There is a lot to talk about in Behind the Mask. Who is Leslie’s mentor, many guessing Billy from Black Christmas? The over-emphasis on virginity for the final girl, in my opinion. The bridge between horror and comedy. A lot is happening in this movie, and it is such an enjoyable movie that going back you find even more.
One of the things that stands out for me is the idea of the mythos surrounding people. In Behind the Mask, it is, of course, fake. “Leslie” has created a backstory for himself that is supposed to help fuel the killing he wishes to do. He doesn’t actually need to have come from dramatic origins; he just needs those around him to believe that he did to fuel and strengthen the fear.
I find that we frequently do this with real-life monsters as well, notably Ed Gein. I remember listening to a true-crime podcast, and the host described Gein as one of the most prolific serial killers ever. Except here’s the thing, Gein is not a serial killer, let alone a prolific one. He was a murderer, and I am not trying to say that doesn’t matter, but he was not a serial killer. No, Gein was mostly an incredibly troubled graverobber with some not so savory obsessions after graverobbing. I don’t want to rehash the details of what he did, it’s not important to the point I wish to make.
Gein’s legend has all but overtaken the reality of who he was. He has inspired countless movie killers based largely on aspects of his crimes and, in some cases, complete fabrications of who he was. His mythos has propped him up, and the legend we have imagined him to almost matters more than the reality of the killer he was.
It does not actually matter what Leslie’s real backstory was. He has a legend he can attach himself to, and that legend will grow larger than life so he can use it to fulfill his purpose. Now I get it might seem a little gross to compare the fictional with the nonfictional, but reality seeps into our art. The idea of the legend of someone mattering more than their reality is something that happens in both the fictional and real-world often.
It is yet another thing that is touched on in this movie that is a fascinating subject all on its own. That is part of what keeps me coming back to Behind the Mask. I could probably break down and then wax poetic about many different parts of the movie and still find more to say. I wish a lot of these themes had been explored more deeply in the movie, but I do appreciate that they are touched on none the less.