We’d like to welcome our latest member to the adopt a highway program, Trick or Treat Studios. They recently become one of our advertising partners and we gotta say their masks are flippin’ amazing. You gotta see the detail on these works of art. We sat down with the owner, Christopher Zephro and talked about his rubbery obsession.

LH: Tell us a little bit on how you got started in mask making?

Chris: Personally, I couldn’t sculpt a mask if my life depended on it, but I have always been a big mask collector ever since I was a kid, so when I decided to leave Corporate America and start my own company, masks and the Halloween business seemed like the best idea for me given the state of the Halloween Mask industry and a desire to work in an area that was in line with my passion.

LH: What were some of your favorite b-movies when you were a kid and today?

Chris: Well you have to remember when this movie first came out it was very much a B-Movie if you consider the budget and production value and that would have to be Halloween. I also watched all of the B-Movies like Pieces, Mortuary, Mad Man, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, CHUD, Magic and Piranah.

LH: How has the mask market changed since we were kids in the 80’s.

Chris: It’s changed a lot! Back in the 80’s masks were really high quality. They were made in the USA or Mexico and they had a really nice look and feel to them. The characters were original and the designs were first class. Now, most of my favorite companies are either gone or have moved all of their production to China. The masks are cheap looking, flimsy, the paint is bad and the quality of the latex has so many fillers in to that the mask will rot away in under a year, plus the smell. Also, the designs look horrible and there is no attention to detail. It seems like none of these companies care about anything but the price. It’s sad, but it opened up a huge door for Trick or Treat Studios to come in with top quality mask that had the look and feel of from the Golden Age of mask making. It took quite a while to educate the market, but Retailer are really coming around and are understanding that consumers will pay $10 more for a quality mask.

LH: How did the Halloween II mask deal come about with Universal?

Chris: I was actually approaching Universal Studios about some other masks we were interested in like They Live and the Funhouse and just in a passing comment I said, “is there anyway we could do anything with Halloween II? To my surprise they said yes and the conversation and licensing discussion changed to Halloween II and it stayed there until we had a signed contract in hand. It was a dream come true..

LH: What makes your masks different from the competition?

Chris: The quality, the craftsmanship and the character design of our masks. All of my Artists come from the independent mask making community, they are the best in the world and their names are on the back of every mask that they design. We market our sculptors. Combine that with a President that loves masks and knows a few things about business and you’ve got a good combination. We all love what we do and it shows in our work, I’d never ship a mask that I won’t be proud to have in my personal collection. Also, cost is not the number one thing for us, which is clearly the only thing my competitors focus on, for Trick or Treat Studios, quality and design integrity come first and second with cost being a long third.

LH: Can you talk a bit about your process for making them?

Chris: Ever mask is 100% hand made. It starts with a sculpture done in clay, which is then molded to make tooling masters. Those tooling master are then used to make molds. We can only get 20 masks per mold before a new mold needs to be made. From the molds, we pour our latex castings. Those casting are than trimmed and cut and than they go off to painting and hairing. It is a long process, that is literally is 100% hand made.

LH: Tell us a bit about your mask designers. How did they get on board making masks for Trick or Treat Studios.

Again I own Trick or Treat Studios, I’m not a sculptor, but our Art Director, Justin Mabry is the best mask maker in the world. Justin and I were friends for a number of years and when I decided that I wanted to start this company, he was my first chose to partner with for the venture. Justin put together the sculpting team and recruited the best Artist to fit what we wanted to do.

Trick or Treat Studios

LH: What’s on the horizon for Trick or Treat Studios? Any other cool masks you can talk about that are coming out?

We got some awesome stuff lined up for 2013 and I can discuss a few projects. We are going to be doing a Werewolf based on Eric Pigors Toxictoons. For Universal Studios we are going to be doing Darkman, They Live and the Funhouse. We are going to be doing Dark Night of the Scarecrow and we also have a handful of really nice original designs. And in 2013 we will be introducing some costumes and props.

LH: I know you frequent a lot of shows. Any conventions that you’ve really enjoyed? Any funny stories that happened at one?

The Haunt and Attractions show that TransWorld Exhibits put on is always a lot of fun. And I love doing Monsterpalooza. It’s a great opportunity to interact with the fans. I guess the funniest story is that a fan bought our Ghastly Ghoul mask one year and he liked it so much that the next year he showed up with a tattoo of the mask.

LH: Any strange requests from buyers?

Chris: Nothing to weird, but it’s hard to shock Justin and I.

We’d like to thank Chris for stopping at the Lost Highway drive-in and taking about his amazing masks. Go check them out and stock up early for Halloween or your next stalking. Keep on screamin’