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Ranking The Purge's Creepiest Masks

The "Purge" films are some of the most unique horror movies being made today. They revolve around a simple premise: What would happen if crime was made legal for 12 hours each year? Each film takes this premise to spectacular extremes, which have increased in intensity as the series has gone on. By this point, we've gone from simple, self-contained stories of home invasion to movies featuring bodies strapped to cars and guillotines in alleyways.

A big part of this evolution is symbolized by the distinctive masks present in these films. If you've been in a Halloween pop-up store since 2013, you will doubtlessly have seen various "Purge" masks: In 2020, they were among the top sellers of the Halloween season, alongside inflatable dinosaur costumes. Indeed, the series' wide variety of inventively scary masks is a big part of its appeal. But which ones are the most memorably menacing? We're out to answer that question by ranking the creepiest masks in the "Purge" series, one bloodstained smile at a time.

12. Anime lamb girl (Election Year)

2016's "The Purge: Election Year" contains the largest selection of Purge masks in the entire series. While this wide variety offers a whole lot of memorable looks, not all of them are equally spooky.

Purge masks, as shown in-universe, are similar to war paint: They're a visually striking way of intimidating enemies — or, in this case, potential victims unlucky enough to be outside on Purge Night. With that in mind, recall the moment early in the film, when Joe Dixon is looking to protect his humble deli from bloodthirsty Purge girls. The anime lamb mask one of them is wearing, while definitely eye-catching, doesn't exactly strike fear into the heart of man. Not unless your idea of rampant terror is being forced onto the vendor floor of an anime convention, anyway.

While we can certainly admire the creativity behind this outfit and consider the mask to be memorable, it doesn't rank among the truly terrifying Purge masks.

11. The Big Pig (Election Year)

This mask, worn by one of the vicious teen girls in "Election Year," leaves us more confused than scared: Under normal circumstances, it would be considered cartoonishly cute. Constructed from cuddly fabric, this pig mask comes complete with a nose ring and a raver-style pacifier in its mouth. Much like the anime lamb girl, this look doesn't particularly succeed at evoking any feelings of fear or dread. If you were one of those kids who sobbed upon meeting big-headed characters at theme parks, you might be afraid. Otherwise ... not so much.

Admittedly, this is a mild step up from anime lamb girl, as this full-body suit conceals more of the user's identity. Still it's not creepy enough to intimidate Laney Rucker, who swiftly and soundly ends the Big Pig with a shotgun blast. This mask might be creative, but it's not enough to bring home the bacon on Purge Night.

10. The mace guy (Election Year)

With this charming mace enthusiast, we start to get into the more practical and intimidating Purge masks. This gentleman is one of the many marauders who take to the roads on Purge Night. Their goal is, of course, visiting bedlam and destruction upon whatever crosses their path. 

Mace guy's appearance would not be out of place in the post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" films: He sports a store-bought mask customized with reflective material. The ensemble is topped off by the threatening mace he carries. He's definitely one of those people who prepare for Purge Night the way others prepare for Christmas. His look is made all the more horrific by the fact that he's seen on a truck with three victims strapped to the hood. 

This outfit scores points for conjuring the absurd mental image of people buying supplies for their Purge masks in craft stores. However, this is also a detriment. "The Purge" films have never showcased impressively air-tight realism, instead showing off an America gone mad. By prompting the audience to think of the mundane prep work Purge Night would require, this mask threatens to throw watchers entirely out of the movies' over-the-top universe.

9. The motorcyclist (Anarchy)

Before Mace Guy took to the road in "Election Year," there was this deranged motorcyclist from 2014's "The Purge: Anarchy." Early on in the film, Shane and Liz run into a gang of soon-to-be Purgers, including the biker in question. This crew is truly terrifying: Just looking at them drives home the fact that staying home on Purge Night is honestly very good advice. All in all, It's a very well done scene that showcases the stakes of this brutal night.

The motorcyclist's mask is a big part of this fear factor. It's one of the more minimally designed Purge masks on this list, but it's definitely a memorable one. The look is very DIY, but also very threatening, what with its skull-like paint job and prominent mouth hole. You can't see this man's eyes, but you can see his murderous grin. That's a detail anyone who crosses his path is bound to notice.

8. The blackface mask (Election Year)

Each "Purge" film amps up the danger and scale of the situation at hand. "Election Year" is no exception — just look at how many entries it has on this list. With that in mind, it makes sense that the series' third entry would open in grand fashion with something truly gruesome. We join our main character, Charlene "Charlie" Roan, as she and her entire family are menaced by a Purge Night serial killer. She is the only one who escapes with her life. This awful event is the catalyst that propels Charlene and her anti-Purge crusade throughout the film. 

The killer who terrorizes the family wears a store-bought mask featuring nauseating blackface symbolism. Given the political nature of the series, it's not a stretch to assume this killer knows the ugly history of the mask he's wearing, and, in all likelihood, relishes it. He's a monster through and through, looking to cause pain however he can.

7. The melting clown salesman (Election Year)

As long as there's a buck to be made from human misery, there will always be someone willing to grab it, no matter how low they have to stoop. "The Purge" films have always touched on various social, economic, and political issues — albeit violently, of course. In the opening scene of "Election Year," we're offered a vivid example of this tendency when Laney Rucker is accosted on the street by an aggressive shopkeeper. This sketchy salesman is way too enthusiastic about selling masks and outfits to would-be Purgers ahead of the bloody night's commencement. "The Purge is Halloween for adults," he entreats. This does admittedly sum up the vibe that makes these movies what they are, but boy, does saying it make him seem really, really icky.

