Just to show it's not a real face...
In fiction, full-head pullover latex masks can be made so perfectly that it is impossible to tell the wearer from the person he is impersonating until the moment he pulls off his face by grabbing an invisible seam at the back of his jaw.
Sometimes the mask is pulled off by grabbing the top of the head.
Even close acquaintances and family members will be fooled. Masks of this quality can completely alter the shape of the wearer's face and head, even to the point of making them thinner or smaller as needed, regardless of common sense or physical law. Best of all for those who need them, masks of such exquisite detail can be made without resorting to casting the face of the target — a couple of small black-and-white photos will do just fine as a reference.
Typically, a mask like this can even easily mimic the wearers' expression
, making it easier to fool others.
This is the number one tool of the Master of Disguise
. It's not seen nearly as often in modern TV, but it still lurks about and surfaces every now and then. The Darkman
movies, for example, and the opening of the first Charlie's Angels
Another variation of this involves the use of a full rubber bodysuit
that is unzipped down the front or the back for the reveal, usually used more in animation.
This trope can be nightmare fuel for some people, especially if it's accompanied by a graphic "peel-the-face-off" shot (and it often is). Woe to the Masklophobic
who runs into a film using this trope (especially if they don't know it's coming) and gets treated to seeing an actor remove their face.
The exact polar opposite of Latex Perfection is the Paper-Thin Disguise
. A usual technique is to use a different actor under the "mask"
(Compare Magic Plastic Surgery
for another method of "explaining" how one actor can suddenly perfectly resemble another). Remember, We Will Not Use Stage Makeup In The Future
, and the latex mask will be subsumed by Applied Phlebotinum
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- A really memorable but creepy Smokey bear PSA commercial from 1973 had this. It starts off with actress Joanna Cassidy talking to us about forest fires and then towards the end she takes her face off like a rubber mask to reveal a creepy Smokey Bear costumed character underneath. It was remade in 1980 with the unmasking being less scary and Smokey being more cuddly and friendly-looking and have a voice that sounds remarkably similar to John Goodman. The Joanna Cassidy original can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXcrbpMNvTs
- One of those Mac vs. PC ads involved this too, with the PC guy impersonating the Mac guy, as if those ads weren't cliched enough!
- Back in the 1990s, Waffle Crisp cereal uses this in two related commercials. In one, a team of boys send a spy, disguised as "a real granny" with a mask, into the factory where the cereal is made and steals a supply. In the sequel, two of the boys fall victim to a pair of "young girls" who remove their masks (and costumes... revealing two "Real Grannies (TM)" underneath) to steal back their cereal and escape. Find the second one here.
- A young couple go on a light-hearted date, and the young man drives off with a photograph and a wave. Once he's out of sight, the young woman unmasks. Apparently, he'll do anything for his friend.
- "But I don't use it. Because I'm a woman".
- The late 1990s Subaru Forester commercial, where in some kind of spy parody, a pretty red-haired woman (complete with suggestive feminine American voice) escapes the bad guys' hideout in a Subuar Forester vehicle, managing to get out before the exit door closes. Then once safely outside, the announcer says that the experience can be "full of surprises," as the woman peels off her rubber mask and her wig to reveal Paul Hogan, whom says in his normal deep Australian accent, "Like mine for example!"
- Also seen in the Walmart "Rollback Man" commercial from 2003-2004, which parodies all the old action/spy tropes as a parody of "Secret Agent Man" plays in the background, when a female Wal-Mart employee disguises herself with a rubber Smiley Face mask (a CGI effect.)
- In this Vodafone Omintel commercial from 2000, the main character must smuggle the titular product across some kind of checkpoint. She drives into a convenient car wash, changes clothes, and removes her mask to reveal a completely different look underneath. However, the curly-haired-blonde look was apparently the result of a makeover... which she then covered up with a mask of her original, "natural" appearance.
- Barney Rubble has done this from time to time in some Pebbles cereal commercials, even though he usually manages to blow his cover anyways.
- A funny/creepy chewing gum commercial which spoofs the soap opera formula, when an old man reveals to his son that he's really his mother in disguise. Then, the son peels off his mask to reveal that he's just a puppeteer dummy.
- Got Milk?
- One Eggo Waffles commercial from 1996 involved a Mission: Impossible parody where a teenage boy is preparing his waffles, his younger brother notices, sneaks into the basement, lays out the plan, then dons a rubber mask of his father, along with a black business suit. He jumps down from a vent and says to his brother "Leggo my eggo... son" (still in his true voice though), and then the real father enters, saying "Good morning," and the ad ends with him glancing suspiciously at what looks like a copy of him at the table with a shorter body and a wider shirt collar.
- Combined with Dream Within a Dream in this 1990 Froot Loops commercial.
- You see a gorgeous woman on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with a broken down car, what is she driving? Is it a Toyota Corolla or Maneja Confiado? Keep driving, it's a trap.
- This recent ad for Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt involves Bob Saget disguising as Full House co-star John Stamos using a rubber mask, as part of a prank with the real Stamos as the target.
- This McDonald's ad cross-promoting Looney Tunes and the NBA uses the full bodysuit variation, where Elmer Fudd refs what looks like a game between Taz and NBA player Charles, but they both unzip their costumes to reveal Sylvester and another NBA player, respectively, and then unmasking from other suits such as the Road Runner, other NBA players, Wile E. Coyote, etc. until we're left with two Michael Jordans.
Anime and Manga
- A regular feature of the Italian comic Diabolik. In a nice piece of realism, Diabolik's disguises have the limit that he and Eva can only disguise themselves as people with a similar body build. He also used the trick to fake fingerprints.
- As Diabolik is a well-known criminal and the existence of the masks is a known fact, a regular plot point is the police or possible victims setting up face checks (consisting in pinching the face to try and take off the eventual mask) any time they suspect Diabolik is around.
- In Magico Vento (Italian western comic)the secondary character Dick Carr can mimic any face with makeup... around 1880. Partly justified as he is a professional actor, used makeup for years and has a makeup kit on par with his skills. Made hard to believe when you factor in that his face has been horribly burned with vetriol by his jelous wife, and he has no more skin and damaged muscles. How he can make any expression is a mystery, much more voice imitation.
