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Meet the artist taking Halloween masks to a monstrous new level

This world-renowned sculptor tells us why he turned to the classics for this Halloween maskstravaganza.


Aja Romano


When you want a job well done, you call on the experts. And when you want to scare the pants off someone for Halloween, you call on a master artist to return to the classics: terrifying monsters.

Sculptor Mario Chiodo has carved famous works of public art around the globe, but he wanted to go back to his roots for his new collection of ginormous monster masks, created for Buy Costume’s Halloween Nightmare collection.

Steampunk Frankenstein

Steampunk Frankenstein

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The elaborate mask lineup features plenty of familiar monsters, plus hybrids of old favorites, including “Steampunk Frankenstein, “Schnoz Goblin,” and our favorite, the “Mammoth Chomping Spider:” 

Chiodo tells us he uses the same aesthetics and design principles for these wearable monsters as he does for his classical works and his notable sculptures. Here’s a playlist preview of the full collection.

As a sculptor, Chiodo is best known for his memorial statues and tribute sculptures at museums, institutes, and public places. We wrangled a few moments of his time and asked him what it’s like to go from carving politicians to diving into full-on horror fandom.

Have you ever designed masks or costumes like these for Hollywood productions?  

    Not on the front of a movie, but I have been brought into movies from what could be done after it comes out. For example, because of my ability to sculpt forensically, I was brought into Lucas films to recreate Yoda, Darth Vader, and others from the movies. I had to make exact replicas of the characters that would then be transferred into collectibles and other categories for consumer products. I also did this for many well-known movies; including Terminator, Jurassic Park, Star Trek, and many others. I had become known in the movie industry as a person to seek and develop characters from movies into viable consumer products. I worked with every major film studio doing this. 

    Some of the best masks in the collection are dragon masks. What kinds of works inspired these, and why don’t we see any dragons in proper horror films?

    I have always had a love for dragons! They were kind of a fantasy pet growing up, and why I always include them. Dragons are also very difficult to do because of the nature of the anatomy and size perception. It’s also the challenge I like; most people doing this kind of thing don’t like the complications associated with the production of this kind of character. 

    Ember the Red Dragon

    Ember the Red Dragon

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    So many of these masks (Steampunk Frankenstein, Amphibious Alien) seem to be fusions of different concepts. How do you decide what kinds of elements to blend and what kinds of hybrids to create?

    The blending and hybrids is really nothing more than what has been happening creatively forever. If you think about it, everything is a blend or hybrid, you just have to focus on realizing that is how all things are made. Makes it easier to create when you acknowledge that, and opens up your thinking. 

    Can you talk about what some of your biggest influences are as a horror creator?

    I look for everything and everywhere for clues to creating. The funny thing is that it’s not that I look for horror themes, it’s more about looking for new shapes to implement into a look or style that I think people will like. Does not matter if it’s a good guy or bad guy, the bottom line [is] the creation has to be pleasing and easy to look at. I take this approach regardless of the subject matter. 

    When you studied classical artists and sculptors, you must have seen a lot of masterworks that incorporated horror elements. Did you bring any of that classical influence into the current collection?

    In all my studies (which is an never-ending process) I look for shapes and elements that cross over into everything. If you look at my scariest characters as well as my classical historical monuments, you will see the exact same lines and surfaces, but all are from opposite ends of the spectrum. 

    Snarling Werewolf

    Snarling Werewolf

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    What’s the best way to take care of a mask like this and ensure it has a long (after)life?

    The best way to care for items made from latex rubber are to spray them with hair spray. Give them 3 layers of spray, allowing each layer to dry fully between coats. This will get rid of dust, as well as bring out the color.

    Will you consider doing other collections like these? What would some of the themes be?

    Yes, we are deep into creating an entire new collection for 2016! The themes are so unlike anything that’s been done to date that they may have an entirely new name/category for the first time in Halloween and role playing. Without question, they are the craziest, wild, fantastical characters I have ever done!

    What are you dressing up as for Halloween?

    Halloween is the one day I dress up as something that no one would be expecting from me. Last year I made up an outfit called “Pimp out of work”… I’m sure something along those lines again…stay tuned!

    Photo courtesy of Buy Costumes

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