Ok, so this question's title isn't very clear, so let me explain:

I'm looking for examples of when the villain of the movie has some identifying sound like clothing that makes noise, spurs on his boots, an identifying footstep gait, a tracking device etc. and clever uses of this sound to add suspense in a scene - such as that hotel scene in "No Country for Old Men" when the villain is walking closer to the closed door and all you hear is the beeping of the tracking device, which is absolutely brilliant use of off-screen sound in a movie to create suspense.

I'm writing an essay for a director to show him how he can use sound to his advantage in his upcoming feature he has in a planning stage and I want him to realize how important sound is to the film as well as try to get him to add a special element like a tracking device or sound the villain makes which can add so much more tension to his chase scenes.

And I don't want to just write about it, I want to show him examples from movies where this has been done with great benefit.

So far, I only have these:

  • No Country for Old Men
  • Jurassic Park (T-Rex footsteps)
  • Lord of the Rings (the goblins in Moria, you only hear them before you see them)
  • I Am Legend (the first night you see Will Smith sleep in his bathtub without knowing why, and you hear the things outside his windows)

If any other movies quickly come to mind could you please list them? That would be very helpful!

Thanks in advance!

5 Answers 5


One of the most iconic sounds in cinema: Darth Vader's breathing!

  • How could I forget that one! I remember one of the Episode 3 teaser trailers began with a black screen and just that sound effect - and instantly everyone knew exactly what it was. What an impact that has had on the industry.
    – Utopia
    Jan 10, 2011 at 1:01

The footsteps of the murderer walking upstairs in Rear window

The motion tracker in Alien - It was used in Alien to create suspense when it was detecting something that wasnt an Alien (a cat), and the same trick was used twice in Aliens...


You might want to check out a previous post that is pretty related: Best Sound Design for a Villain

I was watching some re-runs of Prison Break the other day (season 3 I think) and there's a villain character who when appears has a little musical motif when we see him. That's a random one that's popped in my head lol

  • Hey thanks! I asked that question way back then but I was gearing more for the use of off-screen sound which needs to be specifically scripted by the scriptwriter to make good use of it in the mix and edit of the film - is the musical motif you mentioned anything like that?
    – Utopia
    Jan 9, 2011 at 22:27
  • Seemed scripted enough - although non-diegetic in its use. It was actually season 4, not 3 lol Character called Wyatt I think. Always played a menacing little motif whenever he appeared on screen!
    – Andy Lewis
    Jan 10, 2011 at 13:23

M by Fritz Lang. M whistles a tune heard off screen.

  • Nice. Classics are too often over-looked.
    – Utopia
    Jan 10, 2011 at 1:00
  • This is exactly what came to my mind! In his awesome (and, i find, still relevant) book, Audio-Vision, Michel Chion refers to this as " the acousmetre". Something that's heard before it's seen. It makes a lot of sense too, because it raises a question in the viewer's mind, as well as creating tension through denial of information. Our imaginations can be very scary things. Jan 10, 2011 at 4:15

Let's not forget "Them!" (1954). Long before we ever see the giant ants, we hear their "shriek", and it usually is heard before they attack. Apparently that was made by looping a recording of a squeaky truck fanbelt. Sound design before computers! :)

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