Did 'The Mask' Rip-Off An Obscure Canadian Horror Movie?

To be fair, he asked somebody to stop him.
Did 'The Mask' Rip-Off An Obscure Canadian Horror Movie?

When you hear the title The Mask, you probably think of a green-faced Jim Carrey murdering gangsters and swing-dancing (it was 1994, after all) thanks to a magical Loki mask, which just looks like a hunk of wood and not Tom Hiddleston. But The Mask is also the name of a 1961 3-D Canadian horror movie that also happens to be about a random dude who stumbles upon a mask with supernatural powers.

Kino Lorber

New Line Cinema

But instead of turning him into an unnecessarily horny cartoon character, in the ‘61 movie, the titular mask drives him mad with visions of Hell. This was part of the theatrical gimmick; every time the dude put on the mask, audiences donned their 3-D glasses and witnessed the unadulterated psychedelic horror (that was really just a bunch of canucks in ridiculous costumes) popping out of the screen.

In some ways, the two movies couldn’t be more different, but their setups are undeniably alike. When The Mask came out in 1994, multiple outlets pointed out the similarities; one review called the ‘61 film “a clear forerunner,” while Entertainment Weekly noted that while The Mask’s “cartoony special effects may be inventive and original … its title and premise aren’t.”

When The Mask was restored by the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015, one programmer tactfully acknowledged that it was “essentially the same story” as the ‘94 film, but when looking into the issue, they weren’t able “to tie the comic book or the Jim Carrey movie to this picture through research.” It seems especially likely that the creators of the original Dark Horse comic book were inspired by the ‘61 movie judging from the visual of the mask itself.

TIFF/Dark Horse Comics

Son of the Mask, on the other hand, was likely just inspired by whatever post-Scream debts Jamie Kennedy had accrued.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: New Line Productions

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