"He's making himself a "woman suit," Mr. Crawford - out of real women! And he can sew, this guy, he's really skilled. A dressmaker, or a tailor... That's why they're all so big - because he needs a
lot of skin. He keeps them alive to starve them awhile, to loosen their skin..."
Some people are a bit bent in the head
. These people are often living incarnation of Nightmare Fuel
in any case, but the best... well... if best is the word to use here... perhaps "most effective" methods of making them even Squickier
than they already are is to have them skin their victims and then use the collected skin for some disgusting purpose.
The possibilities are horrific to contemplate, but include masks, clothing, lampshades, and so on.
See also Flaying Alive
. Related to Skeletons In The Coat Closet
, Human Resources
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Anime and Manga
- The Akuma from D. Gray-Man. They kill the human who summoned them and wear their skins.
- Anatolia Story: Zuwa from the Kaska/Kashga clan kills humans and sews his clothes out of the collected skin. Features include black for nubian and brown for egyptian.
- Youaltepuztli Nahualpilli from the anecdotes of Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, who did it for warmth.
- Some of the "Health Department" goons from Biomega wear aprons and masks made from the humans and zombies they've killed as trophies.
- There's an obscure Batman villain called Jane Doe who murders, skins her victims, and then wears their skin while assuming their identity.
- At one point in Grant Morrison's Batman, a member of the Black Glove wears the skinned face of his victim, philanthropist John Mayhew, as a mask. It's actually Mayhew himself, wearing the face of a man who resembled him.
- And just when you thought The Joker couldn't get any more disturbing than he already is, as of 2012 he's joined this club... except it's his own flayed face that he's strapped in place. Eugh...
- Carrick in No Hero was shown on a variant cover in a chair made with human skin with faces.
- Neil Gaiman's The Sandman featured a one-issue story called "Collectors" that was about a Serial Killer convention. One of the killers who attends (he's been dubbed "Flay by Night" by the press) is a nationally famous doctor who has treated presidents and congressmen. The fact that he likes to wear "handmade leather ties" was once commented upon during one of his many talk-show appearances. He makes the ties himself, out of the skin of his victims. And he's got over a hundred of them.
- Dr. Doom, in what is arguably his most heinous act, murdered his former lover Valeria and made a suit of leather armor out of her skin as part of a magic spell to boost his sorcery.
- EC Comics' Shock SuspenStories had this as the ending of "The Rug!" and "What Fur?!", both Anvilicious anti-fur stories.
- Cupcakes: Pinkie Pie wears the cutie marks of all the ponies she tortured and killed.
- The Galaxy Rangers Dark Fic "Raumjager" uses the real-life example of Ilse Koch. Doc is trapped in the "Nazis won" timeline, and sees an "antique lampshade" with a tatooed American flag and the words "Semper Fidelis" on it.
- In The Dresden Fillies , Harry Dresden travels to Equestria. Being herbivores, ponies don't use leather at all, so when Rarity and Applejack inquire about his trademark coat, he finds himself in quite a bind.
- The Silence of the Lambs has Buffalo Bill (so named because he likes to "skin his humps") trying to make a "woman suit" out of the skin of his victims in a strange attempt at transformation. Hannibal Lecter also wore a policeman's faceskin in one scene.
- Repo! The Genetic Opera has Pavi, who cuts off women's faces, keeps them fresh, and wears them over his own, attached with straps and staples.
- Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
- In Men In Black, the alien villain spends most of the movie wearing the skin of Edgar, a farmer he killed and skinned.
- The Necronomicon as seen in the Evil Dead movies is bound in human skin, with the face forming the front cover.
- The Eelfinn in the Wheel of Time series wear a lot of decorative leather. It is strongly implied that they obtain this from people who forget to negotiate the price for their services.
- As part of the Voigt-Kampff psychological battery in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Deckard directs a subject's attention to his briefcase, then declares it to be "100% genuine babyhide" to gauge her reaction.
- The Canim sorcerers from the Codex Alera series wear clothes made from enemies. That means human skin for a part of seen cast. They also use it to write letters on, including supposedly-friendly diplomatic messages to humans. One high rank priest slept on a pile of human scalps.
- In Cornelia Funke's Reckless, Jacob fights the Tailor, a blade-fingered monster who wears the skin of his victims.
- House Bolton in A Song of Ice and Fire is associated with this. Their sigil is a flayed man and older lords of the Dreadfort would wear cloaks of human skin.
- Ramsay Snow (aka the Bastard of Bolton) seems to have taken up the tradition, sending Asha Greyjoy a patch of her brother's skin and claiming to have made Mance Rayder a cloak from the skin of his six spearwife companions.
- When Ramsay tells his dad he wants to make boots out of human leather, his father is horrified, but not for the obvious reason. He knows from experience that human leather is too thin and weak for such purposes!
- It's also revealed that the Faceless Men use the faces of the people who die in their temple (plus some Applied Phlebotinum) to disguise themselves.
- In Gregory Maguire's Son Of A Witch, sequel to Wicked, dragons have a penchant for peeling the skin off their victims' faces and bringing them back as trophies. As if this weren't bad enough, the Emperor has the faces stretched over frames, and plans to put them on display to intimidate a rebellious faction.
- In Our Man in Havana the local police chief, Captain Segura, is rumored to carry a cigarette case made of human skin. It's true, though to make it slightly justifiable, the skin came from the guy who murdered his father.
- At one point in the Mallorean, Belgarath finds that the scroll holding a prophecy he seeks was made of human skin. This frustrates him, however, because human skin is terrible at holding ink, and the prophecy is now unreadable.
- A minor villain in a Brad Thor novel wears boots made of American soldiers he killed. The badass operative going after him is not amused.
