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Horror Movie Vocabulary | Student tips

4 min read
10 February 2021
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There’s something about horror films that fascinate us – we love being scared, especially in the comfort of our own homes. But have you ever stopped to think about how these terrifying movies can help you learn English and develop your skills?

English language movies are rich and vibrant, so there’s bound to be a genre that suits your interests. We've picked to explore how horror films can raise both your adrenaline and your English levels.


Defining horror genres

There are so many types of horror films that make this genre rich and complex, from classic genre-defining movies to ridiculous horror satires. Take a look at few of the more notable genres below.


Classic horror films

These tend to be based on literature or old folklore monsters. One of the most memorable movies is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) which is based on the horror novel of the same name.



These have less of a budget than big studio films. Perhaps one of the most entertaining examples of this genre is ABCs of Death (2012). This film was directed by 26 directors who were each assigned a letter of the alphabet and had to create a scary short film based on that letter.


Slasher films

A slasher film typically involves a violent psychopath that stalks and murders people. One of the most famous is Halloween (1978) which was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”


Psychological thrillers 

These can be way more terrifying than monster movies, but they often contain supernatural elements like ghosts and spirits. The Babadook (2014) is one-of-a-kind in using these elements to represent the destructive power of grief.


Horror film vocabulary

Now let’s have a closer look at some of the more common horror genre vocabulary. These are words you’re likely to come across while watching a horror film, so pay close attention!


A traditional story or folklore sometimes regarded as historical but not proven to be true



A dead body, especially of a human being



A reanimated corpse that has transformed into a creature capable of movement but not of thought; they often feed on human flesh



A person suffering from a mental disorder with violent social behavior


Black comedy    

A film, play or literary work that presents a tragic or distressing subject matter in a funny way



Referring to an invisible world of ghosts and spirits


Spirit / ghost

A supernatural being without a   physical body



Overwhelming sorrow,   especially caused by the   death of a loved one



Extremely bad or wicked



A person with magic or supernatural powers



To make someone feel   frightened



The effects on a person’s   mental and emotional state


If you aren't a horror fan, then why not get stuck into a different genre movie, or TV show. You can also learn English when gaming or listening to podcasts. Or if you'd like to move abroad to learn English, take a look at what courses we offer. 


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