Warning: Some of these costumes are quite scary. Proceed with caution.
A lot of horror movies live and die by their visual designs—and this is no more apparent than in slashers. The slasher genre consists of mostly human (or used to be human) villains that are constrained by being played by humans. They are monsters, but not in the way that makes them often have cool horns. Slasher villains rarely have CGI bodies. It’s up to clever design, costuming, and makeup/prosthetics to burn their visages into our memories. And some creators have done an amazing job of this. So amazing, so iconic that—like me—you don’t even need to have seen their movies to appreciate how threatening these villains are.
So, as a last hurrah for Halloween, here are five incredible-looking slasher villains.
Freddie’s base form outfit (he is a shapeshifter) is partially scary because of how charming it is. His sweater and hat are both classic and kind of adorable. It highlights just how warped his other features are. Freddy’s burn scars are a miracle of makeup work, and his clawed hand gets across the predatory nature of the character. These two facets combine to hint how Freddie’s a playful creature, willing to joke around and draw out his kills for the sake of it being scarier.
The mask is where it’s at with most slasher villains (and not just because it lets different actors play them). A good mask instills terror. Humans are so “face focused” that they can see faces even where there are no faces—so robbing that of a viewer is enough by itself. But Jason has even more going on with him. His hulking figure coupled with how brutal he can be with whatever weapon he has turns that expressionless visage into a rolling wave of disturbing violence.
This design is honestly inspired, but so gruesome I understand why we don’t see it more often. The longer you think about what his mask is made of, the worse it gets. Leatherface is the epitome of the evil butcher look, and somehow the fact he has a normal-looking tie makes it even more concerning. I’m a big fan of horror costumes that blend the normal and innocent with the aggressively distressing.
This design is so distinct because of how sleek and stealthy it is. Ghostface looks like the grim reaper. His black cloak and tassels are like him coming out of a shadow. Looking over photos of him, it’s nearly impossible not to have your eyes drawn to the elongated and warped mask. Of all the ones on this list, Ghostface might be my favorite.
All the interesting stuff about William Shatner’s face and the mask design aside, Michael Myers is a classic villain for a reason. He combines a lot of what I’ve mentioned already. The mask hides the real human face like Jason, looks like dead skin like Leatherface, and contrasts with his dark outfit like Ghostface. Its big soulless eyes get worse the longer you think about them, and the character is always a huge, beefy guy that could easily win most fights. Seeing him triggers a fight-or-flight instinct, and that’s the ideal reaction for a slasher villain. Michael is the pinnacle of, and a huge inspiration for, the entire slasher genre. He didn’t start it, but he cemented it.
And those are some of the best-looking slasher villains. The classic nightmare men who give all horror fans a little shock of both delight and fear when we see them.