My apologies to anyone who doesn’t like Halloween, because the month of horror-themed lists continues. The Purge is being released on DVD/BluRay today, and in honor of the home-invasion thriller I celebrate the variety of masks that are prevalent in horror flicks. I think there’s a reason that most workplaces don’t allow masks during Halloween. They’re just creepy and you never know whose face is behind it.
5 – Frank (Donnie Darko)
So I cheated on this one. Donnie Darko may not be a horror flick, but there was no way I could do a mask list and not include the haunting rabbit, Frank. Frank doesn’t do much to threaten Donnie, but it’s bad enough that he gives Donnie the exact countdown till the end of the world. I’m not entirely comfortable with how often he shows up either. He shows up with leisure, whether it’s just across the street from Donnie’s house, at the movie theater and even in Donnie’s living room. Donnie Darko is the modern day story of the Jimmy Stewart classic, Harvey. Frank is just a gruesome version of that imaginary rabbit.
4- Leslie Vernon (Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon)
Often in horror movies, when a protagonist unmasks the savage killer and exposes the true face, you lose that element of fear and mystery. Behind the Mask is able to remove the mask and still maintain horror because we know the evil behind it. The little-seen mockumentary Behind the Mask follows “regular” guy, Leslie Mancuso, as he trains to be the next famous movie slasher. This movie is different because you know exactly who the guy is behind the mask, if fact at times he can even be likable. But as soon as he puts on his face paint and dons the mask, he changes his persona from a forgettable “normal” guy to that of an unstoppable killer. The mask not only gives this lunatic a sense of power, but has the appearance of a large stone baby head. We all know that babies and horror movies are always a bad combination.
3 – The Strangers
If the home invaders in the Strangers didn’t have masks, it would be a suspenseful movie, but because they are wearing sack-cloth masks and doll masks, the movie becomes terrifying. I think the worst thing about the situation in the movie is that this malicious group of killers randomly chose a house and terrorized the couple inside just because they were home. The masks in this movie not only gave the killers anonymity and struck fear, but it also gave them the appearance that they were more of them than there really were. If nothing else, this movie (and The Purge) will teach you to not answer the door in the middle of the night.
2 – Tomas (The Orphanage)
Imaginary friends are bad enough. But when they wear masks it’s even worse. That is the case in The Orphanage. Laura is trying to turn an abandoned orphanage in the country into a home for disabled children. Her son, Simon, immediately gets an imaginary friend named Tomas. However, Tomas wears a burlap mask created by your worst nightmares. Also, he wears a long old-fashioned tunic, which gives him the appearance of a demonic Raggedy Ann doll. Did I mention that the imaginary friend Tomas can threaten Laura and push her down? Perhaps Tomas isn’t as imaginary as originally thought.
1 – Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
There are so many iconics horror monsters that use masks. They have all vilified and ruined their respective masks forever. In Friday the 13th part 3, Jason Vorhees took a simple hockey mask and forever made people wary of hockey goalies. Michael Myers took a white William Shatner mask and became a menacing boogeyman known as The Shape.
But the winner of the creepiest movie mask goes to another slasher that went one step beyond. The mask of Leatherface, in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, is actually sewn-together human skin. Just imagine getting being imprisoned at the rusty old homestead in middle-of-nowhere Texas and your best friend is skinned. And when you try to run away, you are being pursued by a chainsaw-wielding maniac wearing the face of your friend. I’m pretty desensitized and even that disturbs me a little.
Honorable Mention – Dog-Bear (The Shining)