Terror Eyes: Beauty and False Eyelashes in Horror Films

October 27, 2014 • Beauty

As a kid, I was always drawn to VHS cover art that mixed beauty and horror. Admiring the cover of The Silence of the Lambs is one of my earliest memories. Then every time I was at Blockbuster, I made sure to glance over the cover of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, which shows someone with matching red lips and nails using a miniature chainsaw as if they were applying lipstick. It took me a while to realize that it said “Massacre” rather than “Mascara” because how much I had associated it with makeup. Over the years, I’ve grown obsessed with the ways horror movies use makeup and beauty while expressing terror, one of my favorites being through false eyelashes.


I used to have anxiety attacks as I walked by Spencer Gifts at the mall and saw Chucky dolls for sale. Somehow I ended up facing my fear and becoming obsessed with Bride of Chucky and other killer doll movies when I was around seven or eight. I was spoiled with Puppet Master action figures and even the Easter Bunny brought me a Tiffany doll one year. I don’t think any horror movie moment has lasted with me as much as the scene in Bride of Chucky where Tiffany, now reincarnated into a doll, gives herself a makeover and Blondie’s Call Me blares over it all.

There’s another scene that’s really stuck with me, only because it confused me. It’s when Chucky electrocutes Tiffany to death in a bathtub and there’s a close-up shot of her eye with a false eyelash hanging off of her top eyelid. I knew the movie wasn’t real (hello, it’s about killer dolls), but something so real and simple as eyelashes that weren’t connected to eyelids threw me off, even if I now realize it’s actually a mannequin’s eye. I don’t think I would’ve batted an eyelash (pun intended) if the eyelash had been perfectly attached.


Eyes in general are important for horror movies to express and invoke emotion. Watching Marilyn Burns’ eyes in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre during the family dinner scene as Leatherface and co taunt her and try to bash her head in is an experience. The layer of water as her eyes well up and the remnants of black mascara that frame her wide, brightly colored eyes are mesmerizing. I appreciate the detail of close-up eye shots and how the filmmakers choose to decorate eyes, whether it’s more simple makeup for a raw movie like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or something more extravagant like in giallo and Euro-horror movies.

Within the last year or so, I’ve explored more 60s-70s horror and thrillers, with a lot of thanks (and blame) to one of my favorite blogs, Giallo Looks, for inspiring me to dig deeper. I had been familiar with some giallo movies, mostly Dario Argento, but didn’t know the world of gialli was so vast. Groovy and gothic styles mixed with ladies wearing lush makeup, killers that hide behind black leather gloves, and lavish, surreal visuals that make me want to melt. I could go on. However, there’s also the abundance of false eyelashes that I anticipate for every giallo movie I watch. In some instances, there aren’t any false eyelashes and instead they settle for cakey, black mascara, something the Prada Fall 2014 show made grow on me.


I like to consider Edwige Fenech the poster child of false eyelashes in giallo movies. She has a signature look of fluttery lashes combined with killer eyeliner, which is somewhat of a cateye under her lower lashes coated with a string of false bottom eyelashes that extend beyond her actual bottom lash line and meet up with a small cat eye from her top lash line. It’s almost reminiscent of modern gyaru eye makeup so it’s easy to find false eyelashes to recreate these types of looks.

While false eyelashes add a little glamour, I think I like them more for the theatrics. A cheesy exaggeration of terror. Simple eyelashes turn into blown up, cartoonish monsters and I love it. I love the application, whether they look like they’ve been painstakingly applied one by one or – my favorite – the inner corner of the lash band isn’t attached. I even love seeing the layer of real eyelashes versus false eyelashes. It’s almost like how opaque, bright red stage blood–or that strange grey shade in black and white movies–can be so charming.


I’m wearing Fright Night Spellbound eyelashes on top and off brand eyelashes on bottom in photo 1, Fright Night Bat Girl eyelashes in photos 3 & 5, and Kardashian Beauty Scintillate eyelashes on top and off brand eyelashes on bottom in photos 2 & 4.

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