Masks are great at creating fear in horror movies. The uncertainty of what lies behind them (ideologically and physically) or the mask acting as the personification of a villain’s evil has a terrifying effect when done right. Today we will look at 10 iconic horror masks and what makes them effective.
Jack Griffin – The Invisible Man (1933)
Ironically Jack Griffin’s bandage mask reveals more about him than if he remained maskless. But the mystery it initially generates as we wonder what is underneath his bandages is what helps to draw everyone into the story.
Christiane – Eyes Without A Face (1960)
The mask Christiane wears while her face is being reconstructed is really unsettling. Its neutral expression feels lifeless and devoid of emotion, a far cry from Christiane’s actual face. Expressionless masks producing horrifying results is now a genre staple. But Christiane’s mask is effective more because of how it restricts her displays of emotion.
The Killer – Blood and Black Lace (1964)
Set in the fashion world Blood and Black Lace‘s killer uses a mask that obscures any defining features, to hide their identity. The mask’s pale and smooth nature recalls the look of mannequins and brings about the feeling of the uncanny valley because of how it makes the killer look human and inhuman.
Leatherface – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
What is scarier than someone wearing a mask made from human skin?
Michael Myers – Halloween (1978)
Blank, pale, emotionless, and with hauntingly dark eyes. Michael Myers’ mask embodies everything evil Dr. Loomis glimpsed when Michael was a child. It has no human feelings, no warmth, and the eyes, meant to give a window to his soul, are in shadow. Not a bad result for a cheap William Shatner mask.
Jason Voorhees – Friday the 13th Part 3 Onwards
Jason’s second mask is now synonymous with the marauding machete murderer. Its effectiveness comes from the fact that it gives away just enough about Jason’s appearance without ever fully revealing everything. Thus everyone is left to dread what is lurking underneath his iconic look.
Silver Shamrock Masks – Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)
Two factors make these accessories iconic. They are incredibly designed, managing to capture Halloween cultural icons in a definitive way. And the fact that they are not designed to hide killers. They are instead designed to entice and ultimately kill the children that wear them.
Irving Wallace – Stage Fright (1987)
The unmoving eyes of this owl mask really bring across Wallace’s predatory nature. As though he is constantly waiting for a moment to strike. Despite looking heavy enough to hinder the killer’s movement it really taps into a primal animalistic fear.
Button Face – Nightbreed (1990)
Everything about Button Face makes viewers feel uncomfortable. The dark buttons like Michael Myers’ mask effectively remove any empathy we could glean from someone’s eyes. And the off-kilter zipper brings to mind horrifying fables of people with their mouths sewn shut. A masterpiece of simple but effective terror.
Sam – Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Sam’s mask embodies the spooky spirit of Halloween. The mask has a homemade costume feel. Additionally, it evokes the terror and joy of the season with its happy stitched-on smile, and its overall look resembling sacks worn by hanging victims. But its childlike simplicity puts forward the glee one should approach Halloween with. There’s a reason Sam has become the new mascot for the spookiest time of year.
This ends our rundown of 10 iconic horror movie masks. Unfortunately, with only 10 spaces we had to exclude some fan-favourite choices. So what famous horror masks did we miss out?