How ‘The Black Phone’ made those scary masks for the Grabber

The protagonist of Paul Leni’s 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs provided early inspiration for the Grabber’s crazily stretched grin. “That particular grimace, I thought, might work well for the smile mask,” Derrickson said.

Savini and Baker were also inspired by circus masks, Greek masks, antique dolls, old movies like Mr. Sardonicus” (1961) and The Coney Island Barker. “We had a whole vision board in our studio, just little ideas and things that inspired us,” Baker said.

“And Scott had photos,” Savini said. “So it’s been a back and forth process with Scott.”

“Scott was like, ‘It has to look like this [the Grabber] found, not something he created,'” Baker said. “They wanted it to be very old, very antique looking. Maybe something made for a theater production or something.”

Derrickson sent some old ceramic masks for reference, as well as other types of handmade masks. “Jason started to really refine it and do 3D concept work of Tom’s design to show me what he thought it would look like,” he said. “We almost ran out of time during production. Because I spent most of my pre-production trying to get the masks just right and it just didn’t come out quite right. And then everything fell into place at the last minute.”

Ethan Hawke as Grabber in a scene from Universal Pictures "The black phone."

Ethan Hawke as Grabber in a scene from Universal Pictures’ The Black Phone.

(Fred Norris/Universal Pictures)

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-06-25/the-black-phone-masks-explainer-tom-savini How ‘The Black Phone’ made those scary masks for the Grabber

Sarah Ridley

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