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Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Mask (1961)

Starring Paul Stevens, Claudette Nevins, Bill Walker, Anne Collings, Martin Lavut
Directed by Julian Roffman
(actor & director credits courtesy

After an ancient mask drives a patient of his to suicide, a psychiatrist examines the mask and becomes captivated by weird visions and dangerous impulses after wearing it.

One of Canada's earliest feature films, this is a distinctive horror thriller with 3-D sequences conceived by famed montage designer Slavko Vorkapich.  It's not a great film, but is well-acted and directed, and the nightmarish imagery in the 3-D scenes, cleverly synched with moments in where Stevens dons the mask, is appropriately eerie.  The mask itself is a triumph of design, capturing the feel of the ancient society of the occult that it's tied to in the screenplay, and is well-utilized in closeups and as backgrounds in the visions Stevens endures.  The story is unfortunately not quite as strong as the visuals, although there are some interesting parallels between wearing the mask and drug addiction, but in my opinion, more exploration into the cult's rituals and their meanings would have engendered more interest in the narrative.

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