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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a child, I loved this episode! I still consider it my favorite Goosebumps movie! Carly Beth is sick and tired of being scared all the time by Chuck and Steve, so she decides to get even. She goes to a Novelty Shop and finds the scariest mask she's ever seen. On HALLOWEEN night, Carly and her friend, Sabrina go trick-or-treating and Sabrina notices that Carly has changed ever since she put the mask on. Later, after she gets her revenge and scares Chuck and Steve, she tries to take the mask off, but it has become her new face. Carly goes back to the store and asks the manager for help. He tells her that only the symbol of love can help take the mask off. The other masks like Carly's start to come alive and try to get Carly Beth to join them. Can Carly Betn find the symbol of love in time? If you love Goosebumps, HALLOWEEN, and masks, you'll love THE HAUNTED MASK!!!
So, I've seen this episode - as well as many of the Goosebumps episodes - many, many times. SO why am I just now reviewing this one? Well, I was putting together a list of the best episodes of the series and when I started with this one I just couldn't find enough space in my blurb to say why it is the best episode of the entire show. To begin with, this was the first episode I saw though I barely remember my first viewing because I was only 5 staying up late one night to catch the premiere. But, when you watch this episode and then begin watching the following episodes you feel as if you've just started watching a completely different show. Why? Because this episode itself is so magical, so well-acted, so well-written, so atmospheric that later episodes - which while many were good still could come off as corny - just couldn't compare. As children, we remember just about every episode to be creepy and fun. But as an adult when you go back and re-watch the most you feel is a tinge of nostalgia as you wince at just how bad some of the child actors were, how bad some of the lines were, and how cheesy some of the villains or stories were altogether. But not the Haunted Mask. It is as effective as ever. Kathryn's performance as timid Carly-Beth still manages to hold up. From her stuttering explanations at how she hates being scared, her revulsion at learning she was tricked into eating a worm and fleeing her laughing schoolmates, to her sinister behavior as the mask's influence begins to take hold. Throw in the scene when she realizes she can't take it off and her ultimate despair when the shopkeeper tells her that this is her new face and you'd think this young girl was gonna go places in the ways of acting. But it isn't just her performance, albeit amazing, that makes this episode so grand. The atmosphere is truly haunting. You actually begin to feel a sense of danger as the mask takes hold of Carly-Beth. The writing and directing are so well-done that you can easily empathize with her rather than write her off as a clichéd TV character, and that makes her descent into madness all the more haunting. It presents a story worth watching: one of a girl who grew to hate herself and wanted to be someone else only to realize that who she was before was the one that was truly loved and only that love can save her in the end. It was pretty heavy for a show aimed at children even within a horror setting. You'll also get in a few laughs as Carly-Beth's erratic behavior starts to border on sociopathic such as when she scares a group of trick-or-treaters and then begins to snicker in a way that is both eerie and somehow funny. My point is this: this was the first episode of the series and the first many people were introduced to and probably the most memorable, but that isn't why it is the best. There were many other great episodes that followed but they were great by Goosebumps standards. This episode is great by its own - not just as a Goosebumps episode but as a standalone television special. It doesn't fit in with the other episodes because they were so plainly obvious that they were low-budget made-for-children TV. The Haunted Mask feels like something else entirely and that makes it special.
The Haunted Mask
The real reason that teenagers love wearing Halloween masks is because they cover-up all of their acne.
Unfortunately, once on, the macabre masque in this horror movie cannot be removed.
Teased by her friends for her faint-heartedness, Carly Beth (Kathryn Long) ditches her duck Halloween costume for a more menacing mask that she stole from a costume shop.
Unbeknownst to her, the mask has strange properties that manipulate her behavior. And when she goes to remove it, she's shocked to find it's permanently affixed to her face.
Adapted from one of R.L. Stein's most infamous Goosebumps tale, The Haunted Mask also marked the genesis of the long-running television series.
Although the narrative is frightful and mindful, especially for the prepubescent market, it's the outdated special effects that really do this parable an injustice.
Besides, nowadays, instead of a haunted mask it would have to be a haunted sexy pirate costume.
The first in the Goosebumps series, based on the works of R. L. Stine,
is an enjoyable tale that doesn't hold back when it comes to delivering
scares aimed directly at kids. However, it IS a two-parter and the
first part is mostly set up with some hinting at what's to come in part
Kathryn Long plays Carly Beth Caldwell, a young girl always being scared by some boys in her school because her reactions always raise a laugh. But she's fed up of being the one on the receiving end of the scares and this Halloween Carly Beth wants to get her own back.
Directed by Timothy Bond and written by a few folk who have managed to streamline the source material, this is a decent start to the TV show, even if all of the best stuff is in the second half. At least there isn't a feeling that everything is going to be handled with kid gloves. In fact, that worry goes out of the window as soon as we see Carly Beth about to take a bite out of a sandwich she doesn't realise has had some worms added to it.
Kathryn Long does okay, Colin Fox is suitably intriguing as the owner of a novelty store that houses a selection of masks and everyone does what is asked of them. The weakest person on screen is actually R. L. Stine, who introduces the episodes.
Not too bad although everything really pays off in part two.
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