If there's one thing great horror villains demand, it's a super-creepy mask. Any scythe-wielding psycho worth his salt is going to need some kind of face get-up before the bloodbath can begin. It's like it's written in their contract or something.
That means the pressure's on for screenwriters trying to ratchet up the fright factor.
"It's hard to come up with a horror movie with a masked killer that hasn't been done before," said Simon Barrett, screenwriter of "You're Next," this summer's latest (and hotly anticipated) scarefest, hitting theaters on Friday.
In the film, the dysfunctional Davisons come together for a family reunion at a rundown mansion in the woods (well, naturally), only to be targeted by a band of home invaders armed with (gulp) crossbows and wearing simple yet sinister animal masks -- a tiger, a fox, a lamb.
Great masks tend to fall into one of two categories -- the grotesque (scars, gashes) or the eerily benign (a single expression, fixed and implacable, hiding the killer's true emotion). Here, some facemask faves:
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
WHO The Phantom
Lon Chaney Sr., called "the man of a thousand faces," was perhaps best known for this 1925 silent film's disfigured guy with a jones for sopranos.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
As if the roar of the chain saw wasn't enough in this 1974 flick, he's also got a mask cobbled together from his victims' flesh. Sorry, dude, but you'll get nowhere on "Project Runway" with sloppy stitching like that.
WHO Michael Myers
Yes, a William Shatner mask from "Star Trek" (stretched and eyes widened) was the basis for this deathly white look in 1978.
FRIDAY THE 13TH
WHO Jason Voorhees
No, that's not New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist comin' atcha, it's poor, misunderstood Jason. He didn't don his infamous hockey mask till "Part 3" of the franchise (which ran from the 1980s to the '90s), but it's become so iconic you'd swear he'd worn it from the start.
Now here's a mug only Salvador Dali could love -- or Edvard Munch, whose legendary painting "The Scream" was the basis for this drippy mask in 1996.
So much for "Charlotte's Web." Or Miss Piggy. Jigsaw, who uses a pig-face disguise when kidnapping his victims (before subjecting them to horrific psychological torture), takes pork to a new level in this 2004 film. You'll never look at bacon the same way again.