did the ghostface costume exist before scream

Did the 'Ghostface' Mask Predate 'Scream'?

Ghostface, meet peanut-eyed ghost., published jan 21, 2022.

True

About this rating

Before it became known as the "ghostface" mask from the 1996 movie "Scream," this iconic piece of movie memorabilia was a mass produced novelty costume item called a "peanut-eyed ghost" mask.

In the "Scream" movie franchise, characters are terrorized by a variety of killers who all hide behind the same spooky "ghostface" mask. While this stark white, wide-eyed, open-mouthed mask has become synonymous with the movie franchise ever since the original "Scream" was released in 1996, this iconic piece of movie memorabilia actually predates the franchise.

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

The Peanut-Eyed Ghost

Before "Scream," this mask was known as the "peanut-face ghost mask." It was designed by Brigitte Sleiertin, and produced in a variety of colors by the costume shop Fun World as part of its "Fantastic Faces" series.

The Hollywood Reporter noted:

Created by New York-based novelty company Fun World in 1991, the Ghostface mask was first conceived as a Halloween costume. It was mass-produced for years as part of a “Fantastic Faces” pack, but it wasn’t until 1996, when the mask was licensed for use in Scream, that it became one of the world’s most recognizable horror symbols.

Edvard Munch's The Scream?

While most people may be reminded of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" painting when looking at the peanut-eyed ghost mask, Sleiertin said that her inspiration came more from the black-and-white ghosts of old cartoons from the 1930s. Sleiertin said:

"I was tasked with designing ghostly faces to be made as masks and to do some drawings with a similar look and feel. So I did a bunch of sketches of different white, ghostly faces with simplistic black facial-feature shapes... As an animation junkie, I loved the old Max Fleischer cartoons, and Betty Boop was one of my faves. Those faces were mostly inspired by the ghosts from some of those old 1930s black-and-white cartoons.”

A Creepy Discovery

This costume mask was brought to the attention of director Wes Craven after it was discovered by producer Marianne Maddalena while she was scouting an abandoned house as a possible filming location for the movie "Scream." Craven was hoping to use the mask in the film, but wasn't able to secure a deal with Fun World. So, Craven and his team attempted to develop a few alternative masks that were loosely based on the peanut-eyed ghost mask.

These masks didn't quite hit the mark. But the team was able to work something out with Fun World and use the iconic mask in the movie. Screenwriter Kevin Williamson discussed the origins of the ghostface mask during a special produced for the original "Scream" movie's 25th anniversary.

Williamson said :

“No one could agree on a mask, and I remember we were on a location scout and we found Ghostface… in a box of stuff in a garage. We asked the owner if we could take it because Wes immediately looked at it and said, ‘This is like the famous Scream painting.’ So we took that to our production and we said, ‘Can you make something… riff on this and see if you can make something like this. They must’ve done twenty different designs, and every one of them was rejected by the studio.”

Fletcher, Rosie. “This Is How the Iconic Scream Mask Nearly Looked, and It’s Pretty Freaky.” Digital Spy, 22 Dec. 2016, https://www.digitalspy.com/movies/a817554/what-scream-iconic-mask-nearly-looked-like/.

McDermott, Emmet. “MTV’s Terrifying Mistake? Wes Craven Explains Why the Original ‘Scream’ Mask Is Too ‘Perfect’ to Scrap.” The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Apr. 2015, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/wes-cravens-last-interview-horror-788393/.

Scream 25th Anniversary - Exclusive “The Story Behind the Ghostface Mask” Clip (Neve Campbell). www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWgGsdmPE5o. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

Squires, John. “The Original Ghostface Mask Designs That Would’ve Completely Changed the ‘Scream’ Franchise [Images].” Bloody Disgusting!, 12 Jan. 2022, https://bloody-disgusting.com/movie/3698926/original-ghostface-mask-designs-wouldve-completely-changed-scream-franchise-images/.

“What Is the Spooky Real Life Origin of Scream’s Ghostface Mask?” HuffPost, 30 June 2015, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-is-the-spooky-real-l_b_7686112.