- Again, at least a couple of time he is busted by people that recognized the act.
- The comic book series (and, briefly, TV series) Human Target starred Christopher Chance, a man who is paid to mimic people who have been targeted for assassination. The twist in later versions was that he was so good at mimicking them, he would sometimes forget who he really was.
- In Sillage, Nävis often wears a semi-liquid symbiote over her skin. Since she is the only human in a giant space fleet composed of thousands of species, normal disguise wouldn't be very effective. As a bonus, the symbiote adjusts her metabolism and immune system for No Biochemical Barriers and serves as Translator Microbes.
- In the comics, Batman would occasionally disguise himself (often impersonating Superman to get the bad guys to use their Kryptonite on the wrong target) and then pull off the false face, revealing his cowl, ears and all, underneath. This seems to have finally become a Discredited Trope because it just stretches Willing Suspension of Disbelief too far.
- This was common in Batman: The Animated Series, as well.
- Probably reached its apex when Batman disguised himself, full-body, as Killer Croc. While playing poker for what was apparently several hours. And not only did no one notice any oddness in the way his (much taller, more muscular, and all-around bigger) body moved, when the light started swaying and he went into shadow, you could see his Batman costume underneath it. (This last was pretty much purely for dramatic effect, but still.) Making it even more implausible, the show's design of Killer Croc had a very wide, cheekless mouth open on the sides, making it impossible to hide a normal human face underneath it.
- There was also the time that Dick Grayson dressed up as Bruce Wayne to discredit a man that had discovered Batman's true identity. Aside from looking and sounding exactly the same as Bruce, Dick's only complaint was that he had to use leg extensions to appear taller, lifting up his pant legs to reveal that he's on stilts. Did no one notice the disturbing bulges right in the middle of Bruce Wayne's shins?
- Wouldn't it have been considerably easier for Dick to dress like Batman?
- Not necessarily. If he essentially walked as though he were "wearing high heels", then there would not be a bulge (and careful acting and misdirection can help with the knees being weird). One can assume that he relaxed his feet when it was all over. As for it being easier to dress up as Bruce than Bats: Bats had to fight, if memory serves. And either way, Bruce Wayne has to move a LOT less than Batman.
- This was also done shockingly well in Batman and Robin with the character of Oberon Sexton, who we are led to believe is an English best-selling crime author/detective, who assists the Dynamic Duo. Damien suspects Oberon is faking his accent and believes he is Bruce, but he denies this, and Dick confirms this. It turns out he is The Joker. Yeah, let that sink in for a while.
- Quite a few examples from Spider-Man comics:
- Several Canon Discontinuities ago, it was explained that Aunt May was really alive because the one who died was an impostor in disguise. How any mask or makeup could possibly have fooled a close relative like Peter Parker (let alone a close relative with Spider-Sense) was left unexplained.
- In an early storyline, the late Frederick Foswell took on the alternate identity of a low-life stool pigeon known as "Patch." He wore a latex mask to look like a generic middle-aged man with brown hair and an eyepatch, and also wore a fedora. He even once nearly figured out Spider-Man's true identity this way, but Peter Parker managed to fool him anyways, not even knowing Patch and Foswell were one and the same.
- The Chameleon, a Master of Disguise by trade, often took advantage of this trope. In his first appearance, he used his trademark "mask pouch" to create seamless disguises of anyone he encountered, virtually on the spot. Later on he abandoned the masks in favor of holograms or actual shapeshifting. More recently, he returned to Latex Perfection, with the justification that he does take molds of the person he's impersonating's face. (And then kills them.)
- Harvey Dent uses one of these in The Long Halloween.
- In The Authority: Kev, an alien infiltrator somehow manages a Latex Perfection disguise, despite being something of a Starfish Alien, having 5 eyes, and about seven short, stubby fingers on each hand.
- Regularly used by DC Comics' Unknown Soldier.
- One of the trademarks of Master of Disguise Nemesis in The DCU. He uses special masks of his own invention that dissolve with the application of a special spray, allowing him to resume his normal appearance in seconds.note
- Also in The DCU, Black Orchid frequently uses Latex Perfection; even managing to disguise herself as a man.
- In the Chick Tract Somebody Goofed, the Devil uses one of these to pose as a human and lead a young man to atheism. Even more amazing when you realize it somehow covered his horns too. Of course, he's the dark lord.
- In earlier issues of Daredevil, he disguised himself like The Mighty Thor to attract Mr. Hyde and Cobra, usual foes of the Nordic God. Thor himself said that it was like looking in a mirror. DD even used some skin-coloured latex to cover his costume and resemble the naked arms of Thor. Yeah.
- A few issues later, DD participates on a movie with the Stunt-Master. The Stilt-Man knocks down SM and disguises his face to look like him. In about five minutes.
- Supergirl did this quite a bit for some time, before she briefly gained the ability to shapeshift. In a non-canonical "Death of Superman" story, she finally reveals herself to the public by crashing a party the bad guys are throwing in a full Superman suit and mask, then removing it to reveal herself.
- In Captain America's origin story, the Super Soldier project is hidden beneath an antique shop. The "old woman" who tends to the shop is, in fact, a young woman agent named Betsy Ross in disguise. In the 2011 movie, however, she appears to be an actual old woman, albeit one who's handy with a machine gun.
- Spoofed in an issue of Rat-Man with a similar premise, where the old shopkeeper the young woman agent is disguised as is actually an old woman identical to her former appearance under the young woman mask. Also, her pet cat is actually a guard dog in disguise.
- Modesty Blaise: In "Butch Cassidy Rides Again", the gang uses latex masks to make themselves appear identical to the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang.
- One Darkwing Duck story in Disney Adventures had Darkwing wearing a mask that looked exactly like his real face over his traditional eye mask and under a series of other masks. Appropriately lampshaded by Launchpad and Gosalyn.
- Partly adverted in a Spirou and Fantasio story where a latex mask is used to frame Fantasio. While the mask is good enough to fool people watching him on TV or from afar, it always keeps the same, smiling expression, and the guy under the mask has a similar frame. He also never meets a close relative of Fantasio's while masked.
