The Ghostface Mask

The Face Of Scream

From Leatherface's disguise of human skin to Michael Myers' even more frightening visage of William Shatner and beyond, masks have played a crucial part in slasher films since their inception. According to Fun World president Stanley Geller, however, none of these come close to rivaling the popularity of the "Ghostface" mask seen so prominently in Scream and its sequels.

"It captured the emotions and spirits of people throughout the world," says Geller, whose company originally created the Halloween mask for novelty stores. "They're presently being sold in maybe 30 or 40 countries. Sales are still extremely strong. 1999 is the biggest year we've had, and 2000 should be equally as big because of the movie coming out in February, which will hype it along."

Although best known for the Scream series, the mask was actually designed by Fun World employee Brigitte Sleiretin prior to the movie's conception. "The idea is something I worked on with Alan Geller, the vice present of the company," says Sleiretin. "We came with an assortment of masks that Ghostface look. Of the entire assortment, that face was the strongest one. The design definitely had something that made it outstanding from the others."

Apparently, Scream director Wes Craven agreed. "Craven had a script for the movie and had been trying to develop a mask with his designers, but just wasn't satisfied with it," Geller recalls. "And then it was around Halloween time and he was visiting some friends, and one of the kids had the Ghostface mask. He looked at it and said, "That's it, that's the one." After that they contacted us, and the rest is history."

Both Gellar and Sleiertin see the Scream face as distinct from any predecessor. "Most masks are either funny or a cartoon of a known character or they're just ugly gore faces," says Geller. "What attracted Craven was that it was a multifaceted look. It's not just horror. It depicts a few different emotions. It's a horrible look, it's a sorry look, it's a frantic look." It's also a look strikingly similar to that of the 19th Century Expressionist painting "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, whichSleietin cites as only one of many inspirations.

"There were influences from music," she notes. "Pink Floyd's THE WALL has some images that have sort of a similar look. Some of the old 1930's cartoon's in black and white also have characters with that type of appearance.

"It's a different looking face from the movie monsters that have been popular in the past," she continues. "It's kind of cool, simple character. That's what appeals to a lot of the younger generation of that are into the movie." This younger generation of fans can spot it in another horrifying creation of the Scream-writer Kevin Williamson. "In Dawson's Creek, it's even on a wall as an ornament," says Geller.

Aside from its obvious role in Scream 3, the mask has continued its journey of terror with an appearance on 90210, followed by a cameo on the Nickelodeon series "Cousin Skeeter" and an unspecified film to be released sometime next year. Geller perceives this pervasiveness as an assurance of continued success: "It seems to me as if this is now a staple in the industry," he says. "and it will remain a staple in the industry."

-Sarah Kendzior "Fangoria"

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