The 1961 THE MASK is about a psychiatrist who is given an ancient Aztec or Mayan mask by a patient who has just died. The doctor feels compelled to put the mask on, and has horrific visions of the walking dead, sacrificial altars and weird chambers with plenty of fire to boot. Sort of like Orpheus in the underworld. It was shot in 3D, and I can tell you from first-hand knowledge how absolutely terrifying this movie was when I saw it on its initial release. I was 11 at the time. Loud, electronic music made it even harder to sit through. It was Canada's first shot at a horror film and is almost, dare I say, a work of art for the set pieces the doctor experiences each time he wears the mask. The movie, which could just as easily have been a stage play, holds up very well, at least in the 3D segments. The rest is simply filler. Remade many years later with Jim Carrey, but with a decidedly different approach.
A young archaeologist believes he is cursed by a mask that causes him to have weird nightmares and possibly to murder. Before committing suicide, he mails the mask to his psychiatrist, Dr. Barnes, who is soon plunged into the nightmare world of the mask.
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