- There's at least one comment in the Planet of the Apes novel Conspiracy Of The Planet Of The Apes about 'man pelts'.
- As there are no other animals present on the Riverworld, people wind up using human skin as leather.
- One of the more disturbing hadal artifacts retrieved from underground in Jeff Long's The Descent is a leather ball made from human skin. Several different races of human were used to craft it, so the ball would have an interesting pattern.
- Since the underplanet is so bereft of biological resources, the hadals are pretty much required to make do with each other for raw materials. Human skin, sinew and bone are vital parts of their economy — not to even mention meat. The surface people who try to colonize the underplanet either learn to adopt the hadals' methods of survival or don't (survive, that is).
- The Nightmare People hollow out their victims.
- Gorthor the Beastlord in Warhammer wears a cloak made of shaman hides. This is both a declaration of strength and a symbol of the favor of the gods - to kill a shaman is supposedly horrid luck, but given that Gorthor has killed countless shamans and still lives...
- Among the (currently obsolete) mercenary units, Mengil Manhide's Manflayers deserve mentioning.
- Warhammer 40000 has Chaos and Dark Eldar, two of the more morally monstrous factions use human skin in decorations, like clothing, banners, etc. Chaos Space Marines gives us Chaos worshipper and all-around cackling madman Fabius Bile, whose labcoat is, quite infamously, made of human skin over his power armor. Dark Eldar Haemonculi, also wear labcoats of skin, though not nearly as memetically as Bile
- Similarly the Flayed Ones of the Necrons get their names because they strip the flesh from their enemies and drape themselves in the strips.
- Vampire The Masquerade gives us the Tzimisce, the vampire masters of Body Horror, who use their victims for clothes, augmentation, furniture... and many of them have enough skill to have the victim survive the experience...
- There was a mad tanner in the video game Baldur's Gate 2 who could craft an evil-only leather armor from human skin and the blood of a silver dragon (the only non-evil species of dragon encountered in the game).
- Much earlier you encounter gauntlets of ogre strength, which seem to be made from actual ogre hands.
- Done in Fallen London with the duelist gloves...maybe. The description is your character doubting that it's REALLY human skin.
- Sakahagi in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne wears an outfit made from the skins of Manikins he's killed.
- In Skyrim, the Oghma Infinium◊ appears to be bound with the skin of every race of Mer you collected blood from to get it.
- Confessions of a Khajiit Fur Trader is exactly what it says on the cover: The tale of a Khajiit who made an absolute fortune selling the pelts of his fellow cat-folk, as well as Argonian leather. It all began with his brother's hide and went downhill from there.
- The Tome of Eternal Darkness, from the game of the same name, is bound in human skin.
- A rare semi-positive portrayal in Digger - the Skin Lizards. They wear the skins of sapient beings, believing themselves to be the cast-off skins of men who have died. They mean well by it, offering to skin the main character and her companion to spare them of having to see a dead god. In their own bizarre way, they're trying to be helpful. This ritual is eventually Ed's send-off.
- The Skin-Taker from the Candle Cove Creepy Pasta is the villain of the fictional show who wears a top hat and cloak made from children's skin.
- Metalocalypse had an episode where Dethklok creates their own line of S&M styled clothes (made of leather, of course). The fashion designer hints at this trope throughout the episode with several ominous references to his "special leather", but the end of the episode has the band discovering the truth, and after all the not-so-subtle hints, the reveal is so over-the-top that it arguably Crosses the Line Twice. When the band actually find this out, rather than declaring it metal, they're so horrified that they scream continuously with Nathan pausing momentarily to fire the designer in question.
- South Park provides one example that doesn't involve murder, but is just as unsettling. Because Randy wanted a prescription for medicinal marijuana, he contracted such an extreme case of testicular cancer that he got around by using his balls as a hippity-hop. He eventually got them removed and had a coat made from his scrotum.
- Mentioned by Shrek when he says that one of the things an ogre's likely to do is "make a suit from your freshly-peeled skin."
- A criminal in Super Jail has a habit of pretty much making anything from human hide and body parts.
- Totally Spies! actually pulls this off where one of the criminals turns humans into animals before skinning them and making fur coats "without a single stitch".
"It's genuine lawyer."
- The Roman emperor Valerian I was captured at the Battle of Edessa by the Persian King Shapur I. At first, Shapur merely used Valerian as a human footstool. However, when Shapur grew tired of this game, he had Valerian flayed alive, then stuffed his skin with dung and straw and had it put on display in one of the larger temples in his capital.
- Ed Gein, a murderer and grave-robber who was eventually used as the basis for Norman Bates, Leatherface, and Buffalo Bill, was actually more notorious for the fact that he skinned and dismembered corpses he dug up from his local cemetary and the fact that he made leather items out of those skins than he is for the twonote actual murders he committed.
- Ilse Koch, the wife of a Nazi concentration camp commander, had gloves and lampshades made out of inmates' skin.
- Priests of the fertility deity Xipe Totec would completely flay sacrificial victims and dress in their skins. On the plus side, before they were killed, the victims got several days of feasting and sex before the sacrifice.
- It is said that William Wallace used the skin of the Sheriff of Lanark to cover his baldric.
- One of the plastinated figures in the "Body Worlds" museum exhibit is of a peeled human body holding its own skin.
- There are examples that still exist of medieval books bound in human skin.
- Not just Medieval; it's not even prohibitively expensive to buy a 19th century volume bound in human skin.
- There is at least one website where one might purchase small items crafted of human hide, thanks to similarly-minded people offering to donate their skin to the cause.
- According to Herodotus, the Scythians used human skins as saddle-cloths and decorated their horses' bridles with human scalps.