From Freddy Krueger to Hannibal Lecter: The 10 Most Iconic Horror Masks in Film

A selection of horror movie masks designed to haunt you in your dreams.

The Purge Election Year And another iconic horror movie mask Image Universal

Horror films are widely known as creators of nightmares and there is one little trick that producers know will make us feel extra afraid to turn out the lights: this is of course, a scary mask.

This often surreal and always sinister addition to a film immediately makes the villain take on an iconic appearance that we would all rather forget. Scream, The Silence of the Lambs, Halloween and many more have created masks that are immediately recognisable for all the wrong reasons.

The Purge films in particular have offered a variety of horrific masks that stay in your mind long after the credits have rolled. To celebrate the home entertainment release of the franchise’s newest addition, The Purge: Election Year, available on DVD and Blu-ray on December 26th from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, we count down the top ten iconic masks that have haunted our dreams for decades …



 The Scream Mask

After the huge success of this 1996 horror classic, it would be a struggle to find anyone who doesn’t recognize and cower in fear at the sight of this iconic mask. For the twenty Halloween’s that have passed since its debut, it is guaranteed that someone will turn up with ‘Ghost Face’ on just to make you jump every time you turn the corner. The distinctive white face and hollow facial expression instill fear into all those who have had the misfortune to be around one. Surprisingly, this classic face was actually an off-the-shelf Halloween mask found by director Wes Craven whilst looking in a location home!



The Halloween maskEven though this mask may not be as elaborate as those involved in modern horrors, the eerie white face stands alongside some of the most iconic horror masks of all time. Released in 1978 telling the story of Michael Myers escaping from an asylum to kill again, this horror classic continues to be just as recognisable to modern audiences as it was on its release. Due to its tight budget, the story of finding the iconic Halloween mask is a very interesting one. After having only $2 to spend on a mask, the prop department searched a costume store and found that the cheapest mask was that of William Shatner from Star Trek. Later spray-painting it white, reshaping the eyes and teasing out the hair, Shatner became the frightening face we know today!


The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs.Recognised as one of the most twisted and menacing thrillers of all time, The Silence of the Lambs simply had to be in this line-up. Antony Hopkins portrayal as Hannibal Lecter cannot be described as anything but terrifying. Unfortunately for audiences, the most unnerving part of all is his beady, soulless eyes that can clearly be seen and seem to stare right through you. Oh and the fact that it’s the only thing stopping him from eating your face! The only fact that makes this mask slightly less horrifying is that it was originally inspired by the traditional fiberglass goalie mask. The designer, Ed Cubberly, added mental bars across the mouth to make the mask appear more sinister, and I think we can all agree that this worked.


The Strangers

 The Strangers movie.

The unfortunate thing about this horror film is that you not only have one mask forced into your brain, but two; and you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll slide into your mind just as you’re about to drift off to sleep. If an evil sack and porcelain doll turned up at your door whilst on holiday, it’s safe to say your trip is ruined. The simplicity of the classic theme of a doll’s face and a sack being used as masks only add to this film terrifying plot. As the movie had been filmed entirely on hand-held cameras, the iconic masks are obvious in shots that show the victim with the murderer out of focus behind.



The Jigsaw puppet This thriller is based on a game that you never, ever want to find yourself playing. With a notorious serial killer setting the rules, it is pretty obvious that this isn’t going to be your ordinary board game. The creepy clown behind of all of this (named Billy the Puppet) has an instantly recognisable appearance that you desperately want to forget. With even the friendliest of clowns giving some people the shivers, it’s understandable that one with red eyes, swirls for cheeks and a puppet like mouth is the creator of many nightmares! Jigsaw’s puppet was made completely from scratch by the films creators, as they wanted a unique villain, rather than an ordinary puppet that had been altered.



Pinhead from Hellraiser.With a wonderful slogan of ‘he’ll tear your soul apart’ it is clear that this film is not one for the faint-hearted. This is supported by the sinister mask of Pinhead. Looking like acupuncture gone wrong, this white latex mask with iron pins sticking out all over the place is amongst a number of odd-looking demons terrorizing our screen. It is fair to say that the make-up artist had their work cut out for this one! This particular cenobite was influenced by a number of different designs including punk fashion, Catholicism and visits made by its creator (Clive Barker) to S&M clubs in Amsterdam and New York. The unique formation of pins had been cleverly placed so lighting would create shadows that swirl around his head.


Friday the 13th

Jason Voorhees

There has never been a more iconic hockey mask than the one used in this intense horror. This slasher franchise built of 12 violent films has featured on our screens since 1980. Possibly one of the most infamous masks in horror history, the Jason hockey mask, actually did not feature until the third installment on the series, but it will remain in our minds forevermore as the face of evil. Originally based on the innovative hockey mask by Jacques Plante in the late 1960’s, the Friday the 13th franchise adopts this iconic appearance while changing the material to be brittle so it was able to crack, creating the well-known axe mark.


A Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddy Krueger in the flesh With the goal of many horror films to make people struggle to fall asleep at night, none other does it quite like this film. Due to the premise that the murderer only attacks once you have fallen asleep, it is understandable that most people would have slept with one eye open after watching. As if the storyline wasn’t frightening enough, the murderous Freddy Krueger has a nightmare inducing face that leaves all of his victims stunned. With yellow teeth, burnt ears and bloodied skin that barely covers his face, this epic mask completes the sinister concept. Although this is now a common mask featured at most Halloween parties, Robert Englund had to sit through a painstaking three hour makeup session to be transformed into Freddy, a long process when he only had under 7 minutes of screen time!


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw massacre. Cannibalism, psychopaths and masks are not something you would want to see over a Sunday dinner. However if you love a horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre offers all three in one thrilling film. One of the many horrific elements of this film is the mask ‘leatherface’. Stitched together from human flesh, this creepy addition shows just how psychotic the murderers were. Highlighting, like many other horrors that you should never venture to an isolated place without looking over your shoulder! This mask had been such a pivotal part of the film that the script was initially entitled Leatherface, changing to Head Cheese and then finally The Texas Chainsaw Massacre we know today.


The Purge: Election Year

As mentioned, this film offers a collection of surreal and threatening masks that make those enjoying the annual Purge seem all the more menacing. With its story taking place during an election, the opposing views to the Purge have made this film is the most violent and intense of the series. Alongside a variety of terrifying masks the film has previously created, this films statement pieces are those imitating iconic American symbols such as the Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam. However, they are in no way like you’ve ever seen them before. The process of choosing such iconic masks had been incredible difficult for producers, eventually considering over 100 masks for the final take!

The Purge: Election Year is available on DVD and Blu-ray on December 26th from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

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