Masks can be the mark of a villain. With this year seeing the release of You’re Next and The Purge, masks are at the forefront of horror once again. From the early silent classics like Phantom of the Opera, to modern franchises like Saw, masks and horror have always gone well together. We’ve put together a list of our ten personal favourites.
10. The Hills Run Red
Babies are one of the most terrifying creatures on the planet. When you have a baby mask that looks like a horrific cross between Chucky and Leatherface, they are made all the more frightening. The film might not have been great, but we wouldn’t want to run into this masked villain on a dark night.
9. Motel Hell
There’s something very unsettling about seeing an animals’ head anywhere other than on an animal. Motel Hell is – for the most part- a silly horror comedy. But the empty, lifeless eyes of the pig mask worn by Vincent give us the creeps.
8. Alice Sweet Alice
Masks that resemble humans, with vacant, dark holes for eyes are the stuff of nightmares. The reveal of the mask in cult classic Alice Sweet Alice is still unnerving, and adds atmosphere to an already strange, disorienting film.
So Ghostface isn’t really terrifying, but the mask has become one of horror’s most recognisable symbols. When I was a kid, you were the most awesome person on the playground if you had one of these, especially the one that bled. It’s an easy Halloween costume, and an iconic, simple design that made a valid point – if you wear an easily available, mass produced mask – you’re not easily identifiable as the killer.
What’s more unpleasant than the thought of someone wearing a mask of human skin? The design of the mask is based on serial killer Ed Gein, who reportedly wore the skin of his victims. The scene in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre where Leatherface pets his mask for comfort has got to be the most disturbing, yet emotional scene from the franchise.
5. The Wicker Man
Small furry animals are supposed to be cute. But there is nothing cute about these guys. I think the lesson is pretty clear. If the community of a remote island wear these on their faces – you probably shouldn’t holiday there.
Blank masks are often more terrifying than their more grizzly rivals. When you have a mask that’s human like, yet lacking all human emotion, it’s scary. Michael Myers’ classic expressionless disguise is actually a Captain Kirk mask which cost under two dollars – yet it has become one of the most iconic symbols of horror of all time.
3. Black Sunday
We can only imagine what audiences in the 1960s made of this. The opening scene where the mask is hammered into Asa’s face is one of the most unforgettable in horror history. On top of that, it’s the notion of what’s under it – the fact that the mask serves to hide the gore, that gets your imagination going to unpleasant places.
2. Friday the 13th
Although Jason didn’t wear his famous hockey mask until Friday the 13th: Part III, it has been synonymous with his character since. It’s impossible to see a hockey mask without seeing Jason. The mask has gone through a number of revisions, (some worse than others), but the first incarnation of his trademark is still awesome!
1. Eyes Without A Face
At first glance, the picture above doesn’t really look like a mask. But in the context of the film, it’s worn by the disfigured daughter of a surgeon – who’ll stop at nothing to get her a new face. Again, it’s the concept of not knowing exactly what’s under there. Christine looks so normal, that when you are suddenly made aware that here face is static, it’s extremely eerie.