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Top 5 Most iconic horror masks

Think of horror films, and it won’t take long for you to stray into the realms of the masked villains that have donned many a bedroom wall since the 80’s.

So iconic are many of these masks, that they themselves are entirely symbolic for the series. I want to today state my case for which masks are the most iconic and why, but first, I want to bore you all with a little bit of film theory. Yay!

I think that, in horror films, the mask is a shortcut. It’s a method for creating the feeling of the monster as a ‘relatable other’, that is that we can see that they are human shaped - human like, and we naturally would wish to bestow human-like morality on them. The mask acts as a buffer that says, “umm, guys, there may be something a little odd about this guy”. You know, a bit like fedoras and strong body odour. The mask therefore is the physical representation of something with ol’ Hitchcock had to come up with a compelling and timeless story in order to achieve. Poor bastard.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against masks by any stretch of the imagination, to the contrary, i’m quite keen on the idea. You know video games with unskippable tutorial levels? The mask is the good guy developer who says nay to that painful experience.

And this brings me back to the main topic at hand, because masks, as well as a shortcut for creating the cinematic ‘other’, are also bloody fantastic for marketing. That isn’t to say that they are always guaranteed iconography. Look at the Saw series. If I asked you to pick the most iconic thing from that series, it would be Billy the doll, rather than the Pig mask, despite the fact it’s reoccurring. When the focus is drawn to the mask successfully though, they can be truly successful on their own.

So, here are the 5 masks that I think are most iconic from across film history!

5) The God Mask -The Purge

The Purge has about as many masks as the rest of the horror film anthology combined. That’s not a confirmed fact, by the way. When the All-American Purgers are out performing their god-given right to chop people to pieces - so long as they’re poor- they may wish to don a mask.

The reason the god mask from Purge: Anarchy is quite so popular is difficult to know, but I have a theory. Back in the day, when you were browsing horror masks on Ebay, ready for Halloween, you’d see mostly those over-the-top latex needless gore type masks. Whilst they’re still there, now there are the cheap-fix masks. What can be easier than buying a blank mask, scrawling ‘God’ on the forehead, adding a little bit of blush to the cheeks. Bam, instant markup. I seem to remember as well that it appeared in the UK TV spot for the film as well, which may have contributed.

4) Leatherface’s mask-Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Leatherface’s mask is not just iconic because of the way it looks, but because of what it’s made out of in the films; bits of people. I can’t even begin to consider how much that would smell on the poor guys face. Although, it may add another reason why people want to run away from him. So important is it to his image, that he is literally named after it.

3) Ghostface Mask - Scream

Scream was by its very nature very self reflexive of the genre, and so the decision to include a mask with this was quite telling of the story they wanted to tell about the state of horror movies. The mask was to become just as iconic as those that the film was making a comment on.

Ghost face’s exaggerated features made the mask slightly unnerving, and it’s simplicity has meant you can see it pretty much everywhere.

2) The Shatner Death Mask - Michaels Myers

DId you know that Michael Myers’ mask was a Will Shatner’s face? It’s apparently from the 1975 film The Devil’s Rain. Myers mask is now iconic for it’s blank expression, pale appearance, and overall unnerving qualities. It is instantly recognisable out of context, and that surely earns it a spot on the list.

1) The Hockey Mask - Jason Voorhees

There really could only be one number one on this list. Whilst all the other masks have been made famous in their own right, Jason Voorhees mask recast the way a pre-existing mask was perceived. That is of course the hockey mask. I can’t begin to imagine the days before there was an instant association between hockey masks and the Friday the 13th films, but with the rather creepy way the masks look in general, perhaps it’s inevitable that they ended up pasted on the face of one of the most iconic characters in cinema history.

Did I miss someone out? Do you disagree with my ranking? Let me know!

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