The Mask (1961)

JULIAN ROFFMAN

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB

Canada, 1961.  Beaver-Champion Attractions, Taylor Roffman Productions.  Screenplay by , , , dream sequences by . Cinematography by .  Produced by Julian Roffman, .  Music by .  Production Design by Herbert S..   AlpertFilm Editing by .  

Silly B-movie nonsense from the sixties, notable for being the first Canadian horror film shot (partially) in 3-D. A psychiatrist dismisses the rantings of a patient who insists that a tribal mask he was researching for his job at the museum has been causing him hallucinations that lead to moral wrongdoing. When the patient commits suicide and the doctor is sent the mask, he begins to wear it and is plunged into terrifying visions that look like Cocteau’s Orpheus underworld on LSD.  The doctor becomes obsessed with wearing the mask (which the audience loves because that is also when they are instructed to wear their 3-D masks), eventually enjoying his own brand of madness and inspiring serious concern from his lady love. Sharp photography and nifty effects in the fantasy sequences can do nothing for a plot that is really just an excuse for the more creative scenes: it’s not like his sojourns into the ghostly underworld have any narrative significance to his terrestrial decline, and little of it makes any sense, even within the logic of this kind of movie.  It’s actually not fun enough for the kind of movie you expect it to be either, but it does have its charms.

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