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film review

Director Julian Roffman’s creepy tale about a haunted tribal mask was the first feature-length horror movie and first feature-length 3-D film produced in Canada.

You can call it a "cult classic," and you can tell us it was the first ever Canadian-made horror film, or that the Toronto-shot 3-D creeper has been restored digitally.

But you can't mask the reality that The Mask was low-budget in 1961, and that its kitschy appeal will be limited to genre fetishists and popcorn-chomping ironists in 2015.

The story concerns an ancient piece of tribal headgear that causes hallucinogenic visions and mood-altering effects to the wearer.

"Put the mask on, now!" the audience is commanded, which is a prompt to don the cardboard spectacles to see lurid, surreal scenes of occult gore and rudimentary pyrotechnics in extradimensional form on screen.

Because those who sample the mask become addicted to its spell, we can see the film as an anti-drug allegory. But a psychologist obsessively believes the wild-eyed mosaic mask can be used as a tool to access the darkest parts of the human mind, where evil is harboured, masked and perhaps brought out for special occasions.

Happy Halloween, by the way.

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