No. 324. We’re thinking there’s still plenty of room for this name to grow in popularity.
Rose from “Get Out” (2017)
Who can remember a year when the fetching flower name, Rose, wasn’t a beloved favorite. But then last year, Allison Williams played Rose Armitage, that creepy, two-faced psychopath in the thriller film “Get Out,” and we wondered if the name would hit full wilt.
The name Rose isn’t as popular a first name as it once was. In 1918, it was in the top 25 names for girls, but by the end of last year, it was only in the top 150. Let’s not let Rose be demoted to mostly middle name status, OK?
Alex from “Fatal Attraction” (1987)
In 1987, the same year as “Fatal Attraction” was in theaters and that bunny-cooking wench Alex Forrest (played brilliantly by Glenn Close) scared the pants back ON philanderers everywhere, the name Alex hit the top 1,000 chart.
But the cool and carefree name has been off the top 1,000 chart now since 2004. Sometimes, the female version of the name Alex is short for Alexandra, Alexis or Alexa, but we like the short, takes-no-crap version: Alex. And by “takes no crap,” we do not mean “boils your bunny” either.
Annie from “Misery” (1990)
The name Annie wants to be freckle-faced and light, but women with the name seem to carry a badass underlayer of feistiness, edginess and power. Think about it — Annie Lennox, Annie Oakley, Annie Leibovitz, Annie Potts, Annie Sprinkle, even Little Orphan Annie — and then there’s Annie Wilkes.
She is the nightmarish nurse-turned-serial-killer from “Misery,” the Stephen King book and its film adaptation (in which actress Kathy Bates, eh em, murders the role!).
The name Annie is a classic. It has lingered on top 500 girls’ names lists for the last century, and there’s simply no running her off — and we don’t suggest you try.
Peyton from “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” (1992)
The name Peyton hit the top 1,000 girls’ names in 1992 at No. 583. And perhaps we owe a big thank you to the movie “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” and its ruthless, revenge-seeking imposter nanny Peyton Flanders (played by Rebecca De Mornay and her infamous ice-blue eyes).
Parents-to-be haven’t shied away from giving this name to their baby girls though. In fact, the name Peyton has only been growing in popularity. It’s been in the top 100 since 2008.
Star from “The Lost Boys” (1987)
Every ’80s girl who saw “The Lost Boys” secretly wanted to be Star (played by Jami Gertz) — you know, a girl with impeccable boho fashion sense, lots of hot vampire boyfriends and a name that actually twinkles. But she was kind of a villain, right? The way she helped the vampires lure in Michael by flirting with him at the boardwalk beach party.
Anyway, the name Star has made the occasional blips on the top 1,000 list of girls’ names, but it remains a unique pick that we, too, would follow just about anywhere.
Carrie from “Carrie” (1976)
The name Carrie had a good 100-year run — from 1908 to 2008 — staying solid in the top 1,000 girls’ names. But then what happened? It had its most popular year in 1977, and then it was downhill after that. I’m sure it had NOTHING to do with all the “Carrie” movie posters depicting a horrifying blood-drenched Carrie White (aka, actress Sissy Spacek).
But we think it’s time the name Carrie made a comeback. After all, Carrie White was just an earnest, misunderstood telekinetic and a victim of school bullies and her cruel mom. It’s not her fault she burned them all and her school and her house to the ground.
Margaret from “Carrie” (1976)
We don’t know everything that happened to the raving, fanatically religious Margaret White (played by actress Piper Laurie) before we met her in the movie “Carrie.” But man, she was off her rocker. It’s just a period, Margaret! It’s not a curse!
Still, we shall not let one nutty Margaret sully the glorious name. The name Margaret was the No. 4 name 100 years ago, and it still remained at No. 132 in 2017. That’s a darn good track record. Plus, it has a lot of good nicknames, including Maggie, Margie, Madge, Marg (with a hard “g”) and Peggy. For a more creative shortened moniker, try Meg, Maisie, Margo or Margot, or even Greta.
Ivy from “Poison Ivy” (1992)
The 1992 movie “Poison Ivy” isn’t a film that holds up in the #MeToo era, if it ever held up. But lots of us know better now that street-smart teenage girls like Ivy (played by Drew Barrymore) aren’t walking around seducing perfectly innocent, powerless dads named Darryl (played not that innocently by Tom Skerritt).
Ridiculous ’90s movies aside, the name Ivy ranked No. 108 in 2017, its most popular year in the past century. Clearly, there’s no lasting poison on this name.
Rosemary from “Rosemary's Baby” (1968)
Not once have we slept through the night since watching “Rosemary’s Baby” years ago. The horror film made women everywhere distrust “nice” overbearing neighbors, “vitamin drinks” and, well, husbands. The character of Rosemary Woodhouse (played by Mia Farrow) quite possibly endured every horrific crime against women, not the least of which was being told she was “hysterical.”
After that nightmarish portrayal, the name deserves atonement and rebirth. Rosemary has remained on the top 1,000 for the last century, and in both 2016 and 2017, it was in the top 500 names for girls. We believe in you, Rosemary.
Elle from “Kill Bill” (2003)
Who can forget the ruthless and vengeful Elle Driver (played by Daryl Hannah), also known as California Mountain Snake and the arch enemy of Beatrix Kiddo, aka The Bride (played by Uma Thurman). Elle is a savage and a well-dressed bombshell, but she can’t keep an eye in her skull to save her life, having one plucked out right after the other.
Of course, we still see you, Elle. The name Elle hit the top 1,000 chart in 2002 at No. 613, and in 2017, it hit peak popularity at No. 373.
Cora from “The Sinner” (2017)
The character Cora Tannetti (played by Jessica Biel) in Season 1 of the USA Network series “The Sinner” was no stranger to trauma even before she (very convincingly) stabbed and killed that guy on the beach while her husband and young son looked on. Detective Harry Ambrose (played by Bill Pullman) saw there was more to Cora than her knife-wielding ways, and you can, too!
The name Cora has been on the rise since the end of the 1990s. In 2017, it ranked at No. 83.