But that doesn't mean I don't have another show in mind when I think "creepy Halloween episode from an awesome 90's cartoon in the superhero genre". And today, I am going to revisit a green-faced old friend of mine. The Mask! Because I found out that not enough sites talk about this show (even 90's nostalgia fans seem oblivious to this show, meaning they're not doing their jobs) and I can't abide it going unnoticed.
|Masks are Halloween related, right? This counts!|
The reason I chose this episode instead is because of several different reasons. The first reason is that All Hallow's Eve is a sequel to this episode, and the second reason is that, in my mind, this fits the mood and tone of Halloween better than the sequel ever did. The Mask's Halloween special is the side of Halloween that everybody loves, the one filled with costumes and candy. This episode deals with the more sinister side of Halloween, the fact that there are creatures lurking in the shadows, boogeymen that won't think twice about stealing your soul just for a cheap thrill.
Now, if you remember my last post about this show (which dealt with "Convention of Evil", the first episode I myself ever watched of this show), the villains were pretty amicable fellows who loved to hang out and swap stories about The Mask while drinking cups of coffee and talking about how nice the weather was. Even Satan and the horrifying bug mutant were friendly. A lot of them felt like, if they weren't criminally insane and found total city domination to be a great career move, they'd be your bestest pals.
Skillit? He's not friendly. He's the opposite of friendly. Skillit's the kind of villain that the other villains stay away from, just because he's the guy in every group that finds human suffering to be gutroaringly hilarious. He's seen civilizations fall, wars kill countless numbers of people, and horrible atrocities wreaked upon mankind, and he enjoyed every minute of it. I'd like to imagine if, say, The Stinger or Kablamus had caller ID and saw Skillit's name pop up on their cellphone, they'd chuck the phone in the fireplace and hide under the couch for several weeks.
But I'm hyping this up a bit too much, especially when I know a good number of you probably scroll right past my intros. I should probably stop flapping my gums and dive right into the scary, mentally-scarring horrorfest that is charmingly named...
Availability: Online Only
Before I get myself totally immersed into this episode, I just want to point out the font used for the title. Notice how it's the same font you used to write your high school papers? Really observant Mask fans can immediately tell if an episode is from the first season or the later two seasons just by this informative green font that only lingers for a couple seconds. And, since the font for today's episode is completely lazy (compare it with the last episode I did) and not in the same font style of the show's title, this is a Season 1 episode. I probably should've covered a Season 1 episode first before a Season 2 episode, but if you're saying that, shut up, you're not writing this blog.
Anyways, onto the episode, where things kick off by showing a man wearing a cowboy hat wandering through a dark alleyway while pushing a hot dog cart. I'm not sure why a cattle wrangler is selling processed wieners, but from the looks of it, he's totally oblivious to the fact that most alleyways in the big city contain supervillains, muggers, and just all-around not nice people.
But don't worry, he learns his lesson pretty quickly when a ghastly shadow being manifests itself on a wall next to him, leaps onto him, absorbs itself into his body, causes him huge physical anguish, and then sucks away his shadow.
...okay, point goes to The Mask. My interest is instantly piqued. I can't think of any other show that would open by dealing such grievous harm to a cowpoke.
|Cowboys are a very vulnerable demographic in inner city neighborhoods.|
|Tears of a cattle wrangler.|
And yes, it turns out that shadow thefts are indeed on the rise, and the paper blames "the sinister shadow snatchers of Saturn", because alliteration sells more copies. I bet some vampire is reading this and feeling all good inside that this widespread surge of crime doesn't affect them in any way.
|I love the passive-aggressive name on that newspaper.|
He basically represents middle America, the average joe who has a crappy job but wishes just once that he could be a green-headed buffoon that stays up all night in dance clubs and makes out with complete strangers. He also has the best damn pair of pajamas that have ever existed in the world of cartoons. They don't make an appearance in this episode, but I just felt like letting you know.
|"Sir, this is a bank. I don't know how to fix your computer!"|
Oh, and even though this episode has nothing to do with the Jim Carrey film (I try to avoid bringing up the film since the cartoon is a completely separate entity), I need to point this little thing out. Peggy was actually a bad guy in the movie, and actually got killed in a deleted scene. For some reason, here, she's one of Stanley's bestest buds even though technically she's not even supposed to be alive. But then again, considering how Beetlejuice was a good guy in HIS cartoon, I can cut Pegsters a little slack.
|"Hey, TMNT? Are you aware of the term "legally distinguishable"? |
So you can't take me to court for copyright infringement!"
