In Dracula (1992), in the scenes in the asylum where Renfield is being held, the guards can be seen wearing cages on their heads. Why? Was this a normal practice? I have heard of head cages for inmates but not guards. I'm not sure what the purpose would have been other than protection, but give the rest of their body is unprotected there has to be more to it. I've included the best image I could find. If I can get a better one I will update.

enter image description here

  • I'd assume the purpose is to protect face from biting and scratching. Oct 31, 2016 at 8:18

2 Answers 2


The implication is that the inmates are potentially violent and presumably the biggest danger from unarmed but psychotic patients is biting/scratching/gouging at the face and eyes.

Clearly the protection is deliberately crude and underlines the primitive and brutal conditions in that setting in a way that more refined protection might not.

You could also speculate that the head cages reflect the appearance of the barred cells and by placing them on the guard's heads it is a metaphor for the idea that the inmates are prisoners of their own madness.

Equally by obscuring the guards faces with a crude and claustrophobic cage they are somewhat dehumanised and more like automata than medical staff. Indeed the whole visual style of the film uses a lot of elements which evoke stylized dreamlike of hallucinogenic states which confuse individual sense of identity and many of the characters are driven by some sort of obsession and it is implied that Dr Seward is as much a prisoner of his work as the peopel he treats (or at least studies).


Was this a normal practice?

No, this was a design choice that is purely fictional, seemingly intended to evoke Victorian/steampunk-style aesthetic.

Staff in mental institutions don't wear iron face guards, nor is there evidence of this occurring historically.

  • 4
    Any way to back this up somehow in order to flesh out this answer a little more?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Oct 31, 2016 at 12:50
  • 3
    This is not entirely accurate. I interned at a facility where the staff wore a mask similar to what a fencer would wear when administering medications to patients at a State ran mental facility. Nov 5, 2016 at 8:07
  • So, you're agreeing that they do not wear iron face guards (like the ones in the movie in question). Thanks for the input! Nov 5, 2016 at 10:34
  • 3
    Uhm...no. that's not what I was implying. That's why I clarified with you're not "entirely" accurate. Staff in mental facilities do wear some sort of protective gear on their face at times. Nov 5, 2016 at 15:10
  • 3
    Gheez. I wasn't criticizing at all. I was just pointing out that I have actually seen staff wear masks at a mental facility. I apologize if you thought that it was criticizing. It really wasn't intended as such :) Nov 5, 2016 at 21:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .