Need My Frankenstein (Mask)

By Jonathan Crimmins 

It was October, 1995.  My little brother and I had moved away from our home in Connecticut during the summer.  We had come with our mother after our parents had gotten divorced.  I had originally been planning on going out as my favorite movie monster, Godzilla.  Despite all my searching, I was unable to find a Godzilla mask. Unfazed by this, I had hoped to modify some directions for a dinosaur outfit I had read about by constructing a costume out of a large, rectangular box.  However, failure to find such a box (let alone the necessary materials required to make it look like a dinosaur) and an increased amount of homework forced me to scrap those plans.  As Halloween grew closer and closer, I struggled to figure out a replacement costume.  It was my mother who came up with the idea of going as Frankenstein’s monster and although I was initially hesitant about it, she eventually convinced me it was a good idea.  All I had to do was find the box with my Halloween stuff in it; not only would I be all set, but I would even save some extra cash.  Besides, I was in a new city and had new friends, so nobody at school would ever know that I was recycling an old costume.

This would be the third (and final) time I would go trick-or-treating as Frankenstein’s monster.  I had worn a standard thin plastic mask with an elastic strap the first time and a stuffed cloth mask a few years later.  In fact, the only reason I had gone out as Frankenstein’s monster again was because I liked a mask a friend in my neighborhood wore one year.  As luck would have it, our families went trick-or-treating together and my mad scientist costume that year had the unintentional effect of making it look like the monster and its creator were trick-or-treating together.  When I went as the monster the next Halloween, he decided to go as the hunch-backed Igor in order to continue the effect.

However, I ran into another setback.  Despite going through each and every one of the moving boxes, I could not find the mask.  It soon became clear that the mask was in one of the boxes we had left with some family friends from our old neighborhood.  You see, the apartment we moved into did not have the space for all of our boxes and those of our other housemates.  Having one of the family friends go through the boxes and mail us the mask was simply out of the question at this point; Halloween was just too close.  One night, my mother brought back a solution to the problem:  a new Frankenstein’s monster mask.

It was an almost oval-shaped mask made from hard white plastic that glowed in the dark.  The only parts of it that did not glow in the dark were the red, jagged scar on the forehead, the holographic eyepieces and the black hood on the back.  I should explain a bit more about the eyes.  They were thin discs made of some kind of plastic that let you see out one end while people looking at the other end could only see holograms of human eyes.  Although I thought that the eyepieces were cool and I did like the fact it glowed in the dark, there still were some things about the mask that I did not like.  I was less than pleased with the pointy plastic buildup on the tip of the nose, the fact that it had a hood and the lack of any bolts on the mask.  After all, how can you be Frankenstein’s monster if you don’t have bolts sticking out of your neck?  Heck, I would have even settled for bolts sticking out of either side of the head.  Without them, I might be mistaken for someone going as a glowing guy with a nasty head wound.  But mom made it clear that she would not go shopping again and this would be the mask I would be wearing on Halloween night.  She also said nobody would notice the hood in the dark, let alone the lack of bolts.  While I eventually agreed that a hood was not so bad, I was still concerned about getting some bolts.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon the solution for the missing bolt problem during the free reading period in my English class.  I was reading a story where a brother had scared his sister earlier in the book by wrapping himself up in toilet paper and sneaking up on her while she was watching a mummy movie in their darkened living room.  Later in the book, she starts watching the movie “Frankenstein” and tells her brother had he had better not pull a similar stunt using bottle caps taped to his neck.  Not knowing whether or not I would want bottle cap “bolts” on the mask permanently, I decided not to use any glue.  Knowing from past experience that Scotch tape didn’t stay attached to skin very long, I opted to tape two Coca-Cola bottle caps onto the lower sides of the mask.  I had originally tried wrapping them in aluminum foil in order to make them look more like bolts, but the tape just would not stay attached to the foil.  In the end, I just taped on the two bottle caps without any sort of covering.  I figured that their red coloring might work well with the red scar, assuming anyone noticed what color my bolts were in the dark.

When Halloween came, the rest of my costume was complete.  Since the old suit jacket and glowing vest depicting a haunted pumpkin patch (made from the remnants of the very first Halloween costume I had ever worn as a small child) were unavailable, I wore a black sweatsuit with green gloves I had borrowed from my mother.   My black sneakers and the mask completed the ensemble.  Wearing the mask was actually quite comfortable, as there was a big block of white foam in the area where the wearer’s forehead was expected to touch.  I also imagine that the mask’s use of a big, black elastic headband to secure the mask in place led to the inclusion of the foam.  The use of a hood also allowed more cool night air into the mask, preventing the buildup of sweat that can occur in other types of masks.  

We ended up trick-or-treating in another city, as some family friends we had made when we first moved into the state had invited us to go with them.  We had a great time and got a lot of candy, but the mood was somewhat spoiled by what we found upon the return to our friends’ house:  our Jeep had shaving cream sprayed all over it.  I was angered by this not only because of the shaving cream, but because we had done nothing to deserve getting a trick played on us.  The family’s father had been at home giving out candy all night, so nobody had any reason to bear a grudge.  Why would anyone violate one of the simplest rules of Halloween like that?  Having spotted three kids around my age walking down the road, spraying out splatters of the remaining shaving cream from an almost empty can, I prepared to bum rush them.  I was stopped by the family’s son, who pointed out that despite what it looked like, we had no proof they were the ones who had sprayed the Jeep.  For all we knew, the vehicle had gotten defaced much earlier in the evening and I had spotted a different group of kids who had sprayed something else.  Despite being convinced they were the culprits, I let it go.  Besides, I was also convinced that the parents would have stopped me anyway, and spray from their hose easily washed the shaving cream off.

Years later, I reused the mask (minus the bottle caps) in a Jekyll and Hyde transformation scene for a haunted house my brother and I set up.  I was not thrilled with the idea, as we already had a Frankenstein’s monster dummy set up using the mask I had retrieved from Connecticut, but it was the only extra mask we had at the time.  It also reappeared in several of my later Halloween displays as a face peering out of a window. Its glowing nature and light coloration always made it stand out and drew peoples’ eyes toward it.  During my first college semester, I brought it with me on Halloween as a gag.  A friend and I took turns wearing it to classes and sneaking up on students in the hallways.  I even wore it to my job at the school’s Humanities department.  The reactions of the professors and students who came in were always a hoot.  Despite the initial hesitation when I first got it, it has now become my most-used and most “historic” mask.