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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Mask aka 'Face of Fire' or 'Eyes of Hell' (3D and 2D) [Blu-ray]


(Julian Roffman, 1961)


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Beaver-Champion Attractions

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:23:02.310  

Disc Size: 45,062,345,757 bytes

Feature Size: 24,677,738,496 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.52 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 24th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1635 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1635 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1558 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1558 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1559 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1559 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)






Special Features: 3-D sequences provided in both stereoscopic (3-D television required) and anaglyph formats (red/cyan glasses not included)
Newly restored Electro-Magic Sound (optional 5.1 Surround during 3-D sequences)
Audio commentary by 3-D film historian Jason Pichonsky
Julian Roffman: The Man Behind the Mask documentary (21:57)
Four trailers and TV spots (original trailer - 2:48, Re-Issue - 1:49, TV-Spot 1- 0:51, TV-Spot 2- 0:28)
3-D Setup Video (for monitor calibration 1:12 3-D Sequence - 16:07)

One Night in Hell (in 2-D or 3-D) (7:24)
Films by visual consultant Slavko Vorkapich:
9413: The Life and Death of a Hollywood Extra (13:37)
Abstract Experiment in Kodachrome (2:22)
Montage Sequences (6 sequences, 11:09 in total)





Description: After the shocking death of a disturbed patient, psychiatrist Dr. Allan Barnes (Paul Stevens) comes into possession of the ancient tribal mask that supposedly drove the young man to his doom. When Barnes puts on the mask, he is assailed with nightmarish visions of monsters, occultists, and ritual torture. Believing that the mask has opened a portal to the deepest recesses of his mind, the doctor continues to explore this terrifying new psychic world even as the mask reveals a latent violence in Barnes' nature that threatens those closest to him.

Shot in Toronto on a shoestring budget, THE MASK (retitled Eyes of Hell for its American release) claims the distinction of being the first feature-length Canadian horror movie. Director Julian Roffman turns the act of wearing the anaglyph 3D glasses into part of the theatrical experience: when Barnes' voice intones the immortal words "Put the mask on, now!," the audience puts on their glasses to witness the doctor's visions, a riot of psychedelic imagery rendered in bright, blazing color. Premiering at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, this edition of THE MASK was digitally restored by the 3-D Film Archive from the best surviving 35mm film elements.

ONE NIGHT IN HELL (3-D Animated Short): From internationally award-winning animation studio and production company Unanico Group, and visionary rock musician Brian May, a 3D phenomenon of 1860s Paris is unleashed on the 21st century. ONE NIGHT IN HELL is a devilish and spectacular animation short that tells the story of one skeleton s journey into a stereoscopic Hell. The film features exclusive new music from Brian May & the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and has a Dolby Atmos track.



The Film:

Also known as Eyes of Hell, The Mask, is an inexpensive Canadian horror film is distinguished by a gimmick which relies upon full-audience cooperation. Anticipating Jim Carrey by 30 years, Paul Stevens comes into possession of an ancient mask which harbors Strange Powers. When Stevens places the mask over his face, the line "Put your mask on now" is supposed to cue the audience to don their 3-D glasses -- whereupon both Stevens and the audience experience a series of hallucinatory images. The major difference is that Stevens' hallucinations give him the urge to kill; it is hoped that the audience will not follow suit. In the early 1980s, a restored stereoscopic version of The Eyes of Hell was released to television in tandem with a pair of 3-D Three Stooges shorts, Spooks (1953) and Pardon My Backfire (1953).

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

A psychiatrist has a patient who believes he has been lured into committing murder by an evil mask. When the patient commits suicide, the psychiatrist receives the mask in the mail. He decides to try it on for himself...

Let's get right down to the main attraction of this movie; when it was shown in theaters, the audience were supposed to put on their 3D glasses whenever they heard the phrase "Put the mask on NOW!", and they would be treated to some of the trippiest 3-D horror sequences they've ever seen. I have to give the movie credit; these sequences are truly bizarre, full of unsettling and grotesque images, and with a nightmarish stream-of-consciousness technique. If the movie was to be judged on these sequences alone, it would have been great.

Excerpt from located HERE

The 3-D effects in The Mask come across unusually well when shown on television, making it one of the better examples of anaglyphic 3-D video available.

The Mask was frequently exhibited in 3-D on US broadcast and cable TV in the 1980s. It has also been issued in 3-D on both VHS and LaserDisc home video formats. In 2015, "The Mask" was restored by TIFF and copyright holders 3-D Film Archive for theatrical and 3-D Blu-ray/DVD release from Kino Lorber. The 3-D segments have been mastered for the first time from original 35mm left/right elements. The stereoscopic quality is vastly superior to all previous anaglyphic presentations.

Excerpt from Wikipedias located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, this Kino Lorber Blu-ray package offers both the 3D and 2D (Standard) versions of the film, The Mask. We will only review the 2D version here.


NOTE: When viewed on a compatible 3-D monitor and 3-D Blu-ray player set-up, the menu offers an option for both 3-D and 2-D playback, but when this disc is viewed on a regular 2-D monitor and 2-D blu-ray player, the 3-D version button is visible but not accessible -- the "Play Movie" option works only with the 2-D version -- there is nothing wrong with your disc, the specialized encoding merely prevents the 3-D version being incorrectly displayed on a 2-D screen.


