The 15 scariest masks in film history

  • The 15 scariest masks in film history

With Halloween just around the corner, there's nothing quite as exhilarating as a masked killer rampaging around and putting big holes in attractive people who are pretending they are teenagers.

We've seen many masks in films, some iconic, some a bit rubbish.

But which is best, most frightening and downright terrifying? Check out our rundown...

15. Nightbreed

In the 1990 fantasy horror which has become a cult favourite, based on writer and director Clive Barker's Cabal novella, features an unstable mental patient on the run from the police, finds refuge amongst a tribe of monsters in a mythical placed called Midian.

The mask of the murderous Dr Decker, complete with buttons for eyes and an asymmetrical mouth with a zip, is unsettling in its blank-faced simplicity.

14. Curtains

The Canadian slasher movie features six young actresses auditioning for a role at a remote mansion, only to find themselves the subject of bloodlust from a masked figure.

The unremarkable slasher featured an usual horror mask of an old hag, complete with wild ginger hair and brandishing a rusty sickle.

13. The Hills Run Red

Fans of a mysterious horror film dubbed 'the scariest movie ever made', find out that Babyface, the demented killer in the movie, is actually real and after their blood.

Despite the film not being up to much, the creepy baby doll mask wrapped in barbed wire with a wild set of teeth makes for a truly terrifying mask.

12. The Orphanage

What's scarier than adults in creepy masks? Children in creepy masks of course! As 2007 Spanish horror 'El Orfanato' recounts the story of a woman who brings her husband and adopted son to her childhood home.

Before long, her son starts to talk of an invisible new friend he made called Tomás, a child wearing a sack mask with a creepy face drawn on, over his head.

The face-drawn sack mask is disturbing enough, but throw it over a young boy and that ramps up the horror to pant-wetting heights.

11. Motel Hell

A 1980 low-budget horror comedy, seen as a satire of films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left, featuring a murderous famer who sells on his victims' flesh as the area's most delicious smoked meat.

The bloodthirsty farmer sports a giant chainsaw and a pig mask, which is even more unpleasant owing to the fact that it seems to be smiling.

10. The Strangers

An under-the-radar house invasion flick from 2008, which saw a couple terrorised by three creepily masked people in their vacation home, for seemingly unknown reasons.

The three assailants, dubbed 'Dollface', 'Man in the Mask' and 'Pin-Up Girl' are terrifying in their simplicity, as well as the three's unsettlingly ambiguous motives.

9. Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins sported this mask while being transferred from place to place to stop him from taking a nibble out of anyone in the infamous 1991 thriller with Hopkins starring as the cannibalistic serial killer.

While not the same as the other masks on this list, instead of hiding his identity, it used for the protection of other people to stop Dr Lector claiming any more victims.

Despite that, it only serves to make the cannibal more menacing, with his deranged eyes and the bars over the mouth hole really emphasising just how dangerous the chianti-loving serial killer is.

Of course, Hannibal Lector could have looked a lot different if he'd have ended up with any of the other masks he tried out:

8. Smiley

A slasher for the internet era, the character of Smiley is an internet myth who stalks and kills users on a ChatRoulette-style website after they type "I did it for the lulz" three times.

While the concept sounds a bit like it was written by your un-computer literate aunt, the smooth, fleshy, featureless face, with a jaggedly-stitched smiley face carved in, makes it a hideous and unsettling prospect.

7. Saw

The Saw series started as a locked room horror mystery and developed into all-out gore porn, but a few things remain, including Billy the puppet, the audio tapes and the horrific pig mask.

Jigsaw's son was supposed to be born in the Chinese 'Year of the Pig' and the killer symbolises the rebirth of his victims if they survive his barbaric 'tests'.

According to the writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan, the mask was supposed to be a rotting pig, but the one they received from production was less than satisfactory, so they had long black hair and pus running from its eyes and nostril added to make it more gruesome.

6. The Purge

The innovative 2013 flick in which, for one night a year, all crime is legal and the emergency services are unavailable, which prompts roving gangs commit acts of violence and murder with reckless abandon.

A gun-wielding group led by the Polite Leader, are all decked out in masks with hollowed-out eyes and insincere toothy grins.

