81 minutes – Horror
Release date: November 10, 1961
US release date: November 1, 1961
US distributor: Warner Bros.
The Mask was the first Canadian feature to be distributed in the U.S.A. by a major studio and was Canada’s only contribution to the 3-D craze of the 1950s, although it was released four years after the trend had died out in Hollywood. Also released as Eyes of Hell, The Mask anticipated a Jim Carrey film of the same title by 30 years. In this film, lead character Doctor Allan Barnes – played by American actor Paul Stevens – comes into possession of an ancient mask which allows the wearer to use new and stange powers. When Stevens places the mask over his face, the audience, prompted by the line “Put the mask on…now!” was supposed to put on their cardboard masks with built in 3-D glasses so that both Stevens and the audience could experience a series of hallucinatory images. In fact these were the four 3-D sequences, each lasting a few minutes. The plot involved an ancient Indian ritual mask that drove those who wore it to murder. Hallucinations accompanied the wearer’s murderous intent, leading some to believe that the mask was a metaphor for illegal drug use.
Also see: 13 Scary Canadian Films.