Instantly Recognizable Movie Sounds

Just as brands use sound to make an impression, the biggest movie studios in Hollywood have carefully crafted sounds that become instantly recognizable to moviegoers. Like Oz working behind the velvet curtain, sound designers use technology to mix familiar noises into something new, distinct, and unforgettable. Take for instance, the frightening T-rex roar in the original Jurassic Park, which is an amalgam of elephant, tiger and alligator roars (plus the breaths of a whale), or the proton packs in Ghostbusters, a filtered blend of noises from an engine turbine. Watch this video and listen: how many of these sounds you recognize?

So, sounds can excite movie lovers, and similarly, they can also inspire TV watchers. Devoted fans of BBC’s Dr. Who will recognize the singular sound of the departing TARDIS—a sound so beloved, it’s been incorporated into a cookie jar.

One instantly recognizable sound that’s been used so frequently in movies that it’s become an inside-joke is the Wilhelm scream, a stock sound first used in the film Distant Drums (1951). Since then, it’s been repurposed in many movies for scenes depicting a man that’s been shot, falling, hurt in battle, and much more. See how many times you’ve heard this trademark scream in this compilation below.

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