Production: Twentieth Century Fox, 1996
Running Time: 45 minutes
The day before Halloween, Carly Beth's friend Steve begs her to tell him where she got the scary mask she wore the year before. Meanwhile, the mask frees itself from the graveyard and attacks the shopkeeper who created it, taking over his face. When Steve sees the old man with the hideous face, he follows him to the closed shop, where he sneaks into the basement and steals a similarly hideous mask.
On Halloween, Steve's friends shun him when he taunts them and tries to scare little kids. But soon he finds himself out of breath, exhausted, and becoming decrepit, matching the age of the mask. When the shopkeeper finds Steve and demands that he torment Carly Beth or be stuck with in the mask forever, Steve must decide whether his compassion exceeds the evil that is rapidly becoming a part of him.
Best For Ages:
6-8: Like the previous HAUNTED MASK episode, this Halloween horror-fest will be too scary for many children. Only those who are not easily frightened should watch.
9-12: Themes of peer pressure and the desire to be cool may resonate for older viewers.
Educational Value: Out to recess. No Halloween safety video.
Entertainment Value: Instead of going for screams by shocking viewers, THE HAUNTED MASK II builds a slow, creepy story about a troubled boy. The superb masks are very lifelike; the spiders, age makeup, and other effects aren't as convincing.
Violence: A boy smashes a sculpture of a girl he knows from school. A mask attacks and attaches itself to an older man.
Frightening Situations: Kids sneak into a creepy abandoned store basement. A boy gets a Halloween mask stuck to his head, then discovers that his entire body is aging. Spiders crawl out of his hair. Children scream when he approaches.
Questionable Behavior: Kids break into an abandoned building, steal a mask, stay out after midnight on Halloween, eat candy without getting it checked by an adult first, lie to their parents, and try to scare each other.
Mature Themes: Growing old is treated in this video as a great curse, while elderly people are characterized as ineffectual and resentful.
Although Steve suffers more physical horrors than did Carly Beth in the original HAUNTED MASK, this video isn't quite as scary - perhaps because Steve isn't plagued with self-hatred, just a typical adolescent desire to shock people and assert his authority. A six-year-old who was frightened by THE HAUNTED MASK wasn't nearly as disturbed by THE HAUNTED MASK II, though he did express concern about getting old, which the story portrays as a fate worse than death.
THE HAUNTED MASK II offers some blatant morals - it's wrong to steal, it's wrong to torture people - but it lacks the heart of the better GOOSEBUMPS installments, which focus on family ties and friends learning values from one another. Only at the very end does this video move the viewer emotionally, when Steve demonstrates his willingness to sacrifice himself for Carly Beth.
That theme is explored with more compelling consequences in Disney's HERCULES, in which the hero learns that his heart is more important than a formidable outward appearance. For another story where kids discover evil close to home and pay the price after an evil spell, try THE WITCHES, in which Anjelica Huston is scarier and more subtle than the store owner in THE HAUNTED MASK II.