Mask (Universal) (1985)

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Released 15-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 114:47
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Peter Bogdanovich

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Cher
Sam Elliott
Eric Stoltz
Richard Dysart
Harry Carey, Jr.
Laura Dern
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes, lots of bikers smoking, drug use too.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, film begins over opening credits.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Mask is another of those Hollywood stories which is "based on a true story". For a change, it doesn't matter how much fact or how much fiction there is in this presentation, as the story will draw you in anyway. It has a nice cast of flawed characters, dealing with some classic problems of urban life; adolescence, drug use, broken relationships and prostitution to name a few.

    The story revolves around Rocky Dennis, superbly played by Eric Stoltz. Rocky suffers from a rare bone disease by which too much calcium is deposited in his cranial bones, leaving his skull (and therefore his face) badly deformed. His mother Rusty is separated (or divorced) from her husband - on seeing Rocky for the first time, one of her boyfriends exclaims "Jesus, who's that?". The disease is also known as "Lionitis" and brings back memories of "The Elephant Man". The make-up for the film deservedly won an Oscar.

    During the early part of the movie we follow Rocky as he moves to a new high school and struggles to try and lead a normal life, which can be difficult enough for any teenager, without having to worry about major health problems, let alone the ridicule and fear of almost everyone he meets. On top of this, his mother Rusty (nicely played by Cher) is a drug addict who has trouble developing lasting relationships with her boyfriends. When Rocky complains about his loneliness and inability to find a girlfriend who can see past his deformity, her answer is to find him a prostitute. Cher won the Best Actress award at the Cannes film festival for her performance.

    The film also features a nice supporting cast, including Sam Elliott, a young and luminous Laura Dern, and veteran actor Harry Carey Jr (a star in many John Wayne movies). In their varying relationships with Rocky, each of them quietly demonstrates that it is what is inside that really matters. The message is reinforced (but not overly forced) with Rusty's circle of friends, who are all Harley riding bikers. The story moves to a bittersweet conclusion that should have even the cynics in the audience thinking about reaching for the tissues.

    The film is nicely directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who manages to maintain the sentiment without erring on the side of sentimentality. The film was well received on its initial release and still packs quite a punch today. If you watch this movie and don't identify with Rocky, then like the tin man in The Wizard of Oz, I'd start singing "If I Only Had a Heart".

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Transfer Quality


    I'm starting to get a feeling of deja vu as far as video transfers go. Once again I find myself watching a transfer which is acceptable, but not as good as a DVD could, and should, be. A pattern seems to be developing whereby any film which is more than a couple of years old, and not an arbitrarily defined "classic in need of restoration", is presented on DVD from whatever original the studio was able to lay its hands on.

    The aspect ratio of this presentation is 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced which is close to the correct theatrical release ratio of 1.85:1.

    The picture is reasonably sharp, with good shadow detail and only a little low level noise. Some of the outside scenes are a little harsh (see 11:21 for an example). Some of the low-light scenes compensate by displaying nice resolution.

    Colours are muted at times, but flesh tones are nicely rendered and the indoor scenes show a good range. While the transfer is not as vibrant as that on most modern films it is still quite satisfactory.

    Some minor artefacts are present. At times there is some minor pixelization, and an occasional negative (see 34:23) or positive (see 38:30) artefact. While they are relatively infrequent, the occasional negative artefacts are particularly noticeable against the dark backgrounds which occur frequently during the film. There is also some noticeable telecine wobble during the closing credits.

    The subtitles are a bit less accurate to the spoken word than usual. As an example, the line "What methods are those?" becomes "What methods?". They are also presented in an unusual typeface, which I can only describe as "robotic", and which would not be out of place during the credits of a B-grade sci-fi movie.

    The disc is dual-layered with a layer change taking place at 59:54. While it is short, it is a little disruptive as it is in the middle of some dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio is a good match for the video - effective without being particularly notable.

    There are a lot of audio tracks on this DVD (5 to be precise) and I listened to the English Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono) and part of the Spanish 2.0 track.

    The dialogue was clear at all times, with good audio sync. There was very little hiss. The actors on the Spanish track I listened to generally sounded a lot older than the on-screen characters they were meant to represent. Rocky in particular sounded more like he was in his forties than in his teens.

    No music was credited for this film. The background music is all meant to be ambient, mostly from radios or record players. You should recognize many of the songs which include popular numbers from artists such as Bob Seger, Suzi Quatro, Steppenwolf, The Beatles and Little Richard.

    Being a mono soundtrack there was no surround activity, even when the amplifier was switched to Pro-Logic DSP mode. The subwoofer saw some minor bass activity during the songs, but little else.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Say this with me, there are no extras.


    The menu is animated with music and is 16x9 enhanced. The scene selection menu is also animated and you have 20 scenes to choose from. That's all. Once again, there are no extras.

Theatrical Trailer

    Did I mention that there are no extras?

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on:

    The Region 4 version is preferred on the basis of the 16x9 enhancement and the PAL picture.


    This is a moving (in the emotional sense) picture.

    The picture is average.

    So is the sound.

    One last time, there are no ...

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Robert Davison (read my bio)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K350, using Component output
DisplaySONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderKenwood.

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background songs in the 1985 mask soundtrack -