- In Captain America #606 (No Escape, part one), Baron Zemo wears a latex mask of a person to break into a mental asylum to interrogate Sin. Like some other examples on this page, he wore it over his actual mask.
- The Tex Willer villain Proteus was capable of nearly flawless disguises, which he used to frame our heroes (Kit Carson for example) for robbing and murder.
- Fantômas did it back in 1964, being probably one of the oldest examples.
- The James Bond film From Russia with Love contains one of the earliest examples.
- A nice variation ten years later in Live and Let Die, the masked man, in a fit of frustration, grabs his nose and pulls it, stretching and removing the latex in pieces. A satisfyingly disturbing reveal.
- Spoofed at the start of Austin Powers. Austin reveals that a woman is actually a man in disguise. The scene is done with special effects worthy of the 60s, where the actress playing the spy is obviously a (good looking) woman until the camera angle changes as Austin pulls off "his" hair, the actress having been replaced by a bulky man in Drag.
- Subverted later when Powers tries to recreate his triumph by assaulting a woman and trying to pull off her wig, only to be told she's actually an innocent woman. In fact, his boss's mother.
- Mrs. Doubtfire seriously abused this trope, as Robin Williams' character would duck into a rest room to put on his "old woman" disguise in a matter of seconds, in spite of the fact that the "making of" documentary on the DVD explained that it took several hours to apply the mask to the actor's face.
- What's more, it seems to be realistically painstaking and time-consuming the first few times he puts on his disguise, but that gets set aside in favor of the Rule of Funny for later scenes, where he not only changes in and out of the disguise in seconds, but he manages to fit everything he needs in a lady's handbag.
- White Chicks (the Wayans Brothers' semi-ripoff of Some Like It Hot) featured secret agent brothers Kevin and Marcus Copeland (played by Shawn and Marlon Wayans) disguising as Caucasian blond-haired co-eds (though they seem to resemble pale-faced lower-voiced imitations of the girls rather than perfect replicas), and like the case with Mrs. Doubtfire, prosthetic appliances are used to make the brothers look like white females, with regular latex masks used as props for unmasking scenes.
- However, it has to be given with them an example in one of the beach scenes, in which Marcus appears in disguise, wearing a bikini! White-skin-colored body, fake boobs and all! (specifically the part in which "she" is sunbathing when Latrell (Terry Crews) unexpectedly casts his shadow over "her" just by standing by).
- The Associate is a semi-combination of the previous two examples. Whoopi Goldberg dresses as an elderly white man to get ahead in business. Her latex mask fools everyone perfectly.
- Similarly to the Slitheen example below, the trope is subverted in the first Men In Black, where the Bug alien somehow compacts itself enough to fit into the skin of the first human it had come across. The disguise itself, however, is actually of terrible quality, with hanging skin, and the Bug having difficulty just getting from one location to another, let alone remain inconspicuous. And the 'Edgar-suit' is visibly decaying throughout the movie.
- The 1988 movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit featured the evil human villain Judge Doom (played by Christopher Lloyd) revealing himself to be an evil maniacal 'toon in disguise wearing a latex mask and a human suit. We don't see Doom unmask or a glimpse of his true identity, and the only traces of his 'toon form are his glowing evil eyes (which were hidden by prosthetic contact lenses resembling human eyeballs) and his yellow hand which can change into an anvil and buzzsaw (hidden by a black glove), and is melted by his own dip, and all that remains is his human mask and clothes. After this scene, a brief sequence can be seen where a sheep peels off his sheep disguise to reveal the Disney Big Bad Wolf.
- Subverted in Minority Report, where several years in the future Tom Cruise's character injects himself with something in a pen-syringe that makes the skin on his face droop dramatically. It doesn't change his face into any other identity, but it does disguise his identity, which is all he needs.
- Handled somewhat realistically in Smokin' Aces, where assassin Laszlo Soot has to spend a considerable amount of time (though not quite as much as he should have) applying his make-up/mask and working on a voice imitation of his target. It was more impressive that the film did not use the "actor switch" but actually did the full make-up of the other actor over Flanagan's features.
- Subverted in Back to the Future II, when Doc Brown starts talking at length about the rejuvenation treatments he had in the future, and mentions that he disguised himself so that his new, younger appearance wouldn't catch Marty off-guard. He then rips off his latex mask to reveal... his exact same face underneath (less rugged, but equal).
- This was probably done so as to avoid having put makeup on Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) all the time. In the first film 1985 Doc only shows up at the beginning and end and is played by Lloyd in aging makeup. The majority of the film features 1955 Doc played by Lloyd as is. However, the sequels follow Marty and 1985 Doc so logically he should look older, except that he doesn't because of the rejuvenation treatments. It's easy to get confused, since the differences between young Doc and old Doc are so subtle.
- They say as much in the DVD commentary, but they give the additional reason that it makes more sense for Clara in Back to the Future III to fall in love with the 40yo Doc than the 70yo Doc.
- In The Witches, the evil Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston) does this to hide her ugly witch face. At the meeting of the witches, she peels off her "normal" human mask to reveal her hideous witch form. Interestingly, Huston's real face represents the witch "in disguise," and the use of prosthetic masks was used for her true witch form and removing her "beautiful face" mask.
- In The Master of Disguise, the mask cliche is used (sometimes even parodied) for several of the disguises in this film. Such examples include Fabrizzio Disguisey (portrayed by James Brolin) masquerading as Bo Derek, Michael Johnson, Jesse Ventura, and Jessica Simpson. For these disguises, the old "actor switch" technique is used, and only the unmaskings of Bo Derek and Jessica Simpson are depicted on screen, while Fabrizzio in his Michael Johnson disguise lifts up the Constitution scroll to cover his body out of frame, and among moving it back down he goes from black to his true Caucasian identity, and Jesse Ventura is only seen tugging on his cheeks as we cut away to a close-up of the villain as we hear the mask stretching offscreen. Similarly, Grandpa Disguisey disguises himself at one part as a smaller female maid, done via the "actor switch" technique and an off-screen masking, and Pistachio Disguises (portrayed by Dana Carvey) wears various disguises, the majority of them played by Carvey himself under different makeup/prosthetics, yet the only disguise we see him unmasking onscreen is when the villain manages to see through Pistachio's disguise of one of his henchmen (where the actor-switch trick was employed yet again).
