If the horror genre’s obsession with slasher villains has taught us anything, it’s that masks are super creepy. There’s something about not knowing who’s under there that just sends shivers down our collective spine. That makes Halloween a setting rife with possibilities to take full advantage of this, since this is the night that every suburban town becomes awash with masked children wandering the streets in search of candy, like zombies in search of brains. With evil children already being their own sub-genre, trick or treaters are this creepy blend of influences that we really should see more often. Here are a few that I happen to find particularly spooky.
Lock, Shock, and Barrel
Coming to us from Tim Burton and director Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, this trio of creepy trick or treaters work for the villain of the movie and get the best song. They’re not really main characters, but as a kid they always stole the show for me. There’s just something so wonderful about how much joy they take in their sadistic behavior.
Named after Samhain and designed to be some sort of “Halloween spirit” and mascot for Trick r Treat, Sam shows up repeatedly throughout the film before actually getting his moment to shine. There’s a childlike innocence to him and up until the end he feels more mischievous than actually threatening. Of course that all changes when he makes a heel turn and goes after Brian Cox’s John Carpenter lookalike, Mr. Kreeg. Oh well, at least we’re safe if we respect the holiday and don’t break any of Sam’s rules, right?
The most recent addition to this list, the Hellions in Hellions are absolutely terrifying. They look a bit like those scary vintage photos of trick or treaters that you’ve probably seen floating around the Internet, popping back up once a year near the holiday. On top of that, you’re never quite sure exactly what these things are. They look like little masked children, but there’s an inhuman quality to them as they descend upon the house and wreak havoc. Add in a lot of surreal weirdness and these creatures are the things of nightmares, almost in a literal sense.
Carly Beth and The Haunted Mask
Ok so this one’s not a movie. Sue me. From the very first two episodes of the Goosebumps television series, Carly Beth’s haunted mask always creeped me out when I was a kid. For those unaware, this is a story about a mask that just doesn’t want to come off, leaving Carly stuck inside and slowly turning into this weird goblin thing. It’s a scary thought for a small child around Halloween time, and definitely made me second guess choosing a costume with a mask.
Another entry from Trick r Treat, but these kids are just too creepy to leave off. These are the ghosts of special needs kids that had fallen victim to a bit of cruelty and a terrible bus crash. This is classic zombie stuff right here. The way they crawl out of the water is pure horror and there’s something unbelievably unsettling about their masks even before they return from the dead.
Satan’s Little Helper
Stranger danger! Stranger danger! Satan’s Little Helper is the story of a small child naively following around a serial killer whom he believes to be Satan (or at least a version of Satan from his favorite video game). This movie’s pretty tongue-in-cheek, but the idea of this silent masked maniac luring away a small child and not killing him but instead turning him into his little helper elf is unbelievably creepy. Add in one of the best smiling demon masks and this is a Halloween fright that’ll be burned into your brain forever.