A mask that through magical or mundane means, kills the person wearing it. The mask does this by smothering, strangling, suffocating, crushing, or poisoning its victim.
Subtrope of Artifact of Death
and possible Artifact of Doom
. Related to Evil Mask
. Contrast with Face Hugger
which, unlike the Murderous Mask, is often sentient and able to apply to the unwilling victim's face all by itself.
See also Clingy Costume
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Anime and Manga
- Inuyasha features a mask with a piece of the Mineral MacGuffin embedded in it. It latches onto people's faces to take over their bodies, which then quickly begin to rot.
- In Jojos Bizarre Adventure Dio initially believed the Stone Mask was this after seeing it sprout spikes when blood got splashed on it. It technically does kill people this way, but it also immediately revives them as superpowered vampires.
- One comic featured an African tribal mask that, when donned, would scratch the wearer with a needle coated with a drug. The drug would drive the wearer into a beserker rage that eventually caused their heart to explode.
- Roman Sionis, the villain better known as Black Mask, has been known to kill or disfigure his victims with toxic masks.
- DC Comics' resident super-sorcerer, Doctor Fate, wears a helmet that forces its user to wear it for life, and then absorb their life force into it.
- In Spawn, one bum almost got smothered when he donned Al's mask for a joke.
- One Wonder Woman issue was about her being stuck in a mask that's rigged to explode.
- In Diane Duane's Rihannsu Star Trek novels, Romulan starships are frequently named Rhea's Helm. The titular, legendary helm was the product of a sorcerer-smith who was asked to create a helmet that would make the wearer impervious to all harm. When the helm was donned, the demon she'd bound into it bit the wearer's head off—nothing can harm a dead person.
- The Graham Masterton horror novel Death Trance features a scene where one of the bad guys, a psychotic Vietnam vet, puts on a full-head demon-mask featuring a leyak, an Indonesian evil spirit. He writhes in agony, to the accompaniment of screams and crunching noises, as his buddies try to get the mask off, but when it finally comes free, the dead man has no head left. Something has eaten his head while he was wearing the mask...
- Somewhat related is Yuuzhan Vong vonduun crab armor. If worn by a non-Yuuzhan Vong, it will repeatedly attempt to kill its wearer.
- A notable example of the Vong armor is the one that the Sith lord Darth Krayt wears in the Legacy comic book series. The fact that it is eating Krayt alive is the source of much angst on his part and his frantic attempts to find a cure.
- In an episode of Relic Hunter a cursed mask causes its last wearer to have his/her face disfigured and then contract a wasting disease that will kill the victim if the curse is not passed to another person. The mask used to belong to a French executioner and the only way to permanently stop the curse is for Sidney to find the executioner's tomb and return the mask there.
Mythology and Folklore
- In Celtic Mythology and French folklore, Princess Dahut-Ahès of the legendary Breton city of Ys used to take a different lover to bed every night provided the lover wore a black mask during their intense evening of pleasure. However, at the first rays of dawn, the mask would tighten and strangle the unfortunate suitor.
- An old Dungeons & Dragons monster invokes this: called the Executioner's Hood, it's a flat membrane that lives on the ceiling, dropping down on the heads of unsuspecting adventurers to suffocate them.