The Mask (1961 film)

The Mask (re-released as Eyes of Hell) is a 1961 Canadian surrealist horror film produced in 3-D by Warner Bros. It was directed by Julian Roffman, and stars Paul Stevens, Claudette Nevins, and Bill Walker.

The Mask (aka Eyes of Hell)
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJulian Roffman
Produced byJulian Roffman
Nat Taylor
Written byFranklin Delessert
Sandy Haver
Frank Taubes
Slavko Vorkapich
StarringPaul Stevens
Claudette Nevins
Bill Walker
Music byLouis Applebaum
CinematographyHerbert S. Alpert
Edited byStephen Timar
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • October 28, 1961 (1961-10-28) (United States)
Running time
83 minutes


The story concerns a psychiatrist, Dr. Allen Barnes (Stevens), who obtains a mysterious ancient tribal mask. Whenever he puts on the mask, Barnes experiences dream-like visions which become increasingly disturbing and violent. The visions begin to alter Barnes' personality, and eventually drive him insane.


  • Paul Stevens as Doctor Allan Barnes
  • Claudette Nevins as Pam Albright
  • Bill Walker as Lieutenant Martin
  • Anne Collings as Miss Goodrich
  • Martin Lavut as Michael Radin
  • Leo Leyden as Doctor Soames


A "Magic Mystic Mask", showing both front and back, which was handed out to theatergoers to view the movie "The Mask" (1961).

The Mask was the first Canadian film to be marketed extensively in the United States since the age of silent film,[1][2] with its use of 3D being heavily promoted.[3] The film was released in the United States on October 28, 1961.[4] Specially made 3D glasses marketed as "Magic Mystic Masks" (as pictured above), were given to audience members and prompts would be shown on screen for the start of each sequence that utilized 3D.[3]

Home mediaEdit

The Mask was released for the first time on DVD on September 30, 2008, by Cheesy Flicks.[5] In 2015, the film was restored by Toronto Film Festival and copyright holders 3-D Film Archive for theatrical and 3-D Blu-ray/DVD release from Kino Lorber.[6]

Critical responseEdit

The Mask received mixed to negative response from critics upon its initial release.

Howard Thompson of The New York Times commended the film's acting, and cinematography, but criticized the film's nightmare sequences, soundtrack, and melodramatic plot.[4] Time Out panned the film, referring to it as 'a bland and hackneyed murder mystery that was spiced up by surreal nightmare sequences' and "tacky" use of 3D.[7] Brad Wheeler of The Globe and Mail gave the film one out of four stars, offering similar criticism towards its use of 3D and plot, stating that its appeal was "limited to genre fetishists and popcorn-chomping ironists".[8]

Some critics, however, were more favorable on the film. Chris Coffel of Bloody Disgusting felt that–in spite of the films thin story–its psychedelic visuals, make-up effects, and set pieces made it an enjoyable B-movie in the vein of William Castle.[9]

The film has since gained a cult following over the years and is now considered a cult classic.[8][1]



  1. ^ a b Marchessault & Straw 2019, p. 351.
  2. ^ Wise 2001, p. 2210.
  3. ^ a b Kroon 2010, p. 41.
  4. ^ a b Thompson 1961.
  5. ^ Allmovie n.d.
  6. ^ KinoLorber 2015.
  7. ^ TimeOut n.d.
  8. ^ a b Wheeler 2015.
  9. ^ Coffel, Chris (January 15, 2016). "[Blu-ray Review] 'The Mask 3D' Takes You on a Trippy, Psychedelic Adventure". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved January 28, 2021.



Websites and periodicalsEdit

External linksEdit