“What People Are Saying about New ‘Scream’ Movie with Alabama’s Courteney Cox.” Al, 19 Jan. 2022, https://www.al.com/life/2022/01/what-people-are-saying-about-new-scream-movie-with-alabamas-courteney-cox.html.

By Dan Evon

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

Article Tags

We Finally Know The Origin Of The Ghostface Mask In Scream

Ghostface in a school

When "Scream" first tore its way into theaters back in 1996, it instantly immortalized Ghostface in pop culture, and the villain became a modern horror icon. He stands next to the likes of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees as a mask-wearing psychopath (or psychopaths, as the case may be) who isn't afraid to brutalize his victims. His popularity largely comes down to the simplicity of the outfit, which is made up of the white face mask and a black cloak. And of course it lends itself to the central mystery in the "Scream" series, because it's an outfit which completely hides the killer's identity. 

The costume itself creates a legacy throughout the franchise, as several killers all don the Ghostface identity to hunt Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) for one reason or another. It all starts when Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) decides to dismantle Sidney's family, because her mother has an affair with Mr. Loomis — ultimately driving Billy's mother away. He plans his killing spree with Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) and the pair use their horror obsession to create an iconic costume which would mask their faces as well as striking sheer terror in their victims.

In real life, though, where did the Ghostface mask come from? It is very similar to the painting by famed artist Edvard Munch's "The Scream," obviously — but ultimately Wes Craven found it when he was working on pre-production for the 1996 movie.

They got the rights for the mask

Because the mask is such an important visual in "Scream" there was obviously a lot of pressure during pre-production to get the right look for Billy and Stu. And in a recent IGN featurette which celebrates the film's 25th anniversary, screenwriter Kevin Williamson revealed that the crew stumbled onto the mask when they were looking at filming locations. "No one could agree on a mask and I remember we were in a location scout, and we found Ghostface ... in a box of stuff in a garage ..." he said.

The writer went on to say that director Wes Craven spotted the mask's similarity to Munch's iconic painting, saying that he "immediately looked at it and said, 'This is like the famous Scream painting.' And so we took that to our production and we said, 'Riff on this... make something like this.'" Although that didn't solve the problem straight away, because the studio kept rejecting the numerous designs that were similar to the iconic mask. "They must've done 20 different designs. Every one of them was rejected by the studio."

But the team finally settled on a brilliant solution, "and finally we were like, why don't we just get the rights to this mask?" So the original Ghostface mask was easily marketable because it was already an established mask, and it added a real-world level of terror since it's something that teenagers can easily get hold of. 

Hopefully the mask is still just as scary when the fifth "Scream" film arrives in theaters on January 14, 2022.

What's Hot

The real secret origin of scream's ghostface mask.

Brian Cronin

Writer and founder of legendsrevealed.com

A while back, I told the amazing story of how the famous “Ghostface” mask was discovered for the movie Scream .

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

Among the people who read that initial article was a man named Loren Gitthens, who had a fascinating story to tell about the Ghostface mask that I figured it would be worth running as an addendum to that original piece. Here’s Loren:

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

The face design was inspired loosely by a mask I made in 1985 that I had called “Screamer Long Jaw.”

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

Thanks for the story, Loren!

I don’t think that this is ever going to be something that I can classify as “True” or “False,” but I thought it was still worth sharing. So I leave it to you folks to decide what you think about this one.

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of films. Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is [email protected].

Support HuffPost

The stakes have never been higher.

At HuffPost, we believe that everyone needs high-quality journalism, but we understand that not everyone can afford to pay for expensive news subscriptions. That is why we are committed to providing deeply reported, carefully fact-checked news that is freely accessible to everyone.

Our News, Politics and Culture teams invest time and care working on hard-hitting investigations and researched analyses, along with quick but robust daily takes. Our Life, Health and Shopping desks provide you with well-researched, expert-vetted information you need to live your best life, while HuffPost Personal, Voices and Opinion center real stories from real people.

Help keep news free for everyone by giving us as little as $1. Your contribution will go a long way.

