The Haunted Mask (TV special)
|The Haunted Mask|
Hideous masks from the mask shop.
|Written by||José Rivera|
|Directed by||Timothy Bond|
|Country of origin||Canada|
|Executive producer(s)||Deborah Forte
|Production company(s)||Protocol Entertainment
|Original network||YTV (Canada)
Fox Kids (U.S.)
|Original release||October 27, 1995 (U.S.)
October 28, 1995 (Canada)
|Followed by||The Cuckoo Clock of Doom|
The Haunted Mask is a two-part horror television special that first aired on October 27, 1995, based on R. L. Stine's book of the same name. It follows Carly Beth, a timid girl who buys a Halloween mask that would not come off. José Rivera wrote the TV special, and Timothy Bond served as director. The special starred Kathryn Long as Carly Beth, Kathryn Short as Sabrina, George Davis as Steve and Amos Crawley as Chuck, and by March 12, 1996, it was released on VHS.
Carly Beth Caldwell (Kathryn Long) is repeatedly scared by her friends. After getting fooled into eating a sandwich that contained a worm by her friends Chuck Greene (Amos Crawley) and Steve Boswell (George Davis), Carly Beth runs home and rips the duck costume her mom, Kate made for her as a result. She later goes into a mask shop hoping to find something that will scare Chuck and Steve. In the store, she stumbles upon a back room filled with some hideous masks. There, she steals one of them, goes home, puts on the mask and scares her brother, Noah (Cody Jones). She soon notices the mask won't come off, and when it finally does, she and Noah are unsure as to how she unintentionally changed her voice. After putting on the mask again, Carly Beth takes the mould of her head that her mother gave to her and leaves the house.
She starts acting different: she attacks her best friend, Sabrina Mason (Kathryn Short), frightens children and vandalizes the neighbourhood. After scaring Chuck and Steve, she buries the head. While at Sabrina's house, Carly Beth is shocked to find she is unable to remove the mask as it seems to have become part of her skin. She goes back to the mask shop to find the owner waiting for her. The shop owner tells Carly Beth that the mask is a real living face and the only way to remove it is with a "symbol of love." Carly Beth begins to cry out and scream in horror, awakening the other masks who begin to pursue her. Chased by the other masks, she runs to the cemetery and digs up the mold her mother gave her and uses it to deter the other masks and remove the mask from her face. She returns home to her mother, tossing the mask near the door. Carly Beth is horrified to see Noah wearing the mask upon his return.
Production and VHS release
|This section needs expansion with: Production info from It Came From Ohio. You can help by adding to it. (April 2014)|
Filming for the Goosebumps TV series, including The Haunted Mask, began in 1995 in Toronto, Canada. Margaret Loesch, formerly the CEO of Fox Kids, offered Scholastic a TV deal for the series after her son responded positively to the Goosebumps book Say Cheese and Die she had bought for him a day earlier. The Haunted Mask first aired on October 27, 1995 in the United States on the Fox Network, and one day later in Canada on the YTV network as the series premiere of the Goosebumps TV series. The Haunted Mask originally aired as a TV special, although it was later split into two parts. José Rivera wrote the TV special, while Timothy Bond served as director, and Steven Levitan served as producer. Levitan says they had to tone down the horror elements of the special, explaining: "People were concerned because of the broad demographic appeal, much younger kids were watching, so we adjusted to that audience." The special is hosted by R. L. Stine, who is featured in the mask shop that appears in the special.
The Haunted Mask was released on VHS on March 12, 1996 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; this VHS contained a preview of the production for the Goosebumps TV special A Night at Terror Tower and a bookmark. The VHS was ranked 75th in Billboard's list of Top Video Sales in their 1996 Year-In-Video charts, the only Goosebumps video on the list. The VHS had sold 500 thousand copies one week after its release, and as of August 10, 1996, over 2.5 million units of the VHS have been sold.
A sequel to the special, titled The Haunted Mask II, first aired on October 29, 1996. Steve, not interested in wearing his mother's homemade pirate costume, finds and puts on a mask with the visage of an old man. John White replaced George Davis as Steve in The Haunted Mask II.
The Haunted Mask has themes of peer taunting and family frustrations. The desire to fit in and peer pressure causes Carly Beth to behave in a disturbing manner, because, according to Michelle Erica Green from FamilyWonder.com, she does not appreciate her positive qualities. Children's Video Report wrote that at its conclusion, Carly Beth has to "learn to love and accept herself if she is to find happiness." Chicago Tribune's Scott Blakey stated that the special reveals "the dark side of childhood cruelty toward those who find themselves out of step with their peers or the in-group."
In the United States, The Haunted Mask received an 8.2 rating and was viewed by 14.1 million people. The special was YTV's highest rated episode up to that point, with nearly three million viewers.
Critical reception for the TV special was mostly positive. Scott Blakey from the Chicago Tribune stated that, properly presented, The Haunted Mask is "a cautionary tale that will thrill viewers 10 and older," but "it has the power to spook younger children." The video was rated four out of five stars in the DVD & Video Guide 2005, and three out of five stars in Blockbuster Entertainment Guide to Movies and Videos 1998. Complex.com's Frazier Tharpe named it the 12th best Halloween themed TV episode and called it one of the scariest Goosebumps episodes. Similarly, Michelle Erica Green from FamilyWonder.com, who gave the special a C rating, felt that the The Haunted Mask was the scariest of the Goosebumps episodes released on VHS. However, she thought that the video had stereotypical characters, a corny feel-good message, and hokey special effects. In 1997, for her performance in the TV special, Kathryn Long received a Gemini Award nomination for "Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series".
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