The protagonist of Paul Leni’s 1928 silent film “The Man Who Laughs” provided early inspiration for the Grabber’s freakishly stretched grin. “That particular grimace, I thought, could work well for the smile mask,” said Derrickson.
Savini and Baker also drew inspiration from circus masks, Greek masks, antique dolls, old movies like “Mr. Sardonicus” (1961) and the Coney Island barker. “We had a whole vision board at our studio, just little ideas and things that inspired us,” said Baker.
“And Scott had photos,” said Savini. “So it was a back-and-forth process with Scott.”
“Scott was like, ‘It needs to look like something that [the Grabber] found, not something he created,’” said Baker. “They wanted it very old, very antique-y looking. Maybe something that was made for a theatrical production or something of that nature.”
Derrickson sent over some old ceramic masks for reference, as well as other types of handmade masks. “Jason started to really refine it and do 3-D concept work of Tom’s design, showing me what he thought it would look like,” he said. “In making it, we almost ran out of time. Because I spent most of my pre-production trying to get the masks just right and it was just not getting quite right. And then right at the last minute, everything clicked into place.”