Growing up, Halloween was always my favorite holiday. There was just something about that fall night that excited me, even more so than with Christmas. I love the history of the holiday and everything that it represents. I have so many fond memories trick-or-treating and actually “feeling” that the barrier between the living and the dead was thinner. There was something about the air every Halloween night…it was just different.
When I became too old to trick-or-treat I started handing out the candy. I couldn’t just answer the door and give out a piece of candy though; I had to dress up in something scary. The first year I did this was 1985 and it was so much fun that each year I expanded on it, eventually creating a walk-thru yard haunt, the first of it’s kind in my hometown of Jamestown, Rhode Island. In doing this I became obsessed with collecting Halloween masks. I am not talking about the cheap ones you would get at your local department store either. I became obsessed with the higher-end masks that you would buy through the mail, before there were Halloween-themed stores or the internet.
Though I do not collect to the degree that I once did, I still try to add one mask to my collection each year, as a treat to myself. This year’s mask is the subject of the first entry in this series, Black Moon by Ghoulish Productions. When I first started collecting there were only a handful of mask companies that I would buy from (Don Post Studios, Distortions Unlimited, Be Something Studios, Death Studios and House of Horror Studios). Now, Don Post Studios and House of Horror Studios are out of business and Be Something Studios is called Zagone Studios. Thankfully quite a few new companies have popped up offering great quality masks.
Werewolves have always been one of my favorite monsters, thanks to the 1981 movie The Howling. Though I also enjoyed An American Werewolf in London, I am not a fan of the four-legged type of werewolf. In my opinion werewolves should walk upright on two legs. My other issue is with the majority of werewolf masks that have been made over the years; most of them for me were just missing something. Sometimes it was the hair, the eyes or the mouth (or a combination of the three) that prevented me from purchasing them.
On a recent visit to Salem, MA, I saw this mask sitting in the window of a fun store right along Essex Street. This store has always offered a great variety of quality masks but this is the first time that I saw something that I knew I really wanted for my collection. The best part about buying at a store is that you can see the mask up close, looking for any possible imperfections and seeing the actual quality. This is especially important because in the past, when buying through mail-order, oftentimes what you received in the mail looked a lot different from what was shown in the catalog.
Ghoulish Productions has been in business since 2000 and have always offered a wide variety of original creatures in latex. Though many of their items can be bought at the Spirit Halloween stores every October, the real variety is on their website. They do sell a few werewolf masks but in my opinion this one is the absolute best and well worth the $100 price tag.
The sculpture of this mask, by artist George Texta, is amazing. The wide open mouth look does not always work but on this monster it does. The teeth definitely look like they could do some damage. The tongue sticking out is a great touch. The long ears, a must on werewolf masks, are perfect in length and size. The deep creases around the eyes and snout add a lot of aggression to the overall look of the piece. When looking at this mask in profile, you see a hint of a human face that has been distorted from the transformation from person to werewolf, a great touch!
The paint work is also excellent. The overall color is a charcoal-gray with darker creases and an almost-black nose. The teeth are very dirty looking and the tongue is very realistic. What sold me on this piece though are the eyes. Most companies just paint a round circle with a black dot in the middle. Ghoulish Productions goes all out with the eyes, giving this mask life. In all my years of collecting, I have found that the eyes can make or break a mask, regardless of how good the sculpture is.
The hairwork for a mass-produced mask is also excellent. There is no fabric hair on this piece but actual long strands of individual hair that flows really nice. Even though it is glued in place, as opposed to being individually punched in, it still looks very natural and only adds to the realism of this mask.
Lastly, the quality of latex is also good. It’s a nice thick pour and will last for many years as long as you don’t use a Styrofoam head (these dry out masks very quickly). This is a great piece overall and highly recommended for collectors of masks, especially fans of werewolves. Though it is doubtful this mask will show up in stores like Spirit, you can always buy one direct from their website or on eBay. If you are like me, and are hesitant to buy online without seeing something in person, rest assured that this mask looks just as good, if not better, than the pictures used online.