50 Magnificent Movie Masks

Burlap Bag - The Orphanage (2007)

The Mask: A sack worn by Tomás (Óscar Casas), a child whom Simón (Roger Príncep) befriends at the orphanage run by his adopted father.

But why is Tomás wearing it?

Why It's Magnificent: Like Jason Voorhees before him, Tomás' use of the sack as a mask is both simple and effectively chilling - a sign of desperation.

Sound Of The Mountain (1954)

The Mask: A theatrical mask of a child which is sent as a gift in this Japanese drama about the growing relationship between Kikuko (Setsuko Hara) and her father-in-law, Shingo (So Yamamura).

Why It's Magnificent: Sure, it's a mask, but it's also a metaphor for how the characters like to either hide their own feelings, or dramatically unmask them in a torrent of emotion.

Sarah & The Goblin King - Labyrinth (1986)

The Masks: Ornate creations worn by Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) and the Goblin King (David Bowie) during a delirious ballroom dream sequence.

Why They're Magnificent: 'Fabulous' is probably a more apt word here.

Particularly Bowie's demon-head-on-a-stick, which looks like his mask is being held up by a skeletal hand.

Alex - A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The Mask: A long-nosed mask worn by Alex (Malcolm McDowell) when he and his droogs break into a house and assault a woman.

Why It's Magnificent: The mask acts as both, well a mask, and foreboding - its unavoidably phallic, which makes it the perfectly horrible thing for Alex to wear while carrying out his violent acts.

Mask of Satan - Black Sunday (1960)

The Mask: A spike-lined metal mask that's used by an executioner to kill Princess Asa, who's been accused of being a witch.

Weirdly, when she's unearthed 200 years later and the mask's removed, she's still quite fetching…

Why It's Magnificent: It really doesn't get more grisly than this; this is the kind of macabre mask that'll give you sleepless nights for weeks.

Pig Mask - Saw (2004)

The Mask: Basically a pig mask worn by killer Jigsaw and his accomplices.

It's meant to be a tribute to the Year of the Pig, which is when Jigsaw began his grisly work.

Most chilling: the pig has hair.

Why It's Magnificent: It's the last thing you're expecting in this first Saw film - a film full of unexpected surprises - and genuinely disturbing.

Dollface, Man In The Mask, Pin-Up Girl - The Strangers (2008)

The Mask: A trio of chill-inducing masks all worn by the faceless assailants who break into the holiday home of Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman).

Why They're Magnificent: The Man In The Mask sort of looks like a scarecrow, while Dollface resembles exactly that - a doll come to malevolent life.

If these three broke into our house at night, we couldn't be held responsible for the reactions of our bladders.

Buttonface - Nightbreed (1990)

The Mask: Worn by David Cronenberg as the creepy Dr Decker, this mask comes with buttons for eyes and a zip to make breathing a little easier.

Why It's Magnificent: It's really difficult to figure out exactly what it is - is it human flesh, or a sack, or some kind of pencil case gone wrong?

Also, how on earth can he see with buttons covering his eyes?

Mrs Tredoni - Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

The Mask: A weird, vaguely translucent mask that sort of looks like a frozen-faced Betty Boop.

When paired with a bright yellow rain coat, it's uncanny and unsettling in equal measure.

Why It's Magnificent:
It's not often that slasher movies feature killers who wear a female mask, making this both unique and scary as hell.

Pig-bear - The Shining (1980)

The Mask: Blink and you'll miss it.

With things going a bit crazy in the Overlook Hotel, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) stumbles upon a room where a man is being serviced by somebody in a disturbing pig-bear suit and mask.

Why It's Magnificent: It's weird, horrible, unexpected and - brilliantly - unexplained.

Afterwards, you're not even sure if you saw it at all…

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.