As the 2024 presidential race heats up, the very foundations of our democracy are at stake. A vibrant democracy is impossible without well-informed citizens. This is why HuffPost's journalism is free for everyone, not just those who can afford expensive paywalls.

We cannot do this without your help. Support our newsroom by contributing as little as $1 a month.

As the 2024 presidential race heats up, the very foundations of our democracy are at stake. At HuffPost, we believe that a vibrant democracy is impossible without well-informed citizens. This is why we keep our journalism free for everyone, even as most other newsrooms have retreated behind expensive paywalls.

Our newsroom continues to bring you hard-hitting investigations, well-researched analysis and timely takes on one of the most consequential elections in recent history. Reporting on the current political climate is a responsibility we do not take lightly — and we need your help.

Support our newsroom by contributing as little as $1 a month.

Brian Cronin - Writer and founder of legendsrevealed.com

Brian Cronin, Contributor

Do you have info to share with HuffPost reporters? Here’s how.

Popular in the Community

From our partner, gift guides, more in contributor.

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

iHorror

How the Ghostface Costume Fortuitously Ended Up in ‘Scream’

Scream

Wes Craven’s Scream defined horror and general pop culture in the 90s. The meta take on the genre was a brilliant strike of very specific lighting in a very specific bottle. Everything from its characters to its kills were entirely memorable and transformed the landscape of film at the time. It’s a perfect reinvention of the slasher genre. But, much like Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street having his razor-fingered glove or Hellraiser’s Hell Priest having a head full of pins, every horror film worth its salt has a memorable look to their big bad villain. Scream of course ended up having the striking cutout of a murderous profile we now known as Ghostface.

However, Ghostface as we know him almost didn’t exist. In fact the involvement of that specific costume was a nice series of kismet events.

Screenwriter, Kevin Williamson did have a vague description of the killer in the script that was checked off as “ghost mask killer” or something there about. Luckily producer, Marianne Maddalena had found the Ghostface mask randomly while scouting locations.

Scream

Maddalena took the mask to Craven and the director was instantly struck with the it. Naturally, he wanted the mask in the film. Like most things in life there was a catch. The mask was property of Fun World Costume Company and magically designed by the very talented Brigitte Sleiertin. When Fun World found out that an actual Hollywoood studio wanted to use the mask in their film, the company asked for an outrageous deal. So outrageous in fact that Craven and team decided to make their own variation of the Fun World mask.

KNB worked on their own version of the ghost mask. However, when Fun World found out that Craven was going to do it without them, they dropped their outrageous requests and agreed to allow their mask for use in the film. An official licensing deal was created. Scream blew up in theaters and that following Halloween everyone and their cat wanted to dress up as Ghostface. Fun World actually manged to clean up and cash out due to the massive popularity.

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

It is crazy to think of a world and a Scream without the look of Ghostface. The villain certainly knows how to cut a silhouette and how to make an entrance. The addition of Roger L. Jackson’s Ghostface voice completed the package of a perfect horror villain and the rest is horror history.

Much like the discovery of William Shatner’s mask found at a drugstore during the filming of Halloween , some events are just destined to happen.

The fifth entry into the Scream franchise slashes into theaters beginning January 14.

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

You may like

Neve Campbell

New Twists in ‘Scream 7’: A Creative Shift Amid Star Exits and Potential Iconic Returns

Jenna Ortega Scream VII

Jenna Ortega Drops Out of ‘Scream VII’

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

‘Scream 7’ Director Christopher Landon Responds to Barrera‘s Firing: “Stop Yelling”

Original Valak Wasn’t a Nun But this Unused Animated “Winged Demon”

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

In 2016, we were introduced to Valak , the terrifying Nun who tortured the Warrens in James Wan’s The Conjuring 2 . Since then, the sinister sister has spawned two of her own movies, the last one being released in November of 2023.

But, did you know director James Wan had a different vision of Valak in mind , and it wasn’t a sharp-toothed abbess? According to Wan, he created a winged demon for the part, even had it made, but it was never used on film.

