In 1978, Tom Savini changed the world of horror films as we know it. His special effects makeup on DAWN OF THE DEAD rocked the world with explicit gore, showing just how far that film could push visuals. When DAWN became a worldwide box office hit, it established him as the makeup guy. He became a hot commodity, employed by directors the likes of Sean Cunningham, William Lustig, and Joseph Zito among others. But his legacy will always be his collaboration with George A. Romero. Their work on such horror classics as CREEPSHOW and DAY OF THE DEAD kept going a bond that is unmatched between legendary director and f/x master.
Tom’s experiences as a still photographer in the Vietnam War led him to bring a realism to the makeup, a fact he chronicled on many documentaries. He eyes things as a magician does, misdirecting the viewer’s eyes to pull off some of the best gore gags ever put to film. He enjoys watching his films with the general public, focusing on one fan and viewing “the evolution of a heart attack” as he puts it.
In honor of Savini’s great work and its importance to the genre, I’ve put together the Savini Retrospective for Death Ensemble.. Some of the reviews below were also part of our John Amplas Week (in the Romero-verse, crossovers as such are unavoidable). A few of them appeared on Icons of Fright in altered forms. The majority of them are Death Ensemble exclusives.
Today, Tom splits his time between his makeup effects school in PA, and the convention circuit, where he is a staple. Though he hasn’t done special effects makeup in years, it’s important to pay tribute, as I’ve done with each of the pieces below. His work is one of the reasons that sites such as Death Ensemble exist, and he is a master. Enjoy the reviews, as I’ve enjoyed Savini’s work over the years.