His attire doesn't help: The salesman sports a droopy clown mask, smeared with bright colors that mimic melting theatrical makeup. It's creepy enough unto itself — that fact that it's for marketing purposes makes it even worse. In showing how businesses handle the Purge, this man and his mask are chilling indeed.

6. The horned devil (First Purge)

The masks get even more elaborate in the series' fourth outing, 2018's "The First Purge." With the Purge seemingly abolished at the conclusion of "Election Year," the series chooses an interesting new direction: It goes all the way back to the inaugural Purge. This Purge is beta-tested in Staten Island, and offers a $5,000 reward for participation. But honestly, considering the bloody actions of the people involved, we think the opportunity for slaughter is all the motivation they need.

Since this is the very first Purge, there aren't many memorable masks in this film. The most striking is definitely an elaborate devil mask, distinguished by its enormous horns. This makes the Purger wearing it one of the more inhuman figures present in the film, and thus one of the most intimidating. With its orange eyes, huge horns, long nose, and twisted grin, this mask is the last thing you'd want to contend with while surviving a Purge.

5. Uncle Sam (Election Year)

The evolution of the "Purge" franchise can be understood through its marketing. Over the course of multiple movies, the series goes from telling a standalone story about home invasion to pulling off visually eclectic and hyper-violent social satire. "Election Year" exemplifies this jump through its visuals, especially the masks present in the film's promotional materials.

Aside from the teen girls who menace Joe's Deli, the most visually noteworthy Purgers in this film are a gang of blood-crazed foreigners. As the film reveals, some tourists come to the U.S. to participate in Purge Night. Partway through the film, we see a swarm of Purgers dressed like famous presidents and patriotic symbols. Among these Purgers is a Purge tourist dressed as Uncle Sam. His red-white-and-blue suit is topped off by a grotesque mask bearing a twisted grin.

This mask is part of a sequence that is both visually and thematically insane, showcasing patriotism at its most deranged. The sight of Uncle Sam, Lincoln, and other such figures partaking in the bloody mayhem of the night is unforgettable. No wonder these characters are on all the movie's posters.

4. Kiss Me (Election Year)

Kimmy is definitely one of the most memorable minor characters in "Election Year." A demented high schooler who starts off as a foul-mouthed thief, she and her friend calmly leave after being threatened by Laney. When the Purge commences, however, they return with a vengeance. The gang even rolls up in a Christmas light-adorned car with Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" blasting through the speakers.

Kimmy's mask is large and white, with a jagged smile and melting eyes. The words "KISS ME" are emblazoned across the forehead of the mask in smeared red letters. She pairs this mask with a poofy white dress generously splattered with blood. This makes for quite the disturbing sight: Mixing bridal imagery, which is all about happiness and love, with that of a horror movie is evocative indeed. Add to that her golden guns, and you've got a truly insane addition to the world of the Purge.

3. Smiling masks (The Purge)

The first movie in the series, 2013's "The Purge," lands very differently today, in light of its sequels. But one cannot deny the film features some unnerving antagonists — especially its group of disturbed youths. Led by a creepily soft-spoken lad named Henry, the members of this gang all wear the same mask: A smiling human face with perfect white teeth. Though this mask lacks overtly scary details, it's ever so slightly off — the cheeks are too round, the chin is too sharp, and the eyebrows are bizarrely thin. This uneasy distortion makes the masks chilling in a way that lingers, long after the movie ends.

This posse of psychos complete their outfits with suits and dresses. All of this is part of an attempt to intimidate the Sandin family into giving up a homeless man. These masks, along with many others, have become a yearly staple in most costume shops. There's a very good reason for that: In their simplicity, these masks are all the more terrifying.

2. Lady Liberty (Election Year)

"Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." These words, from Emma Lazarus' "The New Colossus," are inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. You'll notice that this famous sonnet does not call for blood and internal organs alongside downtrodden immigrants. That doesn't matter in the world of the Purge, however. Perhaps they've had a new plaque installed?

During the Purge tourists' attack in "Election Year," we see a woman dressed in a Lady Liberty outfit. She wears a green dress (thoroughly sprinkled with blood stains, of course) and a light-up mask topped by the points of the statue's iconic crown. Alongside the likes of Uncle Sam and Abe Lincoln, this horrific take on Lady Liberty makes for an unforgettable image. This character is prominent in the film's trailers and marketing material, making her an indelible symbol of the franchise as a whole. That's exactly as it should be: She's a wonderful visual representation of the blood-soaked, neon-lit madness the "Purge" films have transformed into.

1. The face of God (Anarchy)

There's a very good reason this mask features prominently in the marketing for "The Purge: Anarchy". Simply put, it's a perfect visual representation of what the Purge means to many people: Total power for one chaotic night.

Some people in these movies see the Purge as a sick nightmare, while others see it as their perverted democratic duty. Those who participate go all-out, wearing disturbing (though admittedly inventive) homemade outfits while they commit their legally sanctioned crimes. One Purge participant captures their spirit with unforgettable simplicity: He wears a white mask smeared with makeup, with the word "GOD" written on the forehead. 

This mask has made countless appearances in costume shops and pop culture conventions since its debut. Its stark declaration makes it one of the most truly scary masks in the entire series. "Anarchy" knows this: It lingers on this mask for a few moments, to let it fully sink in. Simply put, the only gods listening on Purge Night are the sick and depraved souls using it to spread misery.