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The 5 Most Iconic Movie Sound Effects

The 5 Most Iconic Movie Sound Effects

By Steven Romano

Oftentimes we gush over our favorite scenes, lines, and characters from movies, but all those things and more would be nowhere without the audio engineering magic that makes them reverberate in our minds forever. Sound plays the most important role of all in film, with some effects even being celebrities of sorts. For your listening pleasure, here are the five most iconic movie sound effects!

1) T-Rex Roar (Jurassic Park)

One of the most defining movies of the ‘90s, Jurassic Park more than proved it had the chops to stand among Stephen Spielberg’s other masterpieces, as well as eventually falling into the “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” category of films. The dinosaurs were the true stars of Jurassic Park (sorry, Jeff Goldblum), but a prehistoric monstrosity is only good as its roar; case in point: the T-Rex. Combining the sound of a baby elephant’s bellow with that of an alligator, tiger, and other beasties, the T-rex’s deafening roar rings in our ear drums till today.

2) Darth Vader Breathing (Star Wars)

Not considered very charming in social situations, only Darth Vader was able to achieve the impossible: Make wheezing ominously intimidating. Regardless of causing even the most hardened of Rebellion commandos soil their uniforms in terror, Vader’s breath reminded the audience that beneath the imposing, rigid exterior was a feeble man struggling to stay alive, trapped forever within a veritable prison born of his own descent into darkness.

3) Predator Clicking Noise

The Xenomorph from Alien is, hands down, the greatest villain in sci-fi horror history, but the one thing it lacked was a signature sound to send a chill up your spine well before it even appears. Think about it, when was the last time you watched any of the Alien flicks and thought, “Hear that? Oh man, it’s a-comin’!” The Predator from the titular film, however, has no such insufficiency, giving the characters on-screen (audience included) a case of the jitters upon hearing its insect-like clicking vocalizations. So simple, so frightening.

4) Tarzan's Call

Dubbed “the victory cry of the bull ape” in the series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan’s famous yell is undeniably recognizable. Even someone with a cursory knowledge of the films—or hasn’t seen them at all—knows who the yell belongs to (you really would have to be living in the jungle not to know). There’s plenty of heated debate in Hollywood over where Tarzan’s call originated from. Of them, one claim is that actor Johnny Weissmuller (who portrayed Tarzan in the original movies) performed the yell himself, while others argue it was the combined recording of a baritone, tenor, and hog caller.

5) The Wilhelm Scream

Last, but far from being the least, it’s impossible to not have heard the Wilhelm scream at some point in your movie-watching life—whether you realized it or not. The shrill shriek of anguish was made famous in the 1953 film The Charge at Feather River (the sound named for the character who uttered it), though it’s first known appearance was actually in 1951’s Distant Drums. In spite of the misnomer, the term stuck, appearing in a multitude of films and television shows since (it's even utilized in Disney's A Goofy Movie of all places). In fact, it’s become a bit of a nerdy game to pick out the Wilhelm scream when watching a movie (c’mon, admit it!).

Did we miss any?

Tags: movies, jurassic park, top 5, sound effects

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About the Author
Steven Romano

Like Captain America, Steven Romano is just a boy from Brooklyn. When he isn't contributing to The MindHut and other geeky websites, Steven's hard at work writing his first novel and comic book scripts. Follow him on Twitter @Steven_Romano, and swing by his blog: stevenromano.tumblr.com

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