The Mask (1961) – movie review

mask pic 9

mask dvdThe Mask (1961)

Who knew The Mask with Jim Carrey was a remake? I didn’t. This original was not however, a comedy. In fact, in 1961, this was probably considered an extreme horror film. When a young archeologist steals an ancient mask from the museum, he thinks he has a great find. However, when he puts the Mask on, he is inundated with visions of hell, until the evil takes over and drives him mad. The mask drives the wearer to carry out his/her desires, which in most cases here, leads to death. The Archeologist, tries to explain this to his analytical psychiatrist who disregards the notion. Not wanting to hurt anyone, the archeologist commits suicide. However, before his death, he mails the Mask to his psychiatrist, who can’t help but put it on. Soon, the psychiatrist is transformed into a murderous psycho.

This was one of the early forays into 3D using the blue/red lenses. The movie has 3D parts and amazingly, the dvd even came with the glasses. The way it works, as described in the intro, is when the person places the Mask on his face, the viewers put on the glasses. So, we get to see the trippy visions of hell in 3D.mask pic 4

The nightmare sequences are the highlights of this film. They are ghastly, ethereal sequences of floating skulls, zombie-like henchmen, wicked hags,  masked women on alters, and shooting flames – visions of horror worthy of a Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson music video. The sound compositions in these sequences add to their weirdness, using strange effects, reverb, muted vibrations and other interesting techniques. Not all the 3D gags work great, the floating eyeballs don’t really look like they’re coming at you, nor do some of the flame effects but, it does create a real depth of vision in some scenes.

The film would be average as a thriller, were it not for the nightmare scenes. The acting is stiff in the beginning and the pace is rather slow. However, with the hellish scenes, it is transformed into a cult-classic that makes for interesting viewing. It was later re-released as The Eyes of Hell and was shot in Toronto, Canada. It is thought to be the first Canadian Horror Film.

8 thoughts on “The Mask (1961) – movie review

  1. I love the old horror films. This seems familiar but not sure if I’ve seen it or just something about it. I’d love to watch it.
    Without all of the CG, the older horror movies had to use lots of lighting and shadows. Made for much scarier films. Can’t forget the music.

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