Halloween is a relatively new celebration in Australia, possibly because in the northern hemisphere Halloween occurs in the darkening days of Autumn leading into the long cold winter nights. Of course for us it’s the beginning of Summer and we aren’t likely to be lighting any sacred bonfires to help us through the coming months. But we have started to take on the Celtic tradition of wearing masks and costumes on the last day of October and this can be a traumatic time for those among us who suffer from maskophobia.
Along with maskophobia (fear of masks) pediophobia (fear of dolls) and coulrophobia (fear of clowns) these three unnerving fears have been at the core of some of the most iconic horrors films of all time.
The psychology behind these three fears is similar in its grounding. They portray familiarity but that are unsettling and not quite real. They leave a feeling that something is just a little bit wrong. Freud referred to it as the uncanny, where an image is distorted but still recognisable. Take a clown for example, painted on smile, disproportionate clothing, giant shoes… seriously what is actually under there?
Pennywise, from Stephen King’s It (1990) is probably the most recognised clown of the genre but early this year there came a new painted face of horror. Eli Roth brought us Clown, a disturbing tale of a father becoming possessed by a clown suit he finds and wears to entertain kids at his son’s birthday party.
What makes this all the more grotesque is the Clowns disfigurement, an historical reference to the Middle Ages. Back then if a clown or jester didn’t make the king laugh they could end up mutilated to make them smile all the time.
Let’s face it any doll, even Barbie in fact especially Barbie, can be super creepy with those eyes that follow you around the room. Possessed dolls tap into our overactive childhood imaginations when we were open to suggestion and less rationale. Combine the doll with the clown and you get two phobia birds with one horror stone. Cue Poltergeist (1982)
The evil clown dolly is also cast in this year’s remake, you’ve been warned! And we can’t talk scary dolls without an honourable mention to Chucky and his Bride in the Child’s Play franchise. “Wanna play?”
But possibly the spookiest of possessed dolls is Annabelle. Why? Because this is a tale said to be based on a true story. That’s a whole new freak out dimension right there. This craziness actually happened.
We first see Annabel in The Conjuring (2013) where she caused all kinds of supernatural terror and then again in Annabelle (2014). While there are some changes to the story in the original movie the following claimed to be true about Annabelle:
• The doll moved on her own to the extent of relocating herself to another room in the house.
• She would write messages in child like letters saying “Help Us”
• The doll still exists. You can visit her at Warrens Occult Museum
Where to start? If you have maskophobia you need to avoid Halloween and horror movies altogether!
Here’s a quick horror mask top 5
1. Leatherface, Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Scary much? Yes! It’s made of human skin. It doesn’t get more macabre than that.
2. Michael Myers- Dead William Shatner, Halloween series.
No, really, it is William Shatner's face. Apparently it’s a death mask that was made for an episode of Star Trek. Don’t believe me hear it from Shatner himself.
3. Jason Voorhees – Friday 13th More remembered for the hockey mask, the sack with a single eye hole, reminiscent of the elephant man mask is worth a mention.
4. Ghostface – Scream movies
Not just a hidden identity, hidden identities! You just never knew who was underneath. Many killers, one face.
5. Doll Masks – Cabin in the Woods
Real nice, thanks Joss Whedon. Thanks a lot. I’m never sleeping again.