While not downright terrifying like some of the masks on the list, the masks' exaggerated human appearance adds a new level of horror when their unwavering faces are capable of committing heinous crimes without reprisal.

5. Donnie Darko

While not a slasher, like most of the entries on the list, the supernatural thriller about a time-travelling teenager who commits a series of crimes after being manipulated by a six-foot bunny rabbit named frank.

While even a six-foot rabbit sounds adorable, it is actually a man in a rabbit costume wearing a terrifying home-made rabbit mask.

The mysterious and malevolent rabbit, with its grey mask complete with pupil-less eyes and large, crooked teeth provided many unsettling moments, including when Donnie tries to stab Frank in the eye, as he looks at him through his bathroom mirror.

4. Scream

When Scream came out in 1996, it deconstructed the slasher genre, while creating its own franchise, one with the villains wearing the famous Ghostface mask.

Throughout the Scream series' four films, the white rubber mask with black eyes, nose and mouth and black hooded robe has always stayed relatively the same.

Back in the early '90s, the mask was made by American fancy dress and accessories company Fun World and named The Peanut-Eyed Ghost.

In the script, writer Kevin Williamson only specified that the 'masked killer' would wear a "ghostly white" mask, and co-creator Wes Craven tasked a design company to come up with a mask to match his description.

Unhappy with the resulting masks Wes Craven agreed a deal with Fun World to use the Ghostface mask, which referenced Edvard Munch's classic painting The Scream, which was the mask that he had wanted to use from the beginning.

3. Friday the 13th

It's hard to believe, but Jason Voorhees' legendary hockey mask didn't feature in a Friday the 13th film until he donned it in Part III - it was his mother who was the slasher in the first, and in the second he wore a sack mask with a single eye hole.

In Part III, after murdering a boy wearing the infamous hockey mask the machete-wielding maniac slapped it on his own deformed face, and a horror icon was born.

The actual story goes that, for a make-up test, 3D effects supervisor Martin Sadoff, a keen hockey fan, lent the crew a goalie mask he had with him, as no-one wanted to apply make-up for the test.

Director Steve Miner loved the mask on Jason and remade the mask for Jason, with differently-placed holed punched in and Miner put on the red triangles to give it a unique appearance.

Since then, Jason has worn the hockey mask in the subsequent eight Friday the 13th sequels, as well as the 2009 reboot.

2. Halloween

The villain from John Carpenter's legendary slasher series, which begun in 1978 and has featured in nine Halloween flicks (he wasn't the antagonist in Halloween III: Season of the Witch), as the unstoppable, superhuman-strengthen personification of evil Michael Myers.

Owner of one of the most iconic horror movie masks with one of the most famous backstories: confronted with the task of finding a frightening mask for the villain, production designer Tommy Lee Wallace found a $2 mask of William Shatner as Star Trek's Captain Kirk.

The featureless mask was painted white and eyes reshaped with scissors to give an eerie, emotionless look - to suit the personality of brutally cold and murderous Myers.

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The 1974 horror terrified audiences, and still does to this day - the tale of the murderous Leatherface, who brutally murders all of a group of young friends, who are travelling to their grandfather's grave after reports of vandalism, except a girl called Sally who he brings to dinner with his cannibalistic family, as they attempt to eat her.

The tale of Leatherface is especially ghastly as it was inspired on the Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein, who would wear his victims' skin, and craft their body parts into such items as bowls, lampshades, belts and wastebaskets.

In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Leatherface actually wears three different masks, dubbed on-set as the 'Killing Mask,' 'Old Lady,' and "Pretty Woman.'

Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface, commented: "The reason he wore a mask, according to [director] Tobe Hooper and [co-writer] Kim Henkel, was that the mask really determined his personality. Who he wanted to be that day determined what mask he put on.

"So when Drayton comes home with Sally, Leatherface is wearing the 'Old Lady Mask' and he's wearing an apron and carrying a wooden spoon, he wants to be domestic, helpful in the kitchen.

"At dinner he wears a different face, the 'Pretty Woman,' which has makeup."

The most disturbing thing about Leatherface's masks is that while all of the other masks on the list have been created and made out of plastic or materials with the purpose to frighten, Leatherface removes the faces of his victims and puts them onto his own disfigured complexion - surely that's more terrifying than anything else.



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