There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are changing and twilight falls upon us sooner and sooner. That means that it’s time for another 31 Days of Horror, my annual horror movie blog series. In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the theme is Canadian horror movies.
Canada’s film industry has always been overshadowed by the Americans, who dominate screens big and small. That said, we’ve managed to put out some pretty amazing movies, and we’re particularly good at horror. To start things off, we have what’s considered Canada’s first horror movie: 1961’s The Mask, a.k.a. Eyes of Hell.
As hard as it may be to believe, Canada hadn’t made a horror movie until 1961. Directed by Julian Roffman, this horror film has a 3-D gimmick: the viewer has to put on 3-D glasses at certain parts of the movie.
Doctor Allan Barnes (Paul Stevens) has a patient, archaeologist Michael Radin (Martin Lavut) who claims to have uncovered a mask that gives him hallucinations and drives him to kill. Naturally, Dr. Barnes doesn’t believe Radin. Radin leaves, and mails the mask to Dr. Barnes. Then he commits suicide.
Dr. Barnes becomes obsessed with the mask and starts wearing it. Dr. Barnes’ girlfriend, Pam Albright (Claudette Nevins), becomes worried about Barnes. She has good reason: things soon start to get murderous.
Whenever anyone puts on the mask, the movie informs viewers to “put on the mask”, which is their cue to put on their 3-D glasses. The movie was a hit and re-released several times as Eyes of Hell.
The Toronto International Film Festival and the 3-D Film Archive recently restored the movie to its original glory. You can see the original trailer below, and I tossed in a video of horror master Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins) talking about the film. Check it out if you ever have a chance.