In a past social media post, the Aquaman 2 director said his initial monster was:

“A beautifully/hideously sculpted animatronic puppet head and practical body-suit by the super talented  @justin.raleigh  (whom I’ve worked with on pretty much all my movies since Insidious 1) and his team  @fracturedfxinc worn by  @j_bishara .”

He goes on to say that he finished one full CGI shot with wings before re-evaluating the ghoul.

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

“It was really grand and epic,” he says in the post, “But as cool as it was, it felt out of place within the Conjuring world we had built. And so during post production, I reconceived the villain — feeling it needed to be something more grounded, more personal, and creepier. And thus the demonic Nun was born. “

Even though some scenes were already done, Wan says that the Valak as we know her now had to be rendered into the final product. “All the nun stuff was shot during additional photography, including coming up with new scare set-pieces like the “painting on the wall”, and used visual effects to put the new villain into existing scenes. ” Tell us what you think. Do you like the Nun as she is today or the winged demon concept Wan originally thought of?

@ihorror The original VALAK in The Conjuring 2 was going to be this winged demon. Read the article up now on iHorror.com #horror #horrormovie #horrorfan ♬ Evil Beauty – Fate

Conjuring TV Series Will, “Continue the Story Established in the Feature Films”

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

It seems like forever ago that the writer’s and actors’ strikes started. Movies and shows that were announced before May 2023 got us excited for the future. But once Hollywood shut down these projects were put on the back burner.

Thankfully Hollywood re-opened in September and it seemed like everything, although delayed, was back on track. We wanted to revisit the news about a Conjuring TV show that was announced back in April of 2023.

This news came out about the time Max became HBO Max , also enveloping the Warner Bros.-owned Discovery+’s catalog of shows. During a press conference, the studio said it was developing a Harry Potter series and a Game of Thrones prequel. They also announced that a series was being produced which furthered the world of The Conjuring .

A Max representative said at the time the show will, “continue the story established in the feature films.” There have been eight stories so far in that realm each with varying degrees of criticism. The next feature film called The Conjuring: Last Rites was also a development casualty during the strikes, but it seems to have righted itself afterward and is currently in pre-production.

Would anyone still like to see a Conjuring series? Or has time taken its toll and interest in the project weakened?

There is no word yet on whether the series will become a post-strike reality or not.

Todd McFarlane’s New ‘Spawn’ Movie: An Independent Venture if Necessary

Spawn

Todd McFarlane has provided an update concerning a new “Spawn” movie being made. McFarlane has made it clear that if Blumhouse Productions does not commence production this year as promised, he is prepared to take the project elsewhere. This bold statement underscores McFarlane’s unwavering commitment to bringing the iconic character back to the big screen, highlighting his readiness to explore independent avenues for the movie’s realization.

McFarlane expressed confidence in Blumhouse, particularly in Jason Blum, whom he described as ‘one of the better ones at getting things done’ . However, he also conveyed a sense of urgency and determination, indicating his readiness to take matters into his own hands if necessary. ‘2024 is gonna be my make or break year, right? Either I’m going to give Hollywood the best chance I can to do it, and if not, I’ve got plenty of outside investors waiting. So, I’m trying to see if we can make the right deal within the norm of the Hollywood structure. If not, there have been plenty of examples, actually a couple of big ones last year, where people went outside the normal channel and succeeded. And people have done this before with independent movies; you make your movie and you just find a distributor.’

He added, ‘They tell me I get to read the script this month. The email is going out this week to remind them that they promised me that. Something’s gotta happen. Something’s gonna happen. I just know myself, something’s gonna happen because if I can’t figure it out inside [the Hollywood system], I’ll figure it out [independently]. But hopefully, we can figure out a deal that keeps all the parties that have been involved over the years involved.’ These statements emphasize his readiness to pursue an independent path for the movie’s production if progress within the Hollywood system stalls further.

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

The screenplay for the “Spawn” movie has attracted notable talent, including Scott Silver, Malcolm Spellman, and Matthew Mixon. Despite setbacks, including industry-wide strikes, McFarlane remains optimistic about a potential release in 2025. This optimism was echoed by Jason Blum in an earlier interview with ComicBook.com, “we’ve got a great group of folks putting it together, and my hope is that that movie — my prediction is maybe we’ll actually see a Spawn movie in 2025. No promises, but that’s my prediction.”