Stanley reacts with skepticism, because he can't take her job at all seriously even though he works at a freaking bank, but then another one of his exploitative friends walks in. This sad sack of shadowless sadness is Charlie. Charlie is a jerk that likes chicks...aaand that's really all you need to know about him. Sadly, next to Peggy, he's Stanley's best friend. I say "sadly" because there are some episodes where Charlie reeeally screws Stanley over. He's the kind of friend that will only show up to your parties if there's free beer and chips, and then when he's gone, you find that several of your DVDs are missing. Charlie's shadow may be gone, but he so does not deserve your sympathy.
|If I was wearing a tie that horrible, I'd be bummed out too.|
Luckily, the writers realize how shallow Charlie is and then make him go on about how soon, with the shadow thefts and all that, the shadowless look will soon be "in". Charlie's a trendsetter, after all, even if he does look like he'd appear under the dictionary definition of "douchebag".
|Charlie's Scumbag Sense is so acute that he can sniff out females like a bloodhound.|
Also, you can tell that this is a cartoon because these two are walking through a city park in the middle of the night without any fear of muggers or serial killers.
They talk, have some friendly banter, the topic of The Mask comes up, the cartoon continues its merry attempt at drumming up suspense, but then, the most exciting plot twist ever occurs. Stanley and April O'Peggy can't continue their conversation because...his dog is hungry. Horror upon horrors!
It's basically an excuse to get one of them alone, because after hearing about amorphous blobs stealing shadows, the viewers want to see it happen again. So far the cartoon is doing the equivalent of nonchalantly whistling and pretending like something isn't going to happen.
|"Gee, Milo. I sure hope my shadow doesn't get stolen. It would sure be inconvenient if my shadow was |
stolen. My shadow is incredibly important to me, and I don't know what I'd do if it was gone!"
|Oh no, the cartoon is turning into a music video!|
I believe we learned a valuable lesson today. Mess with a man's shadow and you're going to kiss pavement because he will hunt you down. And, just because I don't want anyone to be looking out for either catchphrase, this is the rare episode where The Mask doesn't utter either "Ssssmokin'!" or "Somebody stop me!". I blame the lack of a shadow.
|Annie, are you okay? So, Annie are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?|
|Made out of 90% recycled parts.|
|"Submitted for your approval, a man without a shadow."|
But then The Mask bribes her with paper money so that she doesn't say anything about his presence so it's all good.
...you know what? Let's never talk about this scene ever again. The girl never existed. Otherwise my brain's going to short-circuit.
|I can't even figure out what's going on...|
...The Mask is stuffed in a bag made out of shadows. A physical object made out of the absence of light. Somewhere, the laws of physics are crying.
Also, geez, talk about anti-climatic. I guess shadows are powerful forces of nature or something.
|You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch....|
...okay, this is one of the many reasons why this show needs to be on DVD. So I can actually read signs like this. This will probably bug me later, when I'm trying to go to sleep and all my mind can think about is that unimportant sign and how I can't read it.
|What does that sign say!? Auuuugh!|
Also, thanks for doing your job, Mask. You can eat nuclear warheads, breathe in space, and swim in acid (not making any of these up) and yet a simple burlap sack overpowers you. If this is The Mask's kryptonite, then won't those other villains feel silly about their wasted attempts at destroying him.
Finally, after all of this nonsense, we meet Skillit, the owner of the shadow. He's a pretty accurate representation of the fey folk in a cartoon, especially after Disney portrayed them to be such delightful little scamps that can make you fly if they sprinkle fairy dust on you. Skillit may look like a cross between Peter Pan, the Bride of Frankenstein, and a Warcraft Troll, but rest assured, he doesn't care about you. He's the kind of fairy that will turn you into a tree just out of sheer spite. And that's not even going into what he'll do to you if you make fun of the highlights in his hair or his whimsical elf boots.
