- Halloween (1978) – I know I’ve spoken of Halloween quite a few times, but it is impossible to think of horror movie masks/costumes without thinking of Michael Myers. Myers’ mask is one of the most iconic of all horror movie masks. It is a distorted version of everyone’s beloved Star Trek captain, Kirk. Due to budgetary constraints when making this movie, the mask that was picked out for Myers’ visage had to be cheap, and I’m glad it was so, because in this case, a simple, blank, expressionless mask works the best of all. Something overly complicated would have lessened the impact that Michael has on our psyche. His blank, expressionless stare, with his heartless eyes, is terrifically frightening. We see that he has no emotion in his stare, no love or hate, which makes him that much more fear-provoking. He is a killer just because that’s what he is. In the original Halloween it’s not established that he is Laurie’s brother, he is a killer just because, with no known motivation other than the evil that is inside him. No motive is scarier than having a motive, because someone with no motive can just as easily kill YOU.
2. The Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage) (1960) – Blank, expressionless, porcelain masks are utterly terrifying. Maybe it’s the expressionless-ness, like Michael Myers’ mask. We are only able to read what the person in thinking from the expression in their eyes. As humans we tend to look at facial features and expressions for cues on how to react to a person. Without the facial cues, we’re often at a loss. When we don’t know how to react to something, we generally react in fear, even when the person wearing the mask is not the villain. In The Eyes Without A Face, our villain is not the person who is wearing the mask, Christiane, but her father, Dr. Génessier, who is just trying to do what he thinks is best for his daughter. Due to a tragic automobile accident, her face has been destroyed, and he is just trying to find her a new one. No biggie, right? Prior to the medical community being able to perform a face transplant, he decides that it is up to him. He will kidnap women, cut off their faces, and then transplant them on his daughter’s. Sounds simple enough. Unfortunately though, the transplants are ultimately unsuccessful, and so his daughter is relegated to wearing that creepy porcelain mask. The surgery scenes in this movie are quite impressive, and extremely disturbing! Watch here for the facial surgery scene!
3. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) – The masks worn in this movie are the type of mask you can buy in a Halloween costume store for pennies. Just clear plastic, with painted on features. But somehow, they are some of the most terrifying masks of all. In this movie, the design of the villain is reminiscent of Don’t Look Now, as I stated in a previous post. The mask is simple, and it is utterly terrifying, and the only other aspect to the costume is a childish yellow raincoat. This is not a mask that I’d want to encounter in a dark alley, or even out in the open. Our title character if fascinated by these masks, and uses them to scare her little sister. She doesn’t just use one mask either, she wears masks on top of masks, so you never know what’s going to pop up when she removes the outer layer. It could just be her face, or another hideous mask, and this keeps us on our toes.
4. The Hills Run Red (2009) – Wow! This movie begins with a bang, a bloody bang. Seeing a kid take scissors, and cut off his own skin….it’s sickening just thinking about it. It hurts enough to get a cut, but actually slicing off chunks of skin, your own skin… man, you’d have to be doped up in order to even be able to do that, otherwise you’d probably pass out from the pain. The actual mask that is worn over the disfigured face is disturbing in its own right, a porcelain baby face? This is so unimaginable creepy you just have to see it for yourself.
5. The Strangers (2008) – Where did these masks come from? How is a simple, cheap, plastic mask that is supposed to be cute and innocent end up so creepy? These masks give me nightmares! Two of the three masks are made to look like dolls faces, and the other is just a simple burlap-like sack. Maybe the doll-faced masks are supposed to play on a fear that many have of dolls coming to life and killing and torturing us , such as Chucky from Child’s Play, or the Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll”, with ultra-creepy Talky Tina. In The Strangers, our protagonists are harassed by three menacing figures- “Dollface, Man in the Mask, and Pin-Up Girl”, for no reason. The villains only picked this particular couple because they were home. Again, like Michael Myers, there was no motive. They could just have easily chosen the house next door. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman just happened to be who they chose to torture this particular night. If you liked The Strangers, I would also recommend seeing Them (Ils), a French flick with a similar premise.