ByJancy Richardson, writer at
To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'
Jancy Richardson

What's in a name? When we see a horror movie in its beautiful, polished final form, it's easy to forget that creating a film is a long, collaborative process with many chops and changes along the way. Sometimes several titles are tried on for size before the movie finds its true name. The following are 26 of the best and brightest horror movies of the 20th and 21st centuries named for their working titles. See if you can guess the movie from the early title!

1. The Faces

The Strangers

2. Head Cheese

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper's script was originally named Leatherface before being changed to Head Cheese and eventually settling on the title we know and love.

3. Chicks With Picks

The Descent

4. Scary Movie

Scream. The working title for Scream was eventually homaged by horror spoof Scary Movie.

5. Here Comes the Boogeyman

Jeepers Creepers

6. Don't Peek

Darkness Falls. The movie actually got through five titles before settling on Darkness Falls. The others used were The Tooth Fairy, Fear of the Dark, The Tooth Fairy: Every Legend Has Its Dark Side and The Tooth Fairy: The Ghost of Matilda Dixon.

7. The Black Hills Project

The Blair Witch Project. The very earliest title for the script was The Blair Witch Tapes.

8. Rabbit

Chained. Director Jennifer Lynch had a great deal of trouble getting her movie past the ratings board, and was forced to change the name of the film. Evidently censors were uncomfortable with such a gritty, visceral film being given an innocent-sounding name such as Rabbit!

9. The Warren Files

The Conjuring

10. The Further


11. Greyshot

Cloverfield. Both titles were kind of random: Greyshot is the name of a bridge in Central Park and Cloverfield is a boulevard in Santa Monica where production company Bad Robot had its offices.

12. Infant Terror


13. Length: 70 Minutes

[REC]. Other titles suggested were Bombers and Origin.

14. The Babysitter Murders

Halloween. Carpenter originally wanted the murders to happen over many days, but budget constraints meant condensing the action to one night to save cash on locations and costumes. If you have to pick one night for your horror movie, you might as well pick the scariest night of the year, right?

15. Flight 180

Final Destination

16. Blood Buddy

Child's Play. Blood Brother was also an early suggestion.

17. Long Night at Camp Blood

Friday the 13th

18. Day of the Woman

I Spit On Your Grave. The movie was actually released as Day of the Woman in 1978 but was renamed and resold in 1981 after a poor reception the first time around. I Spit on Your Grave is a title pinched from a 1959 crime drama by distributor Jerry Gross.

19. Star Beast

Alien. Writer Dan O'Bannon wrote the script under the name Star Beast, but changed the title after he realized how frequently the word 'alien' cropped up in the screenplay.

20. Blood Relations

The Hills Have Eyes. Craven didn't like the final title but went with it after test audiences reacted well to it.

21. The Birthmark

The Omen. Initially called The Antichrist, studio heads found the name a little unsubtle and pinched The Birthmark from a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

22. Cotton

The Last Exorcism. The film was originally named for main character Reverend Cotton Marcus, but was sent to movie theaters under a codename: Scrutiny.

23. Krug and Company

The Last House on the Left

24. The Sabre-Toothed Tiger

Deep Red. Argento wanted to continue the trend of calling his thrillers after animals, but stopped when other directors started to copy him!

25. Night of Anubis

Night of the Living Dead. Romero named the movie for Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of death and mummification, but changed it after realizing this reference would be lost on most movie fans.

26. They Come from Another World

Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The studio tried many titles, including Sleep No More, Better Off Dead, Evil in the Night and World in Danger before settling for the final name for theatrical release.

Be honest, how many did you guess correctly?

Source: IMDb. All images: Dimension Films. I picked images from Scream to avoid giving any visual clues for the titles.


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