There is something really creepy about a mask. Maybe it’s the anonymity of the person behind it, the design of the mask itself or the negative associations we connect to them because of horror movies and masked villains. Sometimes masks remind us of some terrifying image, but as is usually the case, it is the mask itself that now scares us. It’s a symbol of something. But it’s not always bad. There are some that have great connections, maybe even empowering. Several of the masks, including some which did not make the list, are just simple, harmless, even friendly looking masks that have since become frightening because of the way they were used in their respective films. All the masks here are amazing, every single one.
In many of the entries on this list, the mask itself has become an iconic image, known by many and universally accepted as a stand-in for the character who wore it. Others are less well-known, but still have a power to them. A nice thing about this list is that I’ve only included movie masks from good movies. I’ve also excluded masks that are overly simple or even a little silly. Sorry Wesley and Zorro, your masks just needed a little more pizazz to make the cut.
You’ll realize that most of the masks are from horror movies, or at least worn by villains. This is because if you’re good, you usually don’t have to wear a mask. Though all the superheroes out there are super mad at me saying that. I just felt it would get a little ridiculous if I included all the different superhero masks. Ok, so let’s get down to it. Here are the 15 most amazing movie masks of all time.
15. The Mask Of Loki – The Mask
Apparently created by Loki, the Norse God of Mischief, but not the Loki from The Avengers because that would be a copyright violation, the mask of Loki in The Mask is one that many wish they had for themselves. When put on at night (it doesn’t work in the daytime), the wearer becomes controlled by their most basic desires, their subconscious personality. The mask also enhances almost all of the wearers ability, like enhanced strength and speed, the manipulation of reality, the ability to transform, increased sex appeal, I mean c’mon, Jim Carrey gets Cameron Diaz, especially the 22-year old Cameron Diaz. If you forget what 1994 Cameron Diaz looks like, hit up YouTube real quick. The mask looks much different off then on, but even when it’s off, I really dig the look of it, like Ancient Scandinavian wooden art. It’d be a nice wall piece.
14. The Phantom’s Mask – Phantom of the Opera
The now-famous half mask worn by Erik, the Phantom of the Opera, was originally meant to be a full face white mask (as worn by Lon Chaney in the original film). While designing the stage production of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera, the mask needed to be changed into a half mask in order to see the actor’s facial expressions on stage. This required them to change the Phantom’s deformities to only cover half his face as well (again, compare that with Lon Chaney’s face in the original film). Today, that mask has become incredibly well known by everyone who’s anyone. The fact that it’s the symbol for one of the greatest theater productions of all time helps as well, but the movie was cool, too. I like it at least. Weird seeing Leonidas singing but still good.
13. Predator Mask – Predator
The amazing dreadlocked mask of the Yautjas, or as us normals folks call them (Predators), is just too cool to leave off this list. The predator’s mask is able to enhance their vision and offer a few different vision styles. The mask also allows the wearer to mimic voices, run diagnostics and act as a breathing apparatus as well. Most of all, these masks make the Predators look like crazy, alien Rastafarians. They are basically the epitome of bada**. Not tough enough for the Arnold, but they gave it a college try.
12. Jane Mask – The Purge/Alice, Sweet Alice
The main mask in the creepy film, The Purge worn by the “polite stranger” and his posse, is called the Jane Mask. Many copies have been made at this point, but I believe the original that was used in the film has since been discontinued. The creepy smiling mask is reminiscent of a few others we’ve seen over the years, particularly the mask used in Alice, Sweet Alice. There’s something uncanny about a smiling face covering up an evil face underneath. It’s a concept that freaks me out. The grin becomes an evil grin almost, making it impossible to stop seeing once your brain has told you it’s no good. In The Purge, the smile mixed with the politeness of the purgers is a perfect combination to give out that eerie vibe.
11. Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs
Hannibal Lector likes to bite people, this much we know about him. Whenever he is transported between prison cells, Hannibal is forced to wear the mask that covers the lower part of his face, or his mouth, as doctors call it. This is so he doesn’t try and chomp on a guard, like the one whose ear he took off that one time. The mask has become synonymous with Lecter even though it has been used and seen in many other situations. This is probably the only mask on the list that is only on screen for a brief amount of time too, but it may show Hannibal Lecter as we picture him in our minds, when he is as we like him, contained.
10. Guy Fawkes Mask – V for Vendetta
Part of the reason why the Guy Fawkes mask has become so popular is because of the symbol that it came to represent. In an age of political demonstration, people have taken up wearing one of these masks (see Anonymous) to signify their unity and their anonymity. Since the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 that saw Fawkes attempt to blow up the House of Lords, however, the English people have dressed up and burned a masked effigy of Fawkes in celebration of the event. The stylized mask we see today was created by illustrator David Lloyd, and it has actually helped preserve the memory and the history of Guy Fawkes as they were on the verge of being forgotten about.
9. Sam – Trick ‘r Treat
It still amazes me that this little guy and his movie Trick ‘r Treat aren’t more widely known. In what I think is easily the best Halloween movie ever made (yeah, you read that right), Sam is the star of the show, even if he usually only lingers on the periphery. His burlap sack mask and button eyes—which might be a nod to Jason Voorhees’ original mask—and his orange pyjamas make Sam’s costume extremely scary, especially with his childish frame. Like what is this creepy little kid staring at? His creator Michael Dougherty, set out to make an iconic Halloween character, and while he might not be necessarily in iconic territory just yet, he’s knocking at the door. There is no doubt in my mind that Sam is exactly what Halloween has been missing, and I guarantee that anyone out there who loves Halloween as much as I do and has seen this movie is shaking their head in agreement with me.