I will say this. That cloak behind him, I thought was a pair of wings the first time I saw this episode. Now I'm really disappointed that they're not, because even though he floats around using the power of magic and sheer evil, tattered leafy-looking wings would somehow complete the look.
|The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Shadowsnatcher|
|No captions neccessary. This really says it all.|
I like how The Mask is able to actually attach his own shadow to him in a subtle allusion to Peter Pan. Because he's The Mask. Yeah, go to hell, natural laws!
|"Way to get my shadow wrinkled, kid! This thing's dry clean only!"|
|I think my brain just tried to vomit.|
|Hey, Skillit IS that tall if you count the hair...|
|It's Hades Jr.!|
|"Oh, thanks, mystical artifact from a Norse god! You just killed my dog!"|
And yes, Skillit actually said this last part. He levitates Stanley's dog with his powers and said that he could be smelling scorched fur right now, but isn't because Skillit's being nice. For a little kid with Super Saiyan hair, this character manages to emasculate the entire cast of Darkwing Duck with every line of dialogue. Negaduck wishes he possessed even a small ounce of Skillit's abilities.
|Puck is such an asshole nowadays.|
For those keeping track, Skillit is a four thousand year old fairy folk who's palled around with murderous pirates and conquerors because death is fun. He has no rhyme or reason to the horrendous acts he performs other than they give him a sick thrill. And the only reason Stanley's still alive is because Evil Puck is feeling generous today. Bring me my brown pants.
|All the old paintings on the tomb |
They do the sand dance, don'cha know?
...also, why didn't this get more of a reaction from her? I guess hanging around with a green-faced shapeshifter that fights a man who sounds like Tim Curry would desensitize anyone.
|The second star to the right|
Shines in the night for you
To tell you that the dreams you plan
Really can come true
I find it kind of funny that I find a murderous elfin creature to be more unnerving and terrifying than the Satan on this show. Probably because, when you get right down to it, Satan's just doing his job, and in Convention of Evil, he was surprisingly courteous. Skillit goes against the natural order of things. And finds it hilarious. If he was in Convention of Evil, I'm pretty sure that episode would end with a room full of dead bodies.
...oh geez, what if he's not the only one of his species? How many of his race are out there, floating around and stealing people's shadows? ...if anyone needs me, I'll be under my bed for the next ten years.
|Look at that face. He finds that man's screams amusing.|
Skillit's reaction? He shouts "Tell it to the sidewalk" and drops Stanley.
...well. That was short and to the point, Mr. Skillit. Thanks for killing the main character so effortlessly. Can you please cease to exist now before I have to see a psychiatrist for viewing this episode?
|Wile E. Coyote the bank teller.|
I love how his solution for not killing Stanley is to stick him on a flagpole that's seven stories high in the air, just so Stanley realizes just how close he was to turning into a sidewalk pancake. Holding onto a flagpole is one of those things that is constantly portrayed as simple in cartoons but is really harder than it looks.
|"Please don't kill me, scary demonchild."|
...and how old are those clothes? Imagine the smell.
|I wish the Shadow Temple's Hover Boots were that effective.|
By the way, Stanley doesn't help by saying "Charlie, you're old." Stanley, you're stating the obvious!
|That apartment isn't doing you any favors, Charlie.|
Anyways, his asshole friends are dying. You know what that means. Time to suit up and get ready for our final battle between green-faced man that sounds like Raphael from TMNT and that bizarre floating Link. This should be fun. But mostly disturbing because man, that Skillit kid just rubs me the wrong way. I blame the tights.
And, since I have to point this out, when Stanley turns into The Mask there's a very odd audio glitch in this scene. The Mask spins around and then instantly stops to talk about how it's taboo to hurt little dogs, but while he's talking, the spinning sound effect still plays, covering up most of the dialogue. Hah hah, silly editors, thinking no one would notice. Little did they know, there are people on the Internet nitpicking every single part of an animation no matter how silly it is.
|Only The Mask would make a banana-colored suit look dignified.|
Wow. Wow. Skillit personally targeted all of Stanley's friends just because he hates how nice he is, planning for an inevitable showdown. He's personally sucking out all the life of his friends due to a personal slight. That's hardcore.
|What's not hardcore: That sitting position while floating. That's just weird.|
"Let's come to the Shadowland instead! Come on, we'll boil Shadowlanders denizens in oil, flay their skins from their bodies, split their spines like boiled lobsters!"
