Monday, October 5, 2015

A Monster Mask Mystery

Sometimes when I start writing a post, it begins as one thing and ends as another.  Initially, this post was about trying to identify a mask, but it turned into a tangential examination of Halloween masks used in classic television shows and movies I recall fondly from my childhood.  In other words, I'm easily distracted.

Last spring, I drove a fair distance to attend what appeared to be an enormous estate sale chock full of retro goodies.  What particularly caught my eye in the ads for the sale were numerous Ben Cooper/Collegeville plastic Halloween masks. Once inside and after fighting my way through the crowd, I finally found the room with the masks, just in time to see a lady grabbing every plastic mask there. I pushed toward her to see if she'd left any, but she hadn't.  However, she had passed on a rubber mask which I grabbed.



 It looked familiar, but I couldn't recall where I'd seen it.  It initially reminded me of one of the masks used in the Elvis Presley movie, "Tickle Me"


But that mask turned out to be a "Hunchback of Notre Dame" mask sold by Bert Wheeler of Hollywood Magic.

Image courtesy monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com

Another Wheeler mask used in the movie is "The Were-wolf".
 
Image courtesy monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com

This mask reminded me of one used in the Happy Days episode "Give the Band a Hand" when Potsie attempts (and fails) to scare Mr. Cunningham while wearing a werewolf mask.  However, it's slightly different.

 Images courtesy of me.  I can't believe there were no pictures of this on the internet!



I believe it's the same style mask that was used frequently in Scholastic's Dynamite magazine.



But back to the hunt to identify my mask.

I then thought my mask might be the one used in the Monkees' episode "Monkee See, Monkee Die":


which was also used in the Gilligan's Island episode "It's Magic":


That mask turned out to be a mask from the "Meet the Family" line (middle row, second from right):


Apparently, not much is known about the manufacturer of this line of masks.

One of the other two castaways is wearing a Don Post "Mummy" mask.


The other is wearing a mask similar to the Don Post "Bela" mask seen in the bottom left below, but has an open mouth with fangs.


I believe these are "Bela" masks worn by two "Monkees" below, again from "Monkee See, Monkee Die":


The "Bela" mask was pulled from the Don Post line due to a lawsuit filed by the Bela Lugosi estate.

 A rather tattered-looking Wheeler Were-wolf also makes an appearance in this Monkees episode.

These masks in turn reminded me of The Brady Bunch episode, "The Slumber Caper" in which the boys don masks to frighten and disrupt Marcia's first big slumber party.  



These pictures are courtesy of secretfunspot which did an excellent analysis of this episode.

The masks used by The Brady boys were Don Post as well, seen in the ad below.

Image courtesy monstermasks.blogspot.com

So none of the masked I recalled were the mask I found.  Ultimately, I found the answer right on the mask itself, hidden under the chin:


Topstone was the budget-friendly version of the more expensive masks marketed by Hollywood Magic and others.  Mine is called "Creep Beat".  I'm not sure if that was a swipe at beatniks or The Beatles.  He does have a decidedly Beatle-esque mop top.

I found a picture of someone wearing this mask "in the wild" on monsterkidclassichorrorforum


Topstone went out of business sometime in the 1990's.  You can view a selection from their 1989 catalog here.

I hope you enjoyed this exploration of Halloween masks in TV and movies.  If you have any information regarding these masks or any corrections to my information, let me know.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

My dad had a skeleton mask similar to one of the ones in the Topstone catalog. He used to wear it when he walked my sister and I around the neighborhood when we were kids in the 70s.

FrankO said...

the depth of your research is astounding and impressive -- i remember so many of these masks, but connecting the dots between masks, makers, and uses in pop culture is really great. i wonder if it's a swipe at beatniks, and not the beatles. if it came out in the 70s, i would think the beats were far enough back to make fun of in this way. the beatles, not so much.

side note: i desperately want a Dynamite "HOT STUFF" t-shirt now. : (

Tom said...

>the depth of your research is astounding
Yes, the my obsessive nature reaches manic heights at times. That combined with my ease of distraction leads me on all kinds of exciting tangents!
>if it came out in the 70s
I believe the mask came out in the mid '60's.
>i desperately want a Dynamite "HOT STUFF" t-shirt now
Me too, and the werewolf mask!

FrankO said...

hooray for obsessive searches in random directions, then. : ) mid-60s mask, then even MORE "beatnik" not "beatle" to me. i mean, the beatles were on ed sullivan in, what, 1965? i suppose that could tie in to a beatlemania thing, but it just seems odd to make a mask with a grotesque tangent on a (then) new fad, on the chance it would sell, but maybe they did. they made crazy beatlemania items for all sorts of things just to cash in .

my google-fu can't find that shirt anywhere. i wonder if it was one of their iron-ons. (it's pretty big for an iron-on, though.)

Tom said...

>hooray for obsessive searches in random directions, then
If I can be the only return for a google search of "Potsie wears werewolf mask", I'll earn some serious google street cred.

> i wonder if it was one of their iron-ons
I recall them putting Hot Stuff iron ons in the magazine, but I'm sure there was a more official one.

Todd Franklin said...

Great post! It's always a lot fun trying to id these weird masks!

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