The Mask director Chuck Russell reveals that the action comedy was originally conceived to be a horror movie. 1994 was a huge year for Jim Carrey, he starred in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask. While looking at those three movies, one of them is not like the others. And it appears as if it could have been even more different. The Mask is a comedy, but it's a bit dark when compared to the other 2 outings that made Carrey a box office super star.
Russell (The Scorpion King, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) spoke to XFINITY about the 30th anniversary of Dream Warriors and also shared the interesting anecdote about The Mask. As it turns out, The Mask was originally conceived as a horror movie with Carrey starring as a Freddy Krueger-esque character. Russell explains.
"It's a great example of really fighting for your vision in a film. We changed it from a horror film into a comedy. It was originally conceived as being a horror film. That was a real battle. New Line wanted a new kind of Freddy movie."
Now that would've been pretty interesting, but one has to wonder if it would have been as big of a hit had they gone the horror route. Russell went on to talk about the source material for The Mask and how it appeared to have more than a passing resemblance to Freddy Krueger. Read what Russell said below.
"By coincidence, I had seen the same original Mask comic they ended up buying, and I thought, 'That's really cool, but it's too derivative of Freddy Krueger.' It really was. He would put on the mask and kills people. And have one-liners. It was a really cool, splatterpunk, black and white comic. They've redone the comics to be more like my movie, but the original comics were really cool, dark and scary."
All in all it seems like their decision to go with a superhero comedy worked out for everybody's benefit. Carrey went on to be a mega star and the movie also helped to launch the career of Cameron Diaz. Carrey was even nominated for a Golden Globe and the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, though it lost to Forrest Gump.
Since The Mask went on with the comedic tone it became more popular among children and even spawned an animated television show entitled The Mask: Animated series. Originally Carrey had signed on to do a sequel, but ended up pulling out, which caused a bit of a problem for Nintendo Power Magazine. The magazine had run a contest for someone to win a cameo in the upcoming sequel. When Carrey bounced, Nintendo Power had to pay the winner a cash equivalent prize. In 2005 came a sequel minus Carrey called Son of the Mask that was critically panned and flopped at the box office.
It's fun to speculate what The Mask would have looked like as a horror movie and to be honest, the premise sounds a lot cooler than what they ended up with. Who knows? Maybe they can reboot the movie in the style of the original comic books. Stranger things have happened.