- In a short film entitled The Real Deal (starring Courtney Gaines), the five main heroes consist of the Elder (an old wrinkled man with glasses and a fishing hat), the Inbred (a yokel with a semi-disfigured face and stringy blond hair), the Sarge (a tough drill sergeant type of guy with a shaven head and almost always squinting), the Player (an black man in a long black coat and sunglasses) and the Gangster (a bald tough-looking man). The film involves them fighting martial arts style to fend off the main villain's henchmen and protect the money they just stole from the villain. At the end of the movie, the five men meet up and then through a montage we see them taking off their various hats and glasses, unbuttoning their coats or shirts, and then peeling off their super-convincing rubber masks to reveal hot young ladies underneath. The woman disguised as the Player was also black, like her male alter-ego. However, the actor-switch technique was employed here: for most of the film up to the unmasking scene, the five heroes were played by professional male martial-arts actors wearing the masks (and a different voice actor dubbing the voice for The Player), and were then replaced with the corresponding actresses for the unmasking scene and then the rest of the film's finale. This film was a promotion of sorts by the special-effects/Halloween mask company SPFX Masks, which designs convincing and realistic silicone full-head masks.
- Seen extensively in the Mission: Impossible series (since the original TV show, listed under Live Action TV, liked it a lot).
- Mission: Impossible II provided some particularly egregious examples of this, with Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt apparently carrying perfect latex masks, not only of various bad guy henchmen but also of himself. These he was able to apply unaided to himself (or in the case of the mask of himself, a bad guy henchman), in about ten seconds flat.
- It also showed how they mimicked the voices as well, with a thin strip of circuitry placed at the base of the neck (which somehow affected sounds made mostly in the mouth).
- Mission: Impossible III made it more realistic and time-consuming than its predecessors, leaving us to wonder what happened to the technology.
- Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol had this technology malfunctioning, thus forcing Ethan and Jane Carter to impersonate Wistrom and Moreau without the help of such masks. Later, Wistrom turns out to be Hendricks wearing a mask.
- Ghost Protocol also showed an IMF team being Genre Savvy, by doing a retinal scan and DNA test to make sure Ethan Hunt really was who he said he was.
- In the N64 game of the film, the Face Maker seems to even duplicate the enemy's clothing (if the original body doesn't disappear).
- Spoofed in the beginning of Charlie's Angels, which was nearly a direct spoof of the beginning of Mission: Impossible II.
- In the film La Femme Nikita, we briefly see a supporting character applying a complex, realistic looking disguise, complete with extensive makeup to alter the shape of his face and a wig. Not quite a mask, but it does completely alter the way he looks.
- Undercover Brother. The title character, while masquerading as an elderly janitor and James Brown.
- The Beatles' Help! has the Eastern bad guys getting captured when they knock Ringo unconscious, then find it's Paul, and then John (but not George?) in a Ringo mask as bait for a police ambush.
- The big reveal at the end of Murder by Death is that Bensonmum, after being accused of murdering Lionel Twain using increasingly outlandish deductions by all the assembled Agatha Christiesque detectives, pulls off a mask that he is really — Lionel Twain. And then, after all the detectives go home, he then pulls off another mask to reveal he's really — the mute maid, who laughs very vocally..
- In the So Bad, It's Good spy movie The Second Best Secret Agent in the World, the James Bond-like hero meets up with a sexy, petite Asian girl... who then tries to kill him. And the latex mask comes off, revealing (in standard fashion for special effects back then) a male Asian martial arts master in drag.
- Partially averted by Darkman, whose synthetic skin (not latex) masks are only really convincing when he backs up the deception by researching his target's voice and mannerisms. The substance the masks themselves are made of is seen as a technological breakthrough in itself, the MacGuffin of the film.
- Done when the security chief in Swamp Thing reveals himself to be Anton Arcane.
- Could be said of Quaid's fat lady disguise in the original Total Recall (1990).
- The 1960s Fantômas movies featured the titular Master of Disguise villain always wearing a bald, bluish latex mask to conceal his true identity. He would often wear other latex masks over it when committing crimes. At other times he would peel of his bluish latex mask to reveal his new impersonation (then later on remove that one to reveal his bluish mask again...)
- Scooby Doo Monsters Unleashed, naturally, made use of this trope: Heather Jasper-Howe, unmasked not twenty seconds prior as the villain, is then revealed to be Jonathan Jacobo aka. the Pterodactyl Ghost, wearing a full-face latex mask (and presumably fake breasts).
- Used briefly in Bloodfist VI where the main villain disguises himself as an elderly tourist at first. To their credit, after most of the mask is pulled off, the actor is left with patches of latex and glue on his face until continuity loses track of them.
- Seen in Captain America: The First Avenger, for the Red Skull's human disguise. It is a rare aversion in that the mask slips a few times before he finally does away with it completely.
- Lampshaded by MAD: "Really? Nobody's impressed that I'm wearing a face as a mask? Really?"
- Parodied in German comedy Neues vom Wixxer where one of the characters dons a perfect latex mask that looks exactly like his face, just with added moustache. In the original Der Wixxer main antagonist wears such a mask over his trademark bulky skull mask.
- Played with in Johnny English; the villains make a near-perfect mask of the Archbishop of Canterbury as part of the Big Bad's plot to make himself king, but they suspect (correctly) that English knows about the mask, so they scrap the idea and decide to trick the real Archbishop into going along with their plan. Naturally, English tries to remove the mask that the not fake Archbishop is not wearing, and Hilarity Ensues.
- Could be said of the full-body cow disguise used in Top Secret; the rubber bovine suit becomes totally realistic when put on, despite having obviously painted-on brown spots and black rubber boots instead of hooves (done via mixing in shots of a real cow with the painted spots and boots). The disguise works well enough for the two men inside the suit to slip past the guards, and it even manages to fool a young calf (whom sucks the udder, presumably giving the guy in the back a blowjob that surprisingly arouses him) and a larger male bull (don't ask!)
- Parodied in Shriek if You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth when the survivors try to discover the true identity of the killer, revealing hundreds of masks before getting the answer.
