Founded in 1938, Don Post Studios created iconic masks for both Hollywood and the everyman and even invented the classic rubber masks that we all knew and loved as kids on Halloween. This is the company that produced the William Shatner/Captain Kirk mask that became Michael Myers’ impassive visage in the HALLOWEEN series. The studio was critical in the shaping of Monster Kids back in the ’60s and ’70s. Don Post himself was buddies with our own Uncle Forry — a match made in horror heaven. The studio has such a dedicated fan base that there was even a convention — Don-Con, of course — last year in Burbank.
When DPS closed in September 2012, Lee Lambert, a longtime fan, expected there to be some kind of tribute book. When it never materialized, he decided to take on the Herculean task himself. THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF DON POST STUDIOS sold out immediately, surprising all involved, leading to the recent publication of a deluxe edition with 100 additional pages and a collector’s latex mask relief slipcase of Frankenstein’s monster crafted by Greg Duffy and Creature Revenge Studios. You really need to see it in person to appreciate it. It’s a work of art.
Lambert talked with FM from his home in Canada about his journey in compiling and researching the book, how Freddy Krueger saved the day, and times with Uncle Forry.
1. The first edition sold out so quickly. How is the second selling?
The early sales figures were actually similar to the mad rush of the first edition, but with many more copies available, we’re seeing the sales even out into a brisk, but steady pace. I have to admit, we were not at all prepared for the enthusiastic reception the first edition received. To give you an example of how we underestimated the demand, my publisher and I had discussed how we could use the Saturday afternoon Q&A panel to try and sell our remaining copies so we didn’t have to take any back with us from the launch event at Mask-Fest in Indianapolis. As it turned out, we were completely sold out within 20 minutes of the doors opening for early-entry pass holders on Friday afternoon.
It was such a tough thing for us to try and predict. It was my first book, and the first book about Halloween masks to be released in close to 20 years. I didn’t know if anyone other than a handful of die-hard collectors would actually buy it. The number of first-edition copies we had was limited due to us having to switch printers just over a month before the launch event. They sold out unbelievably quick, but we still had doubts as to whether there was enough of a sustained demand for the book to justify reprinting it.
After several months of fielding requests for more copies from retailers and collectors who missed out, combined with watching copies selling online for two to three times the cover value, we decided there was enough demand to release a second run. We realized we could improve the book by adding another 100 pages and we had the ability to release it in hardcover this time around. So, instead of reprinting what we had, we released a second “Deluxe Edition”. Being a larger book and hardcover, the price was obviously higher so we weren’t sure how that would affect sales. I’m quite proud of how well it has done and is continuing to do.
2. How much did the William Shatner/HALLOWEEN mask affect sales of Don’s masks?
It didn’t really have an effect until the mid 1980s. One thing you have to remember is the 1975 Captain Kirk mask was a dud in terms of sales. Most kids who wanted to dress as Kirk or Spock for Halloween would just wear costumes, and they really didn’t need the mask. This didn’t come as a shock to Don Post Studios. What they really wanted to release were the masks of the alien creatures from the show, namely the Gorn, Salt Vampire, and Mugato. It was Paramount that insisted Spock and Kirk be included in the STAR TREK line as part of the licensing agreement. Bill Malone, who sculpted the Kirk and Spock masks, said to me: “When HALLOWEEN was made, we couldn’t give those things away.”
By the time HALLOWEEN became popular and people wanted to dress up as Michael Myers, the Paramount license had expired and the Kirk masks were out of production. When HALLOWEEN II went into production several years later, Don Post Studios attempted to license the character but were unable to do so. The commercial success of HALLOWEEN II really showed the popularity of the Michael Myers character. Since they were unable to license the character, Post hired sculptor Neil Surges to sculpt a blank “everyman” mask that could pass as a generic Myers.
Released in 1986 as “the Mask,” it was a huge seller for Post and continued in production right up until 2012 when the company shut its doors. The Mask was even at the heart of some controversy when Don Post Studios sued Cinema Secrets Inc. for their licensed release of a Michael Myers mask in 1999, claiming that their mask was based on The Mask. When I discussed this lawsuit with Don Post Jr., he told me that it was necessary in order to firmly establish who owned what when it came to Michael Myers. As he put it, “Everyone wanted a piece of the pie, and Michael Myers was a big pie.” Ironically, six years after the lawsuit was decided against Post, they finally secured the rights to produce a Michael Myers mask. Since sales of the Mask were consistently high, they continued producing it alongside Myers.