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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Masks


Masks are scary. And not just masks of scary aliens or wolves or demons. I know for a fact that there are people who find the above mask creepy, even though there is nothing inherently creepy about it. There’s no blood or fangs. There’s nothing sinister about it. It represents no gender, race or deformity. It is a blank form.

And yet, this mask elicits uneasiness. If you don’t think this is scary, think about Michael Myer’s mask. It is a white, featureless face. Or think about Jason’s mask. It’s just a hockey mask. Before Friday the 13th Part III, people used to wear it as protective equipment. Now you can’t see that particular mask without immediately thinking of a machete wielding psychopath.

So many of our current monsters wear masks, from gas masks to hockey masks to ghostface masks. The blank, expressionless face is inherently frightening to us. I’m not going wax philosophical and psychological about why I think this is. It’s a gut feeling and gut feelings don’t need much analysis. It’s the return of that base fear, the one that drives all fears; our fear of the unknown.

We derive so much information from the face: age, gender, race, culture (piercings? tattoos? make-up?), emotions, illness. The face is our go-to point for knowing a person. The faceless mask, the one that’s not just a monster’s visage, is inherently creepy because it is still human, undeniably, incontrovertibly, but still so alien. There is no information to be gleaned. There is nothing to tell you about the person behind the face. Unlike a werewolf face, which just howls evil, the faceless mask could be…anything. It is up to the wearer to interpret how to portray this face.

If I did want to go deeper, and started laying some psychology on the table, I’d say that the faceless mask shows us what we already know: When we get down to it, a person’s face doesn’t tell us anything about who they, no matter how many times we comment on someone who has a kind face or has devilish features or a sinister countenance or a gentle look. A person does not wear their souls on their face, no matter how much we wish they did.

That mask, the blank one with no clues of the humanity beyond it, reminds us, all too much, of the fact that the stranger next door could be anyone behind that smile and that wave.

That they’re all masks.


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October 23, 2012 · 8:45 pm

Clothes Make the Monster

I take my Halloween costumes very seriously. It takes a lot of prep-time to make sure that everything is perfect. It’s important that you never break character once in costume. If you do, the illusion is broken and Halloween loses all of its magic.

For instance, this year I’m going as a private eye. So, for the last two months, I’ve been reading detective novels in order to learn the lingo. Because of the intensive nature of this training, the speech patterns have become writ into my brain and I’ll be able to make wry, cynical comments laced with slang like, “frail” and “moll” and “dame” at the drop of a hat. Consider it a kind of voluntary brainwashing!

I’m also going to need the right clothes. So I’ve spent my time in the Goodwill and thriftshops. Not only are the clothes cheaper there, but they’re more likely to be authentic than something that you’d find in a normal retail setting. If you can’t find a pair of suspenders that would be found on a real 1940’s private detective, then you’ll need to start from scratch.

I’m also shaving off the goatee, plucking my eyebrows, cutting my hair and engaging in some light cosmetic surgery to better fit the model of a guy in the 1940’s.

Once I get my firearms license and buy a Luger from the rather shady, elderly German gentleman that lives over in JP, my costume will be all set.

Just remember: It’s no fun if you don’t take your Halloween costume deadly serious. Spend that extra time to research the fabrics that would be used in your mad scientist costume. A lab coat made of 100% polyester wouldn’t be safe around an errant Bunsen burner! Be sure to read up on original Vlad the Impaler so that you know whether or not your accent truly depicts how Count Dracula would speak, were he alive today.

Because when it’s time to be scary, authenticity is what truly counts.

Dylan Charles

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