- In Machete Kills, the assassin El Chameleón can look like anyone. He's portrayed by Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lady Gaga, and finally Antonio Banderas.
- The short film Stripped by Mark Jackson. You should be VERY thankful that things like this do not exist in real life.
- Used to evil effect in the movie "The List of Adrian Messenger". A serial killer with a theatrical background uses a series of disguises to kill a group of people standing between himslef and an inheritance. We only see who it really is later in the movie. To confuse matters further a half dozen guest stars appear in disguise as well and are only revealed at the end.
- A very extreme example of this is featured in the Anonymous Rex novels, where the whole premise is that dinosaurs are still alive, just disguised as humans. Using very complicated latex costumes. Egad.
- The TV movie adaptation had the dinosaurs hide themselves using Hard Light holographic projections...is that better?
- Setting aside that the movie kind of sucked, this is revealed in one scene to be a recent switch — as in, probably in the last couple years. The characters need decoys, so they pull out the old latex costumes, which, aside from being terrifying and obvious fakes, don't look too much different from the holodisguises the characters are using right now.
- The books Hand Wave the "elaborate costume" trick by saying it's also part evolution; the dinosaurs (which, undisguised, are quite dinosaur-shaped, if human-sized) have developed soft, rubbery skeletons so that they can fit into the costumes without, for example, having an elongated velociraptor snout poking out of a human face. It works if you're willing to ignore the fact that this pretty much defeats the purpose of having a skeleton to begin with.
- In Bruce Coville's My Teacher Is an Alien books, this is how aliens disguise themselves as humans. Somehow it works despite them having very different features such as extra eyes.
- To be fair, it's not simply latex, it's some sort of alien technology (note, for example, that it can automatically change skin tone). And while aliens in that series can look very weird by human standards, the aliens sent to Earth were basically (and probably purposefully) humanoid; Kreeblim just had to deal with only using two-thirds of her usual vision for a while.
- In Dominique Jean's La Fiancée du Vent, the heroine, who can exist in 3 places at the same time, uses a latex mask to pass for a friend and pretend to betray herself, so as to work as a double agent with her enemies.
- Subverted in HP Lovecraft's "The Whisperer in Darkness", in which the mask and hands used for Latex Perfection by a disguised alien aren't latex at all, but the actual face and hands of the abductee it's imitating.
- Goosebumps occasionally used this trope, as well as the spin-off TV series, but perhaps the most famous use was in "The Haunted Mask" stories, where whoever wears a creepy, hyper-realistic mask that was taken from a mysterious party shop is transformed; the mask attaches to his or her face and takes over the mind of the wearer, making him or her act evil. In the sequel ("The Haunted Mask II"), a mask resembling a ghoulish old man even goes as far as making its victim wearer become very old and weak.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The Vigilantes use this a lot. In fact, Alexis Thorne carries a red bag that contains the necessary tools to create latex disguises. One book explains that Alexis had Hollywood aspirations, and while she couldn't get a job as an actor, she proved to be very good at dressing up actors. Those latex disguises have certainly proven to be very helpful!
- The Yuuzhan Vong in the Star Wars Expanded Universe have a (typically bizarre and painful) biotech version of this trope, the ooglith masquer, a full-body suit of, essentially, incredibly thin fungus that lives parasitically off its wearer and can mimic human-like features, even copying the wearer's expressions to a degree (although masquers are sometimes noted to have odd, understated expressions). Masquers are so effective that the humanoid-but-decidedly-not-Human Alien Vong were able to successfully disguise themselves as human for years at a time.
- In the Wraith Squadron novel Mercy Kill, Yuuzhan Vong biologist "Scut" joins the team and specializes in creating neoglith masquers, a refinement of the original design that does away with the inconvenient and painful parasitic elements in favor of quickly-grown, disposable masks that imitate a specific target with great accuracy. Over the course of the novel he creates a number of masquers to fake a variety of general and specific appearances, but the most impressive example is the "Embass" masquer, a full-body suit which successfully converts the team's Human Alien actor into a monstrous lobster-fish-man that completely takes in the marks, even when they perform medical and genetic tests on it!
Live Action Television
- In spite of his known penchant for elaborate pranks, Ian of Stark Raving Mad manages to fool Henry and the audience for an entire episodeEpisode by disguising himself as a funeral home employee.
- Rollin (Martin Landau), Paris (Leonard Nimoy), and Casey (Lynda Day George) on Mission: Impossible not only made use of this trope, but gradually turned it into a cliche. This was done in two ways: In some early episodes, the target would be someone who just so happened to look like Martin Landau with make-up and a wig; then Rollin Hand would later replace this person. The other version, which was done occasionally with Landau and almost always with Nimoy and George, was to use an ordinary guest actor for the target; then once Rollin (or Paris or Casey) had donned the disguise, the guest actor would play him as well. Many episodes actually showed the team Master of Disguise creating the mask and studying the mannerisms of the person he/she was planning to impersonate to make it look plausible that they could make the switch.
- In the 1980s revival series the masks were made automatically with a digital camera (with an umbilical the size of a small fire hose), a computer, and a sort of vacuum forming machine.
- Interestingly, in the first movie Tom Cruise actually did play a guest character (a senator) who as Ethan Hunt he later impersonated. It was pretty good too, despite the rest of the film being a Base Breaker.
- Used frequently in The X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen.
- A high quality rubber mask was worn by a bank robber in an episode of NUMB3RS and it was totally convincing, though the wearer wasn't impersonating anyone in particular, just concealing his own appearance.
- Spoofed in Sledgehammer: the female KGB spy turned out to be a male KGB spy behind a latex mask, however, the rest of the bodily alterations were apparently permanent (so that he/she could win the Miss Iron Curtain pageant).
- Similarly spoofed in Police Squad!'s second episode, when a pretty cocktail waitress in a club turned out to be a bearded Frenchman in a mask and wig.
- The Master in Doctor Who uses the latex mask routine several times in the Third Doctor era — totally convincing while he's wearing it, the mask suddenly becomes an obvious lump of rubber when he takes it off. In one episode, the disguise also seemed to involve being nearly a foot shorter while wearing the mask.