Described by Kino as "The Blu-ray edition presents the film in stereoscopic 3-D from the original 35mm elements (3-D television, player and glasses required). The DVD edition presents the film in the anaglyph format, and includes the "Magic Mystic Mask", a replica of the 3-D glasses provided to viewers during the original theatrical release. Both include the newly restored Electro-Magic Sound (optional 5.1 Surround during 3-D sequences)"


As told to me by Robert Furmanek (in email): "Like many independently produced films, THE MASK has not been well cared for over the years. After producer/director Julian Roffman sold the rights to 3D Video Corporation in July 1982, the film changed hands a dozen times. Each subsequent owner cared less about the property as a motion picture and owned it strictly as an asset. At one point, the rights were held by a company whose primary business was the placement of advertising in airport terminals!

We acquired the rights in 2008 and put it on our growing list of 3-D elements for future restoration. In November 2014, we learned that TIFF in Canada had an interest in preserving the film. We approached Jesse Wente, Director of Film Programmes at TIFF Bell Lightbox, and worked out an arrangement to collaborate on the project. TIFF's primary 35mm print (with faded Eastman printed anaglyphic 3-D footage) was in poor condition and the initial 1440x1080p scans from Technicolor Digital in Toronto were not usable.

Sadly, the 35mm camera negatives and magnetic audio tracks are long gone. However, the 3-D Film Archive has a nearly complete and pristine 35mm master fine grain which is missing one reel of 2-D material. In addition, we have discrete left/right 35mm footage and an optical track master on the 3-D segments.

Geo. Willeman and Mike Mashon at the Library of Congress were extremely helpful and allowed access to their 1961 copyright deposit print (with the 3-D segments printed in dye-transfer Technicolor) and that helped us to repair problematic spots on our master elements.

TIFF agreed to scan and oversee restoration of the flat footage in 2K while Greg Kintz tackled the 3-D segments (with our wetgate 4K scans) and the mono optical audio restoration. Technicolor in Toronto did new scans of our superior 35mm elements and the TIFF release print was used for seven minutes (the missing reel in our fine grain) and a handful of damaged shots in our discrete left/right 3-D footage. The Archive utilized its arsenal of digital tools to extract the left/right images from the select anaglyphic shots needed for the final restoration master. Damaged segments in our discrete 3-D scans were sent to Thad Komorowski for additional dirt and scratch removal.

The final results are outstanding.

With the combined talent and resources utilized to accomplish this restoration - and the opportunity for viewers to finally see this incredible footage in discrete polarized left/right 3-D and hear the pioneering Electro Magic Sound in 5.1 - I can honestly say that Julian Roffman's psychotronic classic THE MASK is truly better than ever before.
(thanks Bob!)


I concur with Bob - the image quality is very strong - the print may show some occasional, frame specific, weakness (marks in the credits etc.) but the density is impressive providing great contrast and black levels. There is frequent depth with tight detail. I thought this BD gave an exceptional presentation. The captures can speak for themselves! 




















Audio :

Advertised as "newly restored Electro-Magic Sound (optional 5.1 Surround during 3-D sequences)" which is cool with a few surprising separations. There is also an option for the original mono - via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1558 kbps It exports depth through the soundtrack in the more bizarre sequences with effects limited to the budget. The score is by Louis Applebaum - who had done mostly short documentaries and it adds some haunting atmosphere.  There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

There is a lot of love in this release with the supplements going the extra mile. We get an informative audio commentary by 3-D film historian Jason Pichonsky who fills in many details of the process and production history. There is a 22-minute documentary entitled Julian Roffman: The Man Behind the Mask acting as a kind of Making of... for the film with some depth on the man behind the movie. There are four trailers and TV spots (original trailer - 2:48, Re-Issue - 1:49, TV-Spot 1- 0:51, TV-Spot 2- 0:28) and a 3-D Setup Video for monitor calibration running juts over a minute plus a 16-minute 3-D Sequence that is fun. The 7.5 minute One Night in Hell (gets the option of 2-D or 3-D) and This short includes exclusive new music from Brian May & the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and has a Dolby Atmos track*. There are also films by visual consultant Slavko Vorkapich; The 14-minute 9413: The Life and Death of a Hollywood Extra, Abstract Experiment in Kodachrome running only a couple of minutes and a Montage of 6 sequences running a total of 11-minutes. These are all, inventive and cool to see. The Steelbook includes a signed Philip Ridley art card!

*NOTE: RE: Atmos. My software recognizes this as TrueHD, but from Wikipedia: "Because of limited bandwidth and lack of processing power, Atmos in home theaters is not a real-time mix rendered the same way as in cinemas. The substream is added to Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus. This substream only represents a losslessly encoded fully object-based mix. This substream does not include all 128 objects separated. This is not a matrix-encoded channel, but a spatially-encoded digital channel. Atmos in home theaters can support 24.1.10 channel, but it is not an object-based real-time rendering. Filmmakers need to remix and render the TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks with Dolby Media Producer.".



I was able to sample the 3-D on a friend's system and those sequences are pretty kitschy. The restoration of The Mask is not only impressive but the film itself is kind of an artistic marvel - with scenes reminding me of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The film, itself, another rare 3-D rare artefact, and deliriously entertaining. This surreal style infused in Vorkapich's effects are so imaginative and add another layer onto a standard horror film experience. What a great film to bring to Blu-ray and what an impressive presentation. Tack on the commentary and extras and we may have another candidate for our year-end poll. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 5th, 2014

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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