Cult Film Finder: Finding the Cult Movies We All Enjoy

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon – 2006

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Language: English
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Directed by Scott Glosserman
Cast: Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Robert Englund, Zelda Rubinstein

Synopsis
A Documentary crew follows around serial killer, Leslie Vernon, as he starts to plan his ultimate reign of terror over the fictional town of Glen Echo.

DVD Release
Behind the Mask was originally released by Anchor Bay in 2007. The DVD is presented in 1.85:1 and looks pretty good for a low budget movie. There is a noticeable jump in quality when we go from documentary mode(Shot on DV) to horror movie mode towards the end of the film. Audio tracks include both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0 track. Anchor Bay has also released it on Blu-ray in 2009 albeit with no extras. If you’re looking for the best version, stick with the DVD.

Extras (DVD)

  • Audio Commentary with Actors Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Britain Spellings and Ben Pace
  • The Making of Behind the Mask
  • The Casting of Behind the Mask
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Trailers
  • Screenplay
  • Also on DVD

The audio commentary was done by Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Ben Pace, Britain Spellings. You can tell these guys became good friends during the making of the film. However, everybody seems to be talking at the same time so trying to understand everybody was a task. Overall the commentary was pretty good but probably would of worked better if Scott Glosserman was there to give his insight and keep the cast on subject during it.

The Making of BEHIND THE MASK is a 30 minute feature which consists of Scott Glosserman talking about different parts of the film. The making of also has behind the scenes of script rehearsals, deleted scenes, extended scenes, interviews and more. The feature also feels like a “how to be a filmmaker” feel to it, with Scott talking about some of the things he’s learned about being a director from the film. Overall it’s an interesting watch even though at times it seems pretty unorganized.

The Casting of BEHIND THE MASK is a 6 minute feature showing various casting auditions with Nathan Baesel and Angela Goethals. Casting auditions were never my thing, but should be interesting to fans of these two.

The deleted and extended scenes comes with the option to play them with or without Scott Glosserman commentary.

Deleted Scenes

  • The first deleted scene is the crew and Leslie around the breakfast table.
  • The 2nd deleted scene is the Walk-Run scene where Leslie says he can beat Taylor in a race.
  • The 3rd scene is the teen sex scene with the brunette girl that Leslie scouts out at the high school.
  • The 4th scene is the Groundhog scene with Eugene talking about his past.

Extended Scenes

  • Study Scene with Leslie talking more about his books
  • Fireside Chat interview with Leslie
  • High School Single Take
  • Ahab Definition with Eugene and Jaimie
  • Leslie’s Confession on the fabricated backstory
  • Preparation for the night

The Theatrical and Teaser Trailer are presented nicely. I much prefer the Teaser trailer as the main Theatrical Trailer makes it look way too much like a wannabe slasher.

The screenplay was included as a bonus on the DVD in .pdf format. You can tell the movie has several changes from the final film.

The additional movie trailers include Hatchet, Night of the Living Dorks, Hellboy:Blood and Iron and Masters of Horror: Right to Die

There is also an Easter Egg on the dvd. If you go to the Screenplay screen on the DVD menu and press right, a Leslie Vernon mask will light up. Selecting it will show a brief clip on how Leslie faked the head crushing scene.

Thoughts
Just judging this movie by the cover would be a sheer tragedy. What looks like a normal by the numbers slasher movie turns out being probably one of the most unique slashers in a long time. Part documentary and part parody, we follow Leslie Vernon as he breaks down traditional slasher movie rules and reasons why certain things always happen in a horror film. From the idea behind a surivor girl and her supporting cast to why cardio is very important for a slasher, every thing just seems to flow very well together.

Nathan Baesel as Leslie Vernon steals every scene he’s appears in. He initially comes off as a very likable person and as the movie progresses you see his demeanor change into the pyscho killer. He has certain hints of being totally nuts as he talks about the survivor girl and why he does the things he does. Overall, the movie is totally driven by Baesel and his mighty fine performance.

I really wish they would of used Eugene and Jaime more. I read somewhere that originally Eugene was suppose to be an older Billy from Black Christmas. They should tried to keep that link in there, it would of went nicely considering they set the movie to be in the same universe as the other horror franchises. The movie is full of references to a lot of horror movies. Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street being the main ones. We have guess appearances bye quite a few horror icons. Robert Englund plays Doc Halloran whose name is a nod to the Shining. Zelda Rubenstein of Poltergeist fame plays the librarian. As well as a brief cameo by Kane Hodder.

The movie switches gears towards the end when the film crew decide that they are going to help the teens. We go from a parody documentary film to a full blown slasher movie. While the slasher portion isn’t as strong as the documentary portion it moves along quickly enough for it not to be too irritating. I would liked to see how it would of came out if they would of kept it documentary style.

The sequel has been talked about since the release of the film. It’s now official, the sequel will be titled Before The Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon. Here’s hoping the movie actually gets made!

Conclusions
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is well worth any horror movie fans time. If you are a fan of smart slashers, I can’t recommend this enough. Quite possibly one of my favorite new horror movies that have been released in the 2000’s. Just make sure you get the DVD. It’s a shame the Blu-ray release was such a train wreck.

Rating

4 out of 5