While it may not have been well-received by critics, I personally enjoyed Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of Halloween. I’m particularly fond of the scene where a long-haired and grown-up Michael Myers escapes Smith’s Grove Sanitarium wearing a simple yet disturbing papier-mâché pumpkin mask. I wanted one of my own.
Overall, I figured the build would be straightforward. But I would have to make some difficult decisions to try to capture the aesthetic of the film mask.
I started out with a plastic masquerade mask that you can find in any craft store. I trimmed the edges and cut the mask into three distinct pieces. Based on still photos from the film, the jaw was clearly meant to be a separate piece. I chose to cut a third piece to replicate a noticeable crack that runs on either side of the nose.
Papier-mâché sucks. I didn’t have much experience with it before. Had I, I might have chosen a thinner tissue paper instead of newspaper. The newspaper was surprisingly rigid, even when wet, and difficult to fold over the contours of the mask. I considered using orange colored masking tape, but opted for the newspaper in the interest of authenticity.
The stubborn newspaper covered up the teeth I had carved out of the mask. After it dried, I had to go back over the teeth with a knife and file to scrape off the excess paper material.
To prevent the mask from looking too clean and uniform in color, I applied only a singly light wash of orange acrylic paint. This allowed the patterns in the newspaper print to bleed out a bit. To capture the dirty and cracked aesthetic of the mask, I soaked the whole mask in a strong coffee bath. In reality, the coffee bath had little to no effect.
Finally, I applied a coat of clear gloss. I knew that I was compromising the rough appearance, but I wanted the mask to hold up to wear and tear.