Masks in Horror Cinema

Eyes Without Faces

Author(s) Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Language: English

Genre(s): Media, Film and Theatre

Series: Horror Studies

  • October 2019 · 288 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Paperback - 9781786834966
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786834973
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786834980

About The Book

Why has the mask been such an enduring generic motif in horror cinema? This book explores its transformative potential historically across myriad cultures, particularly in relation to its ritual and mythmaking capacities, and its intersection with power, ideology and identity. All of these factors have a direct impact on mask-centric horror cinema: meanings, values and rituals associated with masks evolve and are updated in horror cinema to reflect new contexts, rendering the mask a persistent, meaningful and dynamic aspect of the genre’s iconography. This study debates horror cinema’s durability as a site for the potency of the mask’s broader symbolic power to be constantly re-explored, re-imagined and re-invented as an object of cross-cultural and ritual significance that existed long before the moving image culture of cinema.


'Heller-Nicholas has made an important contribution to an overlooked area of horror. This is a book that should definitely be consulted by scholars studying any of the films it discusses, as well as the slasher genre more broadly' - Read the full review here


Introduction - Why Masks? Ritual, Power and Transformation
Chapter One: Situating Masks and Horror Cinema
Part One: Masks, Horror and Cinema: Towards Codification
Chapter Two: Masks and Horror in Literary and Performance Traditions and Early Cinema
Chapter Three: Masks in Horror Film Before 1970
Part Two: Horror Film Masks from 1970
Chapter Four: Skin Masks: Ritual, Power and Transformation
Chapter Five: Blank Masks: Ritual, Power and Transformation
Chapter Six: Animal Masks: Ritual, Power and Transformation
Chapter Seven: Repurposed Masks: Ritual, Power and Transformation
Part Three: Masks as Transformational Technologies – Moving Forward By Looking Back
Chapter Eight: Technological Masks: Ritual, Power and Transformation

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas is an Australian film critic, speaker and consultant who specialises in horror, cult and exploitation cinema. She is a researcher at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne.

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