It was recently announced that Blumhouse has officially merged with Atomic Monster . Jason Blum mentioned his desire to release at least eight horror movies in theaters each year. Given that lofty goal, it seems likely that a new ‘Spawn’ movie could be headed our way sooner rather than later.

“Spawn” holds a special place in the realm of comic books, being the most successful independent comic ever published. Its previous adaptation in 1997, starring Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo, has left fans yearning for a reboot that does justice to the beloved character. Michael Jai White, reflecting on the reboot, expressed his openness to making a cameo, acknowledging the character’s enduring legacy and the fans’ loyalty. “I haven’t spoken…I feel like Todd has been talking about a reboot for, I don’t know, what, 23 years now? So, it seems to be a talking point [Laughs], but that’s all I know. I don’t have any control over that, but if I was asked [to cameo], out of sheer respect of me playing Spawn, I would do what I can as thanks to the fans. I don’t tend to register Spawn talk any more after hearing it for 23 years!”

Whether through the traditional Hollywood route or an independent venture, McFarlane’s commitment ensures that “Spawn” will eventually find its way to the big screen, much to the excitement of its ardent followers.

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

‘Saltburn’ Sparks a Wave of Hilariously Horrified Family Reactions on Social Media [Video]

Evil Dead Rise

Most Memorable Kills in the Horror Movies of 2023

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

You Won’t Have to Wait Until 2033 for a New ‘Evil Dead’ Film Says Campbell

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

Top 2024 Horror Movies to Watch Out For: Our Anticipated Picks

maXXXine

Ti West’s ‘MaXXXine’ Said to be Over the Top Gory and an Homage to Dario Argento

Hulu

Hulu Added Some Great Horror Movies Today To End Out 2023

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

Is ‘Sorority Row 2’ Happening? Original Writer Tweets Out Promising Hint

The Faculty

Robert Rodriguez’s ‘The Faculty’ May Be Getting A Reboot

Alien Book

‘Alien’ is Being Made Into a Children’s ABC Book

twister movie twisters

‘Twisters’ Gets Plot Updates From Actor Glen Powell

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

The Best Final Girls of Horror in 2023

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

47 Meters Down Executive Producers Film ‘No Way Up’ Gets R Rating and Release Date

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

Blumhouse and Atomic Monster Officially Merge Together

popcorn

The Weirdest 90s Slashers And The End Of The ‘Camp Horror’ Era

the first omen trailer

‘The First Omen’ Official Trailer Doesn’t Give Away Much

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

New Horror Game ‘Infestation: Origins’ Features Grotesque Mickey Mouse Killer

Emily the criminal

Guillermo del Toro is Raving About Aubrey Plaza’s Movie on Netflix

The Black Phone

Director Scott Derrickson Returns to Helm ‘The Black Phone 2’

Strange

Why ‘Strange Days’ is The Best Film to Revisit Every New Year

did the ghostface costume exist before scream

‘Friday the 13th’ Invades the ‘Doom’ Universe [Video]

Emily the criminal

‘Mickey’s Mouse Trap’ Trailer Drops the Same Day Steamboat Willie Arrives on Public Domain

the first omen trailer

IMAGES

  1. The Origin Of The Ghostface Mask In Scream Is Delightfully Mundane

    did the ghostface costume exist before scream

  2. We Finally Know The Origin Of The Ghostface Mask In Scream

    did the ghostface costume exist before scream

  3. TIL that the ghostface costume existed before the Scream movies and was

    did the ghostface costume exist before scream

  4. Loren's Ghost: The Haunted History Of The SCREAM Mask

    did the ghostface costume exist before scream

  5. Who is GhostFace? A Ranking Before The 'Scream' Finale!

    did the ghostface costume exist before scream

  6. 26 Horror movies ideas

    did the ghostface costume exist before scream

VIDEO

  1. 1996 Ghostface robe from Scream robes #scream #ghostface

  2. Ghostface costume

  3. GhostFace Costume from Pes