What does it take to make a good horror movie? Chills, thrills? Hair raising, spine tingling scares? The fact that someone is lurking in the dark, or behind that scary corner? Maybe it's the disgusting and creepy things oozing from places they shouldn't be. Perhaps it's just the fact that you know someone is about to die in a horrible way, leaving them scattered in a thousand pieces. Yes to all of these things, but in most cases the scariest factor of the movie is the murderous villain themselves, often times wearing a grotesque mask to hide their identity and intent. A petrifying mask can haunt you and leave you thinking about the film for days after its end. A good horror-themed mask adds the perfect amount of blood-curling effect needed for a good scare. To honor these subtle but frightening key factors, I've compiled a list of the scariest masks in horror ever made.
Warning: Contains Spoilers!
1. The Phantom of the Opera (1943) and (1962)
Not exactly considered a horror movie by many people of this generation, The Phantom of the Opera still gave some scary chills back in those days. The story follows a deformed phantom who haunts the Paris opera house, murdering those around him in order to make the woman he loves a star. The film originally starred horror legend Lon Chaney, while the later versions listed above were portrayed by Nelson Eddy and Herbert Lom.
2. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
A movie that revolves around guilt, Eyes Without a Face is the story of a father and surgeon, Dr. Génessier, who in a fatal accident disfigured his beloved daughter Christine. He then, with the help of his assistant, kidnapped beautiful women in order to restore his daughter's long gone beauty.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 - 2013)
Based on serial killer Ed Gein's story, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most brutal films ever made - especially back in the '70s. Many remakes have been done, but in my particular opinion, the original 1974 mask is the one that looks most realistic and sadistic compared to the others. TTCM is about a group of kids headed to the country that end up being terrorized by a family of cannibals. A new Texas Chainsaw movie is currently in the works, but we haven't seen anything regarding the looks of the new mask.
4. Alice Sweet Alice (1976)
Starring Paula Sheppard as Alice and in the role of her younger sister Karen, a very young Brooke Shields. Alice Sweet Alice tells the story of a troubled adolescent girl who becomes a suspect in the brutal murder of her younger sister during her first Communion. The film is originally known by three different titles. First being released under 'Communion' in 1976, then 'Alice Sweet Alice' in 1978 and 'Holy Terror' when released again in 1981.
5. Halloween (1978)
One of the most recognizable masks in horror, the Halloween mask worn by serial killer Michael Myers has been an icon of the horror community since 1978. There's been several sequels to the Halloween franchise (and one around the corner) but the masks didn't seem to change much through the films (not counting the Rob Zombie mask). The mask remains one of the most iconic accessories in horror.
6. Tourist Trap (1979)
A group of friends wind up stranded at Mr. Slausen's museum, where the mannequins are very lifelike. Tourist Trap has some of the freakiest masks ever seen on film - and it comes from all the way back in '79.
7. Terror Train (1980)
The fourth film from famous scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, Terror Train is about members of a college fraternity who play a cruel prank on the shy kid. Three years later, they are having a costume party on a train when suddenly they realize that someone onboard is killing off the guests one by one.
8. Motel Hell (1980)
Be careful out there on the road. These days, you're not safe anywhere, if you ask me. Motel Hell is part parody, part horror movie. The film follows unsuspecting road travelers being kidnapped by a farmer named Vincent. Watch out for his motto: "It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters."
9. Friday the 13th (1981 - 2009)
A mask that we all know and love, the Friday the 13th hockey mask worn by Jason Vorhees has been around since the early '80s and it doesn't look like it will be put away any time soon. With yet another movie in the works (due 2017), the mask has changed a bit from time to time, especially the one used for Jason X.
10. My Bloody Valentine (1981) and (2009)
I don't honestly think that there's much difference between the original mask and the one from the '09 remake. Still sort of creepy to think that just anyone can get a gas mask at your local hardware store and scare the living wits out of you, though.
11. Curtains (1983)
Curtains shows the story of a group of actresses that's targeted by a masked killer while staying at a prestigious director's remote mansion where they are auditioning for a role in a movie. Curtains takes you behind-the-scenes of a crazed serial killer wearing a fantastically creepy mask who is on the loose killing people with a non-traditional scythe.
12. Slaughter High (1986)
Clowns, jesters - they sort of all look alike to me. A crazy jester on the loose and thirsty for revenge, Slaughter High revolves around eight different people being invited to their high school's 10-year reunion. But what they don't know is that the poor kid who suffered due to a bad prank gone wrong (thanks to them) is the main host, and he's seeking some payback.
13. Nightbreed (1981)
Set in a dark fantasy world, Nightbreed takes character Boone to an abandoned cemetery called 'Midian.' There he discovers a tribe of monsters and outcasts known as the 'Nightbreed' that hide from humanity. Along with his girlfriend and his psychotherapist, he must figure out why he's the alleged serial killer in question. Wearing what it seems to be a potato sack with a zipper for a mouth, it's not nearly as scary as other masks but it will still creep the hell out of you.
14. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Another movie on the list that doesn't need much of an explanation, The Silence of the Lambs has become one of our all-time favorites. With several sequels and a current TV show, the story shows the dark side of brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Beside the backstory of 'Buffalo Bill,' the movie revolves around Dr. Lecter and a tenacious detective named Clarice and who could forget that memorable half-piece asylum mask? The true star of the film, surely.
15. Scream (1996)
Followed by three sequels and a TV show on MTV, Scream has one of the most noted masks known in a film franchise. Based partly on the real-life case of the Gainesville Ripper, Scream has been a household name since 1996 and keeps audiences wanting more. The mask is worn by a series of different killers throughout the films known as 'Ghostface.' One of Wes Craven's (R.I.P.) most popular films (next to A Nightmare on Elm Street), the mask has been solidified in pop culture. You can find them among the most worn masks during the Halloween season.
16. Terror Tract (2000)
Terror Tract is a dark comedy-horry anthology film that includes three different stories. The stories are all pretty good too, I may add. But the one that really scared the hell out of me was the 'Come to Granny' segment. This serial killer posing as an unsuspecting grandmother wears a mask so hideous you'll want to shield your eyes from a double-take. I'm telling you, between his voice calling out "Come to granny" and that horrendous mask, I gotta admit - I had nightmares for days.
17. Bruiser (2000)
From zombie master George A. Romero comes Bruiser, the story about an ordinary man who followed the society's rules, just to have it come back and bite him in the ass. One day he wakes up and instead of his usual face, he discovers his face is completely gone and has been replace by a white featureless mask.
18. Valentine (2001)
One of my favorite films, Valentine is about celebrating love, friendship, and some good ol' fashioned revenge. After a hideous attack during a Valentine's day dance, poor Jeremy decided to take his love for murder to the next level. Dressed in a black trench coat and wearing this a cutesy cherub mask, Jeremy goes around and exacts revenge to those who did him wrong that (supposed to be) lovely day. She loves me... she loves me NOT.
19. Saw (2004)
"I want to play a game." Who can forget the memorable line from our favorite psychopaths? Seven films later, Jigsaw kept cutting people up and trapping them in clever, terrifying games. Jigsaw himself really never wore the mask, but rather his puppet named 'Billy' donned the face with a simple touch of makeup. Tah-dah, Jigsaw was born! Oh, and let's not forget about the occasional stinking ugly pig mask.