With the release of You’re Next — now in theaters — and The Purge, 2013 has been a good year for nightmare-inducing masks. But masks are, of course, a proud horror movie tradition. The following list includes some of the most iconic slasher film masks, as well as a few cult favorites and more recent offerings.
25. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Aw, he’s kind of cute! But not cute enough that you’d want to get anywhere near that little creep.
24. Satan’s Little Helper (2004)
By itself, the mask is really just silly. In conjunction with the things the killer does, however, those red eyes and giant teeth are appropriately frightening.
23. Terror Train (1980)
The killer in Terror Train wears multiple masks, but Groucho Marx might be the most unnerving. It’s those exaggerated features — imagine that nose and those eyebrows being the last things you see.
22. Scream (1996)
Simple but iconic. The Ghostface mask no longer packs the punch it once did — thanks, in part, to the stoned version popularized by Scary Movie — but it’s still not anything you want to see staring in through your window.
21. Donnie Darko (2001)
Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit, Frank? Why are you wearing that stupid man suit? Mind. Blown.
20. The Wicker Man (1973)
But animals are supposed to be adorable! These masks are almost cute, and that helps them get under your skin.
19. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)
Human masks are the scariest masks of all, especially when they’re covered in makeup and showing just the tiniest hint of a smile.
18. Stage Fright (1987)
Logically, I know owls are predators, but it’s hard to find them threatening. A giant owl mask, on the other hand, is horrifying.
17. Tourist Trap (1979)
So many masks, all of them designed to scare the crap out of you. The bad wigs just add to the effect of mannequins brought to life.
16. Nightbreed (1990)
Buttons for eyes may remind you of Coraline, but the Clive Barker adaptation Nightbreed predates Neil Gaiman’s story. Either way, upsetting.
15. V/H/S (2012)
One of the most disturbing vignettes in V/H/S is Second Honeymoon, in part because of the simple plastic mask — complete with pink lips — that the killer wears.
14. Curtains (1983)
The hag mask has inspired countless nightmares over the years, even if most people have forgotten Curtains. The creepy Six Flags mascot Mr. Six seems to be a direct descendant of this monstrosity.
13. Bruiser (2000)
Blank masks are always scary, but the tiny eye holes somehow make this worse.
12. The Strangers (2008)
It almost feels like cheating to combine two always effective masks: the burlap sack and the porcelain doll. And yet, there’s no denying the titular strangers would scare the crap out of you if they showed up at your front door.
11. Slaughter High (1986)
The only thing scarier than a killer wearing a benign old man mask? A killer wearing a benign old man mask dressed like a jester.
10. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
By all means, show me the serial killer behind the mask: Anything would be less chilling than the ghastly minimalist mask Leslie Vernon dons.
9. Motel Hell (1980)
Saw’s Jigsaw obviously got the idea for his minions’ pig masks from Motel Hell. There’s something distressing about a human wearing an animal’s head, especially when said human is also wielding a chainsaw.
8. The Hills Run Red (2009)
The combination of a baby doll mask with barbed wire and very bad teeth is almost too much to endure. The 2009 film wasn’t a classic, but this abomination is at the top of the mask game.
7. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The mask is minimal, but it’s scary for what it holds back — it’s the only thing keeping Hannibal Lecter from eating your face. Anthony Hopkins’ eyes do a lot of the work here, too.
6. The Orphanage (2007)
Children are inherently creepy, but throw a sack over a kid’s head and you’ve got real nightmare fodder. The clincher here is the garish makeup — note the rosy red cheeks.
5. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
It wasn’t until the third Friday the 13th film that Jason Voorhees donned his iconic hockey mask — but once he slipped it on, movie history was made.
4. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Throughout the film, Christiane looks so close to being normal, but her mask is just the right level of inhuman. The uncanny valley effect makes Eyes Without a Face one of the most frightening horror classics.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Leatherface’s mask is stitched together from human flesh, which is as creepy as it is industrious. At least he uses every part of the people he slaughters?
2. Halloween (1978)
It’s a Captain Kirk mask spray painted white, and yet it’s one of the most memorable and terrifying masks in horror movie history. The expressionless features force the actor to communicate through unsettling head tilts.
1. White Chicks (2004)
This is supposed to be a COMEDY?! I’m still having nightmares.
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