Thinking about it now – it could just be all the weird naked stuff going down in this big mansion that brings out the creepiness of the situation more than anything. One thing is for sure – the masks certainly don’t help. But hey – this is what happens when rich people get bored, right? It’s either become a super villain or start ritualistically boning each other, or you can go for both and start worshiping the devil or some kind of therianthropic sea monster or something.
Personally – if I were rich I wouldn’t stop wearing stupid masks and worshiping things. I’d buy a boat and spend my days having neotantric sex parties and hunting mermaids. Who is going to stop me?
4. The Moleskin Masks in Kansas City Confidential
This is proof that no matter how nice you try to make it look, you just can’t wear someone else’s skin on your face without looking like a lunatic. The kicker here is the nose. With everything else so eerily shapeless like it is, why give the masks a nose like that? It’s all just plain unsettling – like some kind of twisted bullshit you’d see a Freudian nightmare.
Yet another film that supposedly inspired Reservoir Dogs, the idea here is that the four men involved in the robbery must always wear the masks to protect their identity not just from police but from each other as well. It’s a detail that is later taken advantage of by our vengeful hero of the film.
For those of you interested, the film is public domain so you can actually view the whole thing at various places online, YouTube included.
3. The Scramble Suits in A Scanner Darkly
These are the perfect disguises because anyone who looks at them is too busy violently seizing to successfully identify who might be under them. Seriously – couldn’t they just wear a grey suit or something? Do they have to freak everyone out with their insanity like this? In a world where the number one problem is a drug it just seems very counter-intuitive for your day-to-day uniform to be personifying a terrifying mescaline freak out trip. How is it even possible to achieve an accurate interrogation while wearing one of these things? Every five minutes the transcript would read, “Seriously, dude… you’re really freaking me out.”
This film was crazy. Drugs are one of the hardest things to represent in films and this one certainly managed. The secret is to make the visuals secondary to the performances themselves, something you can tell they knew to do. All the long ramblings and Alice In Wonderland logic in the dialogue of each scene – it’s pretty obvious that the actors in this film were more than familiar with drugs. Of course considering the cast, it’s not exactly like we didn’t know that already.
2. Jack’s Information Retrieval Mask in Brazil
This one kind of sets itself from the rest because not only is it used to disguise the wearer for the purposes of torture-related anonymity, but its primary function is to just freak us all the hell out. So in that respect, mission accomplished. To me this mask seems like the result of Terry Gilliam sitting in a chair and thinking to himself, “What’s the worst thing I can possibly imagine?” This is saying a lot considering Tideland.
It’s fun to note that Gilliam went so far as to secretly show this film to critics and win a “Best Picture” award by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association to finally make Universal agree to keep the movie’s very amazing and very depressing original ending. The man was dedicated to completely and utterly crushing his audience.
Oh, and before you ask – yes – someone out there makes replicas of this thing. So if you’re willing to shell out some cash you got yourself the perfect Halloween costume, or, if you please, a really nice sitting-around-the-house baby mask.
1. Mrs. Doubtfire
Chills… Chills to the bone.
Here’s the difference between this and all the others on this list: Mrs. Doubtfire was more than just a mask, she was a whole other persona. She wasn’t being used for a one time security sneak or rich guy sex party; Mrs. Doubtfire was there to stay. She was there everyday, shelling out folksy wisdom and care. Watching with quiet distaste as a rival man was becoming a part of the family.
And while her true self was nothing more than a misguided father who only wanted to see his kids, the implications of her are amazingly scary. Imagine if she wasn’t so good intentioned after all. What if Mrs. Doubtfire turned out to just be some stranger who just wanted to get close to them. To be part of the family. Or what if the ruse kept going and the father got crazier the closer this rival man got to his wife and kids. No one would suspect that an old lady could kill, would they?
Imagine that moment where the kid walks in on her peeing, and the sheer terror he must have felt at that moment knowing that this soft spoken old lady was something far more sinister than anything his little brain could have ever thought up. Even after he learns who she is – how much you want to bet that the image, the concept, will haunt him forever. He’ll never meet another person without wondering. His relationships, his life, it’s all over.
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