8. Rorschach Mask – The Watchmen
Say what you will about Zack Snyder’s The Watchmen, Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) and his mask are awesome. The mask is a fabric in which white and black liquids move around within, changing with pressure and temperature fluctuations, and altering the design on the front. It looks like a Rorschach inkblot test, which is said to give personality indicators based on what the patient sees in the inkblots. The mask tells a lot about the character of Rorschach in this same way. First of all, he sees the mask as his beautiful “true” face and the real face below it is ugly. The mask populates depending on how Rorschach is feeling, and it is always black and white, never grey, showing his outlook on life. Most importantly, it looks super cool and his face is never the same twice.
7. Leatherface – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Leatherface is a dude who wears other people’s faces on his face. What’s scarier than that? Said to be inspired by the very real killer, Ed Gein, Leatherface has scared people out of their wits for over 40 years. Although he wears three masks in the original film, the “Killing Mask” is definitely the most iconic and eerie. All three masks, including “the old lady mask” and “the pretty woman mask,” are ways of determining Leatherface’s personality at that time. Depending on what mask he wears, Leatherface feels and acts differently. He may feel like setting the dinner table, going out for a night on the town or cutting someone’s head off with a chainsaw, these are the decisions he makes on the daily.
6. Ghostface – Scream
The Ghostface mask worn by the killers in the Scream franchise is based on the famous painting “The Scream”, by Edvard Munch. While the mask existed as a Halloween costume before Scream was filmed, it was because of its use in the Scream franchise that made it a holiday sensation ever since. While the villains themselves may not be the scariest because they switch so often, the mask and the voice of Ghostface is what ties them all together. The misshapen eyes and elongated howling mouth are perfect at hiding any and all features of the wearer, allowing for both males and females to have a turn. Ghostface always wears a black hood as well, which covers any trace of the wearer’s hair. Scary Movie did a number on the scare factor of the mask, but it’s definitely creepy and deserving of making the list.
5. Frank – Donnie Darko
Frank’s horrifying bunny mask has been a hit ever since movie goers found out about this little gem of a film. A twisted version of the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, Frank acts as Donnie’s guide, helping him correct a dying world. The mask itself was made by the character of Frank as a Halloween costume because, what teen doesn’t want to be a giant deformed rabbit on Halloween? The twisted ears, the huge toothed grin and the bulbous eyes, this mask is scary without any context needed. Add in the voice and the fact that it’s a huge walking, talking bunny, and it gets a whole lot scarier.
4. Batman’s Cowl – Batman
As with all of Batman’s things, his cowl is much more than it appears to be on the surface. Obviously the main point of it is to hide his identity as Bruce Wayne, but it also has had several defense mechanisms installed on it throughout the years. It has several vision features, it can echolocate, it has antennas in the ears, and it is also heavy duty armor. The cowl looks cool too, hiding the face of one of the most recognizable heroes in the world. The one thing I will say is whoever designed it should have checked up what a bat looks like because they were way off.
3. Jason – Friday the 13th
It isn’t until part way through Friday the 13th Part III that Jason Voorhees first dons his classic hockey mask. Prior to that he was just a freaky little kid (Friday the 13th) or a big old freak wearing a burlap sack over his head (Friday the 13th Part II & III). While we may not have known it at the time, this version of Jason would end up being one of the most iconic movie characters of all time. Still to this day, whenever I see a 7ft tall man with a machete walking towards me, I run. Jason steals the mask from one of the characters, Shelley, right after he kills him. The first time he wears it, he walks out onto a dock nonchalantly, mistaken as Shelley, and shoots one of his victims with a harpoon. Looking back, that scene was pretty underwhelming, but I doubt anyone could have imagined how recognizable that mask would become because of it.
2. Michael Myers – Halloween
The story of Michael Myers’ mask has made its internet rounds several times by now, so you probably already know that the weird, expressionless white mask that Michael wears in the Halloween franchise is based on a William Shatner mask. If you didn’t, the Michael Myers mask is a based on a William Shatner mask. In fact, the first Halloween movie actually used a Shatner mask, making some small changes. The straight features hide the wearers face in a really uncanny way, which has certainly added to its terror over the years, not to mention that Michael has killed over 100 people while wearing it. Those images have to count for something. Saggy cheeks, matted black hair, ghostly white (no, I’m not talking about Keith Richards), the Michael Myers mask is scary even without the connection to a horror icon.
1. Darth Vader Mask – Star Wars
Maybe the Darth Vader mask doesn’t strike fear into people like some other iconic masks, but no one would ever argue it deserves this spot in the list. I would go so far as to say that the Vader mask is the most recognizable mask in the world, and it satisfies both the light and the dark side, so everyone’s happy. The mask is so necessary to the Star Wars franchise that they found a way to preserve it for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Shaped like a skull to induce fear, the mask also included an air pump to increase air flow and ventilator for a super cool sound effect. I’m not sure of any of the other features or what they do, but I liked Vader a whole lot better with his mask on. I know the mask is supposed to be scary, but both me and Luke jumped back in fright when Vader took that bad boy off. Cover that face up, my man. Keep it out of sight. There are children nearby.