BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Mask (1961) - Blu-ray Review

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The Mask (1961) - Blu-ray Review

4 beers…in which Canada makes its very first wide-release horror movie.

Wait. What?!

It’s true. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that our polite friends up north decided to tingle their spines with the psychological art-house 3D terror of director Julian Roffman’s The Mask (AKA Eyes of Hell) but – before we get ahead of ourselves – let’s get real about Canada and its horror offerings. From David Cronenberg (Scanners) to Bob Clark (Black Christmas), the wintery nation has given us (and gives still) plenty of chilling entertainment to celebrate.{googleAds}

It must be admitted; however, that even before Cronenberg, Canada was pretty damn good about making their horror memorable.

To its credit, the horror genre was a unique part of Canada’s burgeoning film community. Some might suggest that, for awhile at least, Canada was all about the b-movie experience. Call it Canuxploitation. The release of Julian Roffman;s psychotronic classic – newly restored in stereoscopic 3D from the original 35mm elements – on blu-ray from Kino Classics is proof enough of their commitment to things that go bump in the (fright) night.

"Atmospheric and completely comfortable within the murderous film noir genre as well as horror, The Mask is a disturbing interpretation of the whole psychedelic freak-out experience BEFORE it was wildly accepted by the masses"


 

The Maskbegins with the death of a very disturbed patient who confesses to experiencing a very real dream about killing a young woman before taking his own life. His psychiatrist (Paul Stevens) stumbles into the ownership of the ancient tribal mask responsible for his patient’s early demise. He just doesn’t know it.

The police come to ask him questions about the young man. He answers them freely. All the while, there’s a package on the corner of his desk. It is the mail. And inside the package is something twisted and ancient and very, very powerful. When the police leave, the doctor opens the package, reads the letter from his deceased patient and then accepts the dare to PUT ON THE MASK.

And this is when the b-movie gets all psychedelic and twisted on its viewers. If, during the film’s original run and its many, many midnight showings across Canada as its cult status grew, you were a member of the audience, you would be prompted by the dialogue to put on your 3D glasses at this point and enter into the void. You know, share in the good doctor’s psychedelic freak-out experience.

The dark sequence is the first of three separate 3D nightmarish experiences in the movie and – full of fog, freakish-looking ghouls, and a trio of hooded figures sacrificing a nubile young lady – are dark hallucinogenic trances that twist even the most innocent of minds. The doctor is not immune to the trip and, as was the case of his former patient, starts behaving … badly.  

The Mask (1961) - Blu-ray Review

     

Distributed by Warner Bros, The Mask certainly made the rounds here in The States. I would have loved to have seen the reaction. As a horror film, it’s damn effective in its chilling details and the 3D moments are truly fog-laden cinematic nuggets of creepy greatness. I image that it might have taken Americans by surprise, too. Roffman – who, unfortunately, would never direct another movie – doesn’t shy away from shocking viewers. The Mask goes dark with the material and delivers a sort of twisted message for the immediate future: drugs are bad, mmmkay?

Atmospheric and completely comfortable within the murderous film noir genre as well as horror, The Mask is a disturbing interpretation of the whole psychedelic freak-out experience BEFORE it was wildly accepted by the masses. Groovy.

Put the mask on … NOW!

The Mask (1961) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime:
83 mins
Director
: Julian Roffman
Writer:
Frank Taubes, Sandy Haver
Cast:
Paul Stevens, Claudette Nevins, Bill Walker
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
The greatest thrill since you saw the first picture move!
Memorable Movie Quote: "I must. I must experience the greatest act of a human mind: to take another life."
Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 1, 1961
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 24, 2015
Synopsis: A young archaeologist believes he is cursed by a mask that causes him to have weird nightmares and possibly to murder. Before committing suicide, he mails the mask to his psychiatrist, Dr. Barnes, who is soon plunged into the nightmare world of the mask.

The Mask (1961) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 24, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.67:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Blu-ray 3D
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Long neglected, the original 35mm print of The Mask was in seriously need of a facelift. Preservation was the only option, especially if the midnight screenings were to continue. The fact that The Mask was a low-budget genre flick played in its favor for the restoration process. Maybe for the first time. Released by Kino Lorber for its 1080p polish, the TIFF restoration is a thing of immediate beauty. Crisp and textured, the black-and-white details are momentous. The 3D sequences – have been cleaned and beautified in anaglyph (red/cyan) format and – with the proper glasses (not included) – reveal an experience worth tripping out over. The sound – debuting herein 5.1 surround sound – really kicks up the experience.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Provided by film historian Jason Pichonsky, the commentary film is full of some seriously great information about the making of the film and its legacy. Fans of the film will definitely want to check this out.

Special Features:

Interestingly enough, Slavko Vorkapich’s montage work is the highlight of this release. While we get an interview with Roffman’s son about the making of the movie, true fans will flock to the supplemental material featuring Vorkapich’s montage work. As an experimental filmmaker who contributed montage work to some fairly big movies like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Vorkapich designed the trippy 3D shots of The Mask and, with the help of Roffman, made their practical effects philosophical and so damn weird. A theatrical trailer and a reissue trailer are also included.

  • Julian Roffman: The Man Behind the Mask (21 min)
  • Anaglyph 3-D Sequences (16 min)
  • One Night in Hell (7 min)
  • The Short Films of Slavko Vorkapich (17 min)
  • T.V. Spots
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Reissue Trailer

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