- Of course, considering that this is the series (and race) that gave us the Does Everything Tool in the Sonic Screwdriver, the Master being able to create masks that do that kind of stuff is a little more believable. In his first appearance he had a deal with the Nestene Consciousness, controller of the living plastic Autons - he could have gotten them then.
- However, despite this great disguise he'd still in some way refer to himself as The Master, usually by translating it into another language.
- On some occasions, he'd pull a reverse trick - slap a disguise of himself on someone else while he makes a getaway.
- The Rani also pulled this one in her debut appearance, disguising herself as an old woman, and the new series gives us the Twelfth Doctor wearing an actual dead person's face over his actual face to disguise himself as a Clockwork Droid.
- In the new series Doctor Who, the Slitheen use actual dead people to form complete body suits in this fashion.
- One wonders whether this was borrowed from the Warwolves, in Marvel Comics' Excalibur, who did the same thing.
- In the serial City of Death, the main villain has a head which is a mass of tentacles with a single eye in the center. Despite this, a latex mask enables him to perfectly appear as a human being complete with eyes, tongue, facial expressions, etc. Bonus points for the villain's real head being bigger than his head when masked as a human.
- Spencer in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive at one point assumes the form of the much younger, much more female Ronny and succeeds. He'd done disguises of this nature before, but this one really embodied the trope. In a similar manner, his Super Sentai counterpart, Makino, does the same with female team member Sakura. For Makino it was a one-time thing, but Spencer can turn into pretty much anybody with a rubber mask regardless of age or sex or size.
- In another particularly egregious example, aliens in V used latex masks to disguise themselves as human despite having noticeably larger heads (thereby causing some problems for the makers of the action figures).
- In the episode "The Secret Underground", the Resistance Duo Mike and Juliet board the main mother ship, undercover as Visitor scientists disguised as humans (while wearing the Visitors' distinctive orange jumpsuits), and at one point, Diana nearly catches Mike and Julie, until our heroes peel off their latex masks to reveal Reptilian heads underneath, thus letting them pass without any trouble. But in the next scene, it's revealed that the Resistance Duo "impersonators" are indeed the real Resistance Duo, wearing latex Reptilian masks and having pulled masks resembling their human selves over their scaly disguises (we don't see them peel off their Visitor heads, although we do clearly see them peeling off the human masks to reveal their alien masks).
- In V: The Final Battle, a Visitor fifth columnist disguises himself as Mike Donovan to make Diana believe Donovan has been killed.
- In the 2009 version of V, the aliens cover themselves in human skin that grows and ages with their bodies. In fact, one of Anna's preferred execution methods is skinning. The V in question dies a very painful death, despite his own skin remaining intact.
- Done twice in a single episode of Alias, and then never seen or heard of again.
- Used once in The BBC Robin Hood. Which is set in 1192.
- In an episode of Due South, Ray Vecchio and Benton Fraser are each simultaneously abducted by someone in a mask of the other.
- A staple of the Canadian action show F/X: The Series. Averted in the sense that lead character and makeup/effects artist Rollie Tyler often takes several hours to create the masks he wears, which are applied as separate strips with supplemental makeup. The same goes for his arch-nemesis, Victor Loubar. On the other hand, they do fall prey to the "extrapolate the face from a few photos" setup.
- In Sci Fi Channel's The Invisible Man, the character of Arnaud De Thiel (aka De Fohn) manages to disguise himself as a perfect copy of the office gopher, Eberts, for an entire episode. He is found out when the characters find his 'mask' in Eberts's apartment and further identified when he won't shut up.
- As a fun bit of trivia, Arnaud De Thiel is also the name of the first case of identity theft legally recorded in France.
- Better known for the name of the man he stole the identity of, Martin Guerre.
- An episode of The Dukes of Hazzard used this trope to try and ruin Bo and Luke Duke's reputations. Boss Hogg apparently found a fellow who made such masks to order from people's photographs.
- Used more improbably than usual in an episode of The Wild Wild West when Artemus Gordon wears one latex mask under another for a double reveal, (when he impersonates the henchman Leto impersonating him.)
- An episode of Eerie Indiana had Marshall using a "Disguise Yourself So Even Your Own Mother Can't Recognize You" Disguise Kit to pretend to be an Amish-like IRS agent, complete with peel-off mask and wig. Also a nice example of Chekhov's Gun, as the Kit was introduced early on in the episode.
- Partly subverted on The A-Team. Hannibal Smith used disguises like this frequently, but just to hide his own appearance, not look like any other specific person. Usually to screen people he would "send" to the A-Team later. He also apparently had a few regular personae.
- Dr. Marlena Evans from Days of Our Lives was shocked when she witnessed her then husband Roman Brady committing a murder, thus revealing him to be the Salem slasher. However several episodes later, "Roman" pulled off his face mask to reveal that it was actually Tony Di Mera underneath, seemingly having undergone a Face-Heel Turn, or was it?. The murderer turned out in the end to be Andre, Tony's identical cousin.
- An episode of Get Smart parodies The Fugitive when Max is framed by a rubber mask-wearing impostor. At show's end the real criminal is caught, and in a TV-drama-style night scene Max walks off, putting on the captured rubber mask...and walking straight into a lamppost in the process.
- Spoofed in Scrubs, the episode "My Balancing Act". In one of JD's daydreams, Dr. Kelso pulls off his face to reveal Carrot Top underneath.
- In another JD's mental opera singer (don't ask) interrupts him just as he's about to kiss what is clearly an attractive woman. The singer pulls off her wig (and only a wig), revealing an ugly guy in drag, complete with facial hair.
- In yet another example, JD is wondering how he could use the Janitor's fear of Carla to his advantage. The fantasy cut is to a straightforward scene of Carla telling the Janitor to leave JD alone, but then she doesn't know how to speak Spanish, which tips the Janitor off to the fact that it is JD in an implausibly good disguise. When he takes off the mask, JD is revealed, still in a nurse's uniform, but suddenly with his own figure.
- Childrens Hospital: Malin Akerman is Jon Hamm.
- Used a few times in Lois and Clark. They even justified one case by showing how it takes a long time for the Master of Disguise to achieve it with makeup.
