The story takes place a year after the events of The Haunted Mask. The main protagonist of the story is the obnoxious prankster Steve. Steve and his friend Chuck Greene harassed Carly Beth Caldwell relentlessly in the initial installment.
The cover illustration shows Steve in the old man mask on the steps of a house.
As the book opens, Steve Boswell is telling the reader about how much he hates first-graders. Steve wanted to let out a squirrel in the girls’ locker room, but it escaped and caused chaos in the gym. As punishment for this, Steve is told by his gym teacher that he can either blow up basketballs in the gym by mouth, or coach first-grade soccer. He chooses to coach. Steve calls the children animals since they are unruly brats who always torment him. The children trick him into kicking a concrete soccer ball. After practice, Steve runs into Chuck and discovers the children glued feathers to the books in Steve's book bag.
At the next practice, the children send their fattest member to tackle Steve. Steve declares that he will get the children back by scaring them. Coincidentally, at that moment, Carly Beth and her friend Sabrina are walking near Steve and Chuck and the two boys decide to scare them for old time's sake. The two boys attempt to sneak up on the girls but then they notice that Carly Beth is carrying her decapitated head around... of course it is really another plaster head made by Carly Beth's mother.
Steve tries to save face by stealing Carly Beth's head and playing keep away with it until Carly Beth will tell him where she bought her scary mask from last Halloween. At one point he threatens to drop-kick her head onto a nearby roof. She eventually gives up the name of the shop. Steve and Chuck head out for the party supply store where Carly Beth bought her mask. But it is abandoned! Luckily the two boys notice that the basement door to the shop has been left open and the two sneak down to steal a mask.
Chuck initially expresses some concern that maybe they should stay out of the basement, but all that changes once they find a box full of disgusting and scary masks. Steve finally decides on an old man mask, which in addition to looking hideous, feels and smells hideous. The two boys hear footsteps above them from the supposedly abandoned shop, and Chuck ditches his friend Steve, who is now stuck in the basement as the Shopkeeper from the first book clomps down to the basement. Steve tries explaining to the man that he was not stealing one of his masks, which does not work. Steve offers to buy it, but the shopkeeper will not sell it to him. So Steve makes a break for it and runs out of the basement with the mask. He and Chuck run all the way home. Steve does not tell Chuck about the mask, hiding it under his shirt. Once he gets home, Steve thinks he feels the mask bite his stomach.
Steve's Halloween revenge plan goes into action on the day before Halloween, as he tells his entire first grade soccer team to meet in front of the haunted Carpenter Mansion on Halloween Night to go trick-or-treating together. With his plan set, he goes home to try on the mask, in hopes of scaring his friend Chuck. However, as soon as he slides the old man mask over his head, it melds to his skin and suddenly he feels tired and starts cackling like an old man.
After scaring his dog, Steve hears his mother approaching his room. He makes up an excuse about being sick to explain his old man voice and his mother tells him from outside his door that she bought cookies. After his mother goes away, he tries to make it to the telephone, which takes several minutes of trying for Steve to be able to hobble in the direction of the telephone. Steve reasons that maybe the same thing happened to Carly Beth with her mask and she will know how to save him. When Steve calls her house though, her father thinks Steve is some creepy old man prank calling his daughter and hangs up on him.
Steve craves oatmeal and laments on how he has outgrown trick-or-treating. Steve's plan is to act like the old man costume is his Halloween costume, so he can leave the house without alarming his parents. Then he will go scare the first-graders, then finally find Carly Beth and get the mask removed.
After fooling his parents, Old Man Steve approaches the rowdy first graders who were waiting for him in front of the mansion, but unfortunately instead of being terrified of him, the children immediately become considerate and helpful, asking if he is lost and if they can help him. He attempts to convince him that he is the ghost of the mansion, but the children cry out in concern for his safety. Several of the children take turns holding Old Man Steve's hand as they lead him to Carly Beth's house. Unfortunately, Old Man Steve looks too much like an old man and Carly Beth thinks he is the creepy man who prank called her earlier. She runs away to get her father to call the police. Fortunately, Steve gets Sabrina's attention and her and Carly Beth, who is dressed in last year's abandoned duck costume, stop and come back to attend to Steve.
Carly Beth recaps the end of the previous book for Steve and tells him he needs to find his own symbol of love to get the mask off. Steve thinks he knows of a symbol of love and the two rush off to Steve's house. Once inside, Steve's dog attacks him and Carly Beth has to hold the yapping little dog at arm's length so Steve can safely move around the house. Steve's symbol of love was those cookies his mother had bought him. Unfortunately, Steve's dog ate all the cookies while Steve was out. The dog tries rubbing against Old Man Steve's leg to get him to pet him. Carly Beth realizes that the dog could be Steve's symbol of love. Steve hugs the dog tight and nothing happens. Carly Beth shrugs her shoulders and figures that maybe it is different for each mask and it must take something other than a symbol of love for Steve's mask to come off.
The two trek off to the "abandoned" party shop and sneak into the basement, which is still unlocked. Carly Beth pokes around some boxes and finds an old tuxedo suit that looks like it goes with the old man mask. She holds the suit up and suddenly the old man mask floats off Steve's head and lands on the collar of the suit. The old man is now complete and alive, happily thrashing around in the room as Steve is reverted back to his old self. The old man makes a break for it out the basement door and Carly Beth and Steve don't really pay that detail too much thought as they exit, laughing.
As they are walking home, Chuck pops out wearing one of the other masks from the shop. He explains that he took the mask from the basement before he ran out of it. He also tells them that he has trouble getting the mask off and he wants their help to get it off.
Cover art gallery
- This book seemingly contradicts its sequel, The Scream of the Haunted Mask. Both books take place the year after the events in The Haunted Mask occur.
The episode had some differences that were not present in the book. The book was about Steve Boswell coming across the old man mask that gradually began turning him into an old man. The television episode had the Haunted Mask revive on its own and possess the mask maker in an attempt to merge with Carly Beth again. All the while, Steve finds the old man mask and it bonds to his face. The Haunted Mask decides to use Steve as his minion in order to get to Carly Beth. And at the very end Steve and Carly Beth decided to burn their masks at Steve's place, shockingly Carly Beth's mask suddenly returns.
- The original premiere of the episode and its VHS release include R.L. Stine as the television episode's host.
- These episodes have been released on DVD.
- John White (Steve) didn't portray Steve in The Haunted Mask, but he played Michael Webster at 12 in Season 1's The Cuckoo Clock of Doom
- The ending is different from the book, with the Masks being burned instead of Chuck putting it on.
- Kathryn Short (Sabrina) played Sue in Season 1's The Cuckoo Clock of Doom.
- Scott Wickware (The Haunted Mask) appeared twice more in Season 2 as the Masked Mutant in Attack of the Mutant, and the hard hat worker in Welcome to Dead House.
- Cody Jones (Noah) played Danny Anderson in Season 4's The Ghost Next Door.
- Chuck uses cotton wool to stuff his cheeks. This is a reference to Marlon Brando in The Godfather.
- A poster of Courtney Love appears in Steve's bedroom.