Last updateThu, 13 Aug 2020 3pm

The Most Ominous Signs in Movies for Halloween

Whether you're a scary movie buff or have just seen a few of the classics, you know one thing: the signs all point to disaster. Horror movie signs are made to be ominous and foreboding, to clue the audience in on bad things to come. The most memorable horror movie signs beg the characters to stop, think and turn back before they reach impending danger. But though the signs in movies indicate looming trouble or foreshadow events to come, the uninformed characters continue treading right into the danger zone, making for the most thrilling horror movie sequences. Here are six of the most unforgettable signs from horror movies (warning: some movie spoilers included).


Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho became an instant scary movie classic and the Bates Motel sign emerged as a haunting reminder of the terrifying events that occurred there. The 1998 remake proved to be just as ghastly as the original and the foreboding Bates Motel sign became an iconic movie insignia. In the film, the Bates Motel was the site of a slew of murders and the sign flashing between vacancy and no vacancy gave audiences the feeling that those who enter this peculiar place may not make it out alive. Throughout the film, the killer, Norman Bates, suffers from a split-personality disorder and switches between his personality and that of his controlling mother to carry out the murders. Bates had murdered his mother and her lover years before out of overwhelming jealousy.

Friday the 13th

The sign for Camp Crystal Lake became a legendary horror movie sign. It portrayed an average welcome sign for a summer camp, but later represented the location of gruesome murders. Camp Crystal Lake, or Camp Blood, as it became referred to after the deaths of campers, was the home of Friday the 13th killer Jason Voorhees. The movie is one of the most recognized horror films of the past few decades. This extended slasher series became a staple for scary movie nights in. To the superstitious, Friday the 13th is still recognized as a day when people are extra cautious that something could go wrong. And the Camp Crystal Lake sign is a haunting reminder that danger lurks in even the brightest places.

Jurassic Park

Though not considered a horror movie by some standards, Jurassic Park had its own share of gore and violence. The film, directed by Steven Spielberg, sets the tone for danger from the very beginning. As the unsuspecting guests enter the park, which hasn't yet been opened to the public, they pass a sign that reads "Danger! Dinosaur Area: Keep Out." The film is set millions of years after dinosaurs lived. Any logical person would've turned back around right then. But the characters pushed forward despite the warning and soon encountered the enormous, prehistoric creatures that wreak havoc for the rest of the movie.

The Shining

The numbers on the door of Room 237 in the Overlook Hotel aren't exactly a sign, but they do provide forewarning for events to come in this classic horror movie by director Stanley Kubrick. The eerie gold numbers later signify that something is awry within the room. The main character's son, Danny, is inexplicably fixated on the room. Room 237 becomes the site for horrifying events throughout the movie and even spawned a documentary of the same title. The documentary was directed by Rodney Ascher and examines five "secret meanings" within the 1980 psychological thriller.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven's 1984 horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street haunted the dreams of teens everywhere. The spooky Elm Street sign is bent and looks weathered, if not intentionally battered. The sign conveys the feeling that something is amiss on Elm Street. Audiences later discover that "thing" is a nightmare-haunting creature by the name of Freddy Kruger. Kruger is a terrifying boogeyman figure terrorizing the kids of Elm Street through their dreams. The tagline "Whatever you do, don't fall asleep" follows the film, casting a disturbing connection between your dreams and your worst nightmare.


Candyman is another horror film based on the existence of a fictional "boogeyman." The killer is discussed in the beginning of the movie through legend and tall tales, rather than as a known entity. None of the characters believe the Candyman truly exists. Two women try to summon him by saying his name five times into the mirror as in the legend, but nothing happens. The Candyman finally appears to prove his existence and terrorize the lives of those who summoned him. The notable signage here is rather unorthodox. At the end of the film the main character, Helen, walks into a room where the words "It was always you Helen" are painted on a wall. This painted sign predicts the events at the end of the movie, when Helen becomes the Candyman's successor.

These movie signs will forever trouble our memories as subtle indicators that something bad was going to happen. Designed to clue the audience in on things the characters don't know yet, these signs are carefully designed and constructed to serve as a cinematic road map to doom.


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