- The Mission: Impossible version was examined by the MythBusters: Adam and Jamie got silicone rubber masks of themselves from a professional mask-maker (to be precise, it was SPFX Masks) and were instructed by an acting coach in an attempt to see if they could fool people. There were little problems here and therenote , but the disguises managed to fool fans, Kari, and Grant until they got close enough to notice the Uncanny Valley, so the myth was declared plausible.
- She Spies episode "Learning to Fly" included this gem, with the rarely-seen complication: "Mine's stuck!"
- The Cheers episode "The Improbable Dream" includes this reason why Sam might not want to date Kirstie Alley's character.
- Catherine Martel from Twin Peaks does this after the fire burns down the mills. Disguised as a Japanese business man. In fact the actor Piper Laurie had to come on set disguised in order to keep the plot twist a secret and she managed to fool a couple of the other actors; including her on-screen husband.
- Batman episode "Smack in the Middle". The Riddler's henchwoman Molly puts on a mask made from Robin's face and masquerades as him.
- The Slammer: When Melvin and Pete are abducted and replaced by the aliens, the aliens where latex masks that somehow perfectly conceal their lumpy and misshapen heads (and also disguise their longer hands somehow).
- Sherlock: One of the theories for Sherlock's survival in "The Empty Hearse" involves Moriarty's body being with a latex mask of Sherlock's face good enough to fool John.
- The Following averts this in a way in its second season. Followers of the first season's antagonist continue his work while wearing latex masks of him. The result is particularly effective, since the masks are much more realistic and not "perfect" in the sense of this page, and so drop the people wearing them straight into Uncanny Valley.
- An episode of a Show Within a Show in The Famous Jett Jackson has a new supervillain calling himself Mr. Kilimanjaro (with a heavy African accent) gathering all of Silverstone's enemies for a dinner to announce his plan to deal with Silverstone. The bad guys get together and immediately start boasting about their recent crimes, trying to outdo one another. Kilimanjaro then peels off his face to reveal Silverstone. Agents storm in and grab all the bad guys with Silverstone revealing microphones in the table. Basically, they just confessed their crimes. For reference, Silverstone and Kilimanjaro are played by different actors.
- Parodied in the opening credits of The Chaser's War on Everything. Chas Licciardello pulls off his face to reveal he's...a chicken?
- Makes a brief appearance in the video for Britney Spears' song "Toxic" when a stewardess rips the "face" off a fat, balding businessman to reveal a Brad Pitt lookalike underneath.
- Makes a brief appearance in video clip of U2's Hold me, Thrill Me, Kiss me, Kill me - just watch.
- The very end of Switchfoot's "New Way To Be Human" music video features Chad Butler yanking his face off to reveal that he's actually Tim Foreman, at which point the other Tim rips off his face to reveal that he's actually Jon Foreman, at which point the other Jon pulls off his face to reveal that he's actually Jerome Fontamillas.
- That isn't Jerome. He didn't join the band until at least a year later. It could possibly be the legendary "Chin", namesake of their first album.
- During L.E.G.O.'s video for "Te Robaré El Amor" ("I Will Steal Love From You") a female shopper unmasks to reveal a much larger male robber.
- They Might Be Giants's "Marty Beller Mask" reveals that the band's drummer Marty Beller is secretly Whitney Houston in a mask. (The song was retired from performance after Houston's death.)
- At Summerslam 2005, a man in the crowd tried to attack The Undertaker during his match with Randy Orton. Undertaker hesitated to strike the man, mistaking him for an overzealous civilian, but the distraction allowed Randy to beat him. The man then pulled off his latex mask to reveal he was Randy's father Cowboy Bob Orton, and the Ortons mocked Undertaker for falling for his disguise.
- In the tabletop RPG Cybergeneration, there is an entire subculture - the Facedancers - devoted to the high-tech version of this.
- Active Flesh Masks from GURPS: Ultra-Tech even have tiny motors to make then move properly.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Naked Snake is given a mask that remarkably resembles a major in the enemy army. If you call a specific character over the radio while wearing it, he explains how it is the cutting edge of masquerade, with the ability to allow the wearer to blink with the mask blinking with it. Naked Snake promptly replies with a query of why they didn't work on the ability to have its mouth move with the wearer, to which the person on the other line shrugs it off, calling the man who invented the mask "just weird". (Though in the creator's defense, while someone may not be suspicious of a guy who doesn't talk to you, they will definitely be suspicious when the guy doesn't appear to blink for a while.)
- It fulfills its intended purpose of getting Snake through the Colonel-only security checkpoint, but the trope is subverted when Volgin becomes suspicious of the disguised Snake because crotches are hard to disguise, latex perfection or not.
- In Metal Gear Solid, although the player doesn't find this out until well after the fact, one of the NPCs you interact with turns out to be master of disguise Decoy Octopus in a very convincing mask. Octopus, in fact, invoked this trope: he had sliced off his own ears and shaved down his cheekbones in order to remove distinguishing features under masks.
- Speaking of Octopus, there's the face camo that Snake nabs off of Laughing Octopus in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which is somewhat of a justified example, if only because it's explicitly tech and not just a fancy disguise. Still, it does have the problem that it has nowhere to breathe out of.
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village has Don Paolo disguising himself as Detective Chelmey with a mask featuring a full body suit. It gets more ridiculous in the second game where he disguises himself as Flora who is about half his size.
- Unwound Future has him impersonating Dr. Schrader, the Dean of Layton's university and Layton himself during their temporary truce. Paolo pulls each one off so well that even Layton requires some serious contemplation on each person's mannerisms to begin catching on.
- Jean Descole is just as ridiculous. In Last Specter he disguises as Doland Noble, an old man half his size and with a completely different body shape and in Miracle Mask, he's disguised as Angela Ledore, a woman.
- This was how LeChuck disguised himself as the sheriff in the first Monkey Island game. A bit more justified, due to his use of voodoo powers to aid him.
- In Tales of Monkey Island, LeChuck is turned into a human. During a conversation in the second episode, Guybrush can test this theory by pulling on LeChuck's face, thinking he might be wearing a mask. He's not.