...yeah, I'm going to need a moment to let that sink in. The tone of his voice made it that much worse. He's like an Internet Creepypasta brought to life.
|So how would Skillit know what splitting a spine is comparable to...oh geez.|
This leads to one pissed off fairy boy, one that can shoot lasers from his fingers and command his shadow to attack at will. Looks like our episodic battle is upon us! I wonder if it will involve shadows in any way, since that is this episode's theme and all that jazz.
|I'm now really disappointed that that laser isn't made out of shadows.|
|Okay, what. Why did they feel the need to put this in.|
Course, this time The Mask says yes. Of COURSE he'll go to Shadowland with the little blueberry freak and do unspeakable things to random strangers. IF he hands over the shadows.
...I see what you did there, Mask.
|"Does this look like a face that would lie to you?"|
And how did the shadows know where to go? They're merely an area of relative darkness cast by both a light source and an object intercepting that light. It'd be kind of embarrassing if Charlie ended up with Peggy's shadow on accident.
|"This is a warning to all living mortals that whom should ever open this chest of demons |
will release thirteen of the most terrifying ghosts upon the face of the earth."
|I like how Stanley in that picture looks embarrassed to be near Charlie.|
...and how does one wring out a shadow? I know it's supernatural, but I'm still kind of curious as to how a pure shadow would feel like.
So, by somehow by using brute force on a fairy that possesses cosmic powers, after The Mask steals his shadow, The Mask and Milo keep Skillit from going back to Shadowland, Skillit loses his shadow and his powers, and now Skillit's a mortal. He even gets to go to school and age and die just like the rest of us! Huzzah! Take that, frightening kidmonster!
...well now, wait a second, that seems kind of cruel. I know he was happily talking about boiling people in oil, but come on, giving him the gift of dying? That's just mean. How long does he even get to live anyways?
|I sure the school is going to love the weird murderous kid with the blue skin and elf ears.|
Ooooh, so that's what the playground was for! That gate led to a school! I feel enlightened now. Thank you, cartoon.
...and why would a school be open right when the sun rises? That seems kind of early for elementary school.
...wait, is this supposed to be a happy ending? A creature that's four thousand years old is now going to grow old and die for its crimes against humanity, and not only that, but it's been thrust into a society that it does not know or understand, in a world where children without parents end up in foster homes. That can't be good for anyone.
The Moral of this Cartoon
Take good care of your shadow, because it's more important than you would believe. In reality, that pool of intercepted light cast on surfaces is really what's keeping you from rapidly aging.
This is still a great show and everyone should watch it...buuuut this might not be the best episode in the show.
Compared to the previous one I did, this episode is more straightforward. There's a conflict, the conflict never changes, and the conflict gets solved. It's pretty cut and dry.
I think what floors me about this episode in particular is how dark it got while still maintaining a level of comedy. People are rapidly aging, a teleporting elflike being finds pain to be hilarious, and the threat of death is pretty real, but they still found a way to work in some jokes. One topic of conversation I've seen come up in cartoon blogs is how far you can go with the villains while still keeping it a comedy aimed for all-audiences. Can the audience still laugh even when the villain is talking about splitting spines open, or is that crossing the line? I feel they found a happy medium with this, because Skillit manages to be dark while having a child-like playful nature to him.
There are some parts of this episode that I don't like, but it mostly chalks up to personal preference. Skillit is not my favorite The Mask character, but mostly because, when it comes to this show, I like The Mask the best when he's dealing with normal people who turned to crime. I don't know, it's just funnier when normal people react to The Mask's shenanigans. Skillit is just too otherworldly, and he works in that regard, but I'm not going to hunt down Skillit episodes. He lacks that something that compels me to keep watching him.
Plus, personally, I feel like they did a better job nailing the theme of The Mask facing a really old, powerful being with magic far greater than his in "Boogie With The Man", the episode where he squares off with Satan. But then again, that's a Season 2 episode and this is one of the first episodes. The fact that the writer got tighter and better as the show went on is definitely a good sign.
But yeah, great episode despite this. The Mask is once again funny, and I love how Stanley's friends have such negative traits but manage to be fun characters. Skillit manages to be scary without being in-your-face scary. Good episode from a fantastic show. Not one of my favorites, but then again, I think it just clocks up to the fact that my favorite episodes tend to have villains I look forward to.
Just...did we need that lobster line, Skillit?
Also, thanks to this post, "shadow" now looks misspelled. Shadow shadow shadow shadow sonic shadow.