- Can be seen in the trailer for Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time, when after a typical thieving by a silhouetted Sly Cooper, we fade into the Cooper Gang hideout, where Sly enters with his loot, only for him to peel off his latex Sly Cooper mask and reveal Dimitri underneath (it should be noted that his silhouetted tail actually changes from raccoon to lizard and that he was also smoking, with his cigar completely hidden by the mask!) It isn't currently known if something like this will be in the real game though.
- In Team Fortress 2, this is how the Spy's disguise ability looks to the enemy team (to the Spy's own team, it's just a paper mask over his face).
- Taken to an extreme level in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies , where The Phantom wears layers of masks underneath each other, each of which are indistinguishable from the person the mask represents.
- Although, once his villainous breakdown begins, you can clearly see the eye-sockets and possibly the jaws sagging. Amusingly, his eye color changes with each mask but then once the breakdown begins it suddenly shows black eyes as opposed to the color used when he was wearing that mask calmly.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Dark Smoke Puncher wears a completely convincing latex mask over his ninja mask threetimes. It is, however, justified as working best for wrinkly faces, especially obscured with facial hair. Even though right after explaining this, it's still considered "impossibly perfect" in-universe.
- In the Furry Comic Babe In The Woods, the animal people from another dimension wear 'dermaflage' suits that function as this trope.
- You know the Read or Die example mentioned in Anime and Manga? Yomiko herself pulled off this trope in And Shine Heaven Now, disguising herself as Walter to avoid capture and arrest by the British Library. It seemed to have worked, since the only one that saw through it was Walter himself. She later disguises herself as Integra Hellsing to get on the Major's zeppelin to rescue Anita King. Most people were fooled, but the chordewa Reseda and the Captain were not, since paper cannot disguise one's scent.
- Some jewellery store robbers did this. Not to look like anyone in particular, but just to disguise their appearances without people realising they were disguised before they pulled out their weapons. It worked so well that even afterwards witnesses, and cops looking at the security footage, didn't realise they were disguised. But the make-up artist wasn't in on it – he'd thought the makeup was for a party. So when he saw the footage on the news, he immediately went to the cops for protection, as he was the only one who'd seen the robbers' real faces.
- This mask. Rather creepy... especially regarding what uses criminals could put it to.
- They have. A 30-year-old Polish man wore the mask and gloves of a young black man and was convincing enough that someone got arrested in his place.
- Another variation occurring a few times had a black man using a silicone mask and gloves of a "handsome" white man for pulling bank robberies.
- However, masks like those can be used in harmless practical jokes, even to simply driving around in one.
- In this story, a twenty-something man was able to pass as an elderly one. Suspicion was raised when the man had young-looking hands, but was only discovered after he went into a bathroom on the plane and returned without his disguise.
- The sequel to this story will involve someone with the budget to purchase not only the mask, but the associated "sleeves" to go with it.
- In most cases, these were done using silicone masks manufactured by SPFX Masks, a company that specializes in realistic and horror masks. When those crimes have occurred using the masks, they went to the company's founder, Rusty Slusser, who was shocked and appalled for criminals using masks for evil purposes. Another company called Greyland Films also makes rather decent realistic masks, but out of foam latex (like many movie prosthetics/masks are), and while some can be pretty realistic, they are not as impressive (or expensive) as the SPFX masks are.
- There is also Composite Effects, which also makes hyper-realistic silicone masks, including a few realistic ones (such as their "Mac" series), but mostly specializes in REALLY INCREDIBLE horror/fantasy-related masks (most famously their imp mask ). So far no robberies were committed using these masks thankfully, but they have proved popular in haunted houses/attractions and for harmless pranks or amusing YouTube videos.
- Composite Effects has created a spinoff company called Dermal Synthetics whose goal is to create lifelike masks for use by people with facial disfigurements. They currently offer male designs in Caucasian ("Martin", Asian ("Jae"), and African ("Derek") styles, and female designs in African ("Denise") and Caucasian ("Emma") designs. An online review of the Emma mask may be found here, and the You Tuber has also demonstrated how realistic the mask can be by filming her own girlfriend's reaction to it.
- Be advised that Rule 34 is definitely in effect. For the time being, the subculture in question simply refers to its membership as "Female Maskers", although sometimes rubber fetishists and furries are included.
- ThatsMyFace.com offers stiff resin "3D portraits and wearable masks" made from customer-supplied photos. Given that Shapeways already offers online fabrication of anything customers can submit in the appropriate programming language (weapons and other obviously dangerous things excepted, of course), it seems like only a matter of time before some demented genius starts marketing an online mask-making service.
- Aside from professional sources like the above-mentioned SPFX Masks, there are also dozens of hobbyists around the world who make and sell masks of varying levels of realism (including the usual mythical/fantasy creatures, even fan creations such as Scooby-Doo!) In addition, a growing number of companies offer full-torso and lower-body suits. Full one-piece bodysuits are available, but would-be impersonators must still pay steep fees and wait several weeks for completion.
- There was also this time when professional jumper Jeb Corliss attempted to parachute off the Empire State Building in New York. He sneaked in wearing an elaborate disguise including a fat suit and a full-head latex mask that transformed him into a mustached, balding middle-aged man. Upon entering the observation deck, he stripped the fat suit to reveal his jumper outfit and parachute but kept the rubber head on when he was eventually caught by the police as he tried going over the guard rails. People on the deck at the time didn't realize that the middle-aged "daredevil" was actually the former host of Stunt Junkies in disguise.
- Probably one of the closest uses of this trope in Real Life to fiction is the story of Robert Barron, a former CIA operative who specialized in making easily-donned and removed latex masks for agent insertions into the Eastern Bloc. He now uses those skills to create makeup prosthetics for people who suffered disfiguring accidents, cancer, or birth defects. Look at some of the pictures of his patients in the linked video. Latex Perfection, indeed.
- Another interesting real-life example of this trope was at Europride 2005 in Oslo, Norway, during a lecture on homosexuality and fetishes, the leader of Revise F 65 came in to put on the lecture wearing one realistic latex mask underneath another◊, peeling off the first mask to symbolize coming out of the gay closet. Once the other realistic skinhead mask was revealed underneath, the audience laughed at the example of "maskception," the leader saying "Well, we can say that I just came out of the closet now, can we?"◊ The reveal was to represent that gay fetishists would often come out of the closet twice, the second as a fetishist.