Tom Savini has also published two books, Grande Illusions and Grande Illusions Book Two, which describe the art and technique of special make-up effects, with photos from many of his films.
Tom Savini was born in 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a boy, he became very interested in make-up effects after watching the film Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) in which James Cagney stars as the legendary Lon Chaney Senior. In the days of silent cinema, Chaney was the actor who transformed himself into many grotesque characters such as 'The Phantom Of The Opera' and 'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame'.
After leaving the armed forces, Savini spent six years as a freelance photographer by day and, in the evenings, as an actor/make-up artist in regional theatre in North Carolina. It was
He gained wider recognition after working with George Romero on Martin (1977) about a 17 year old who thinks he is a vampire. Savini did the make up, the special effects, some stuntwork and also played the small role of Arthur.
Tom Savini graduated from Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University and later served in Vietnam, as a combat photographer.
The collaboration with George Romero blossomed a year later when Savini provided the many gory effects in the zombie film Dawn of the Dead (1978). He played Blades, the biker who falls over the balcony into a fountain after being shot, as well as a number of other stunts in the film, like driving a motor bike through a plate glass window.
After Dawn of the Dead, Savini's film career took off, and he was much in demand from producers who wanted his various skills, especially in the make-up department.
The early 1980s saw the rise of the 'splatter movie' which required more and more outrageous special effects from the likes of Savini, Dick Smith and Rob Bottin. Savini was responsible for the effects in the controversial 'slasher' film Friday The 13th (1980) and later, for Maniac (1980) in which he plays the character 'Disco Boy' decapitated by a shotgun blast, Burning (1981), Creepshow (1982) and Romero's Day of the Dead (1985) which won him a Saturn award for his amazing zombie make-up effects.
Savini's later film characters (usually bikers) have included Morgan in Romero's Knightriders (1981) and Sex Machine in Tarantino's From Dusk Till Dawn (1996).
Savini has also directed three TV episodes of Tales From the Dark Side (1984-88) and Night of the Living Dead (1990).
His 'Special Make-Up Effects School', which is part of the Douglas Education Centre in Monessen, Pennsylvania, has been a great success since the day it opened.
Tom Savini has always been a big fan of Lon Chaney, and named his son, after him.
Since 2000, Savini has had small roles in over 20 horror films including Romero's fourth 'Dead' film Land of the Dead (2005) in which he plays the 'Machete Zombie', Grindhouse (2007) and Sea of Dust (2007). In this he stars as the mythical villain Prester John, a role written by Scott Brunt with Tom Savini in mind.
Tom Savini is one of the great legends in the horror business and I was delighted to get the chance to meet him at the NEC in 2005. He is renowned throughout the film industry for his work with special effects and make-up.
then that he honed his make up skills. A typical evening meant playing a lead character, applying his own make up and, before the curtain went up, apply beards & scars to nearly everyone else in the cast!
Tom signed my Dawn of the Dead poster and then I had this photograph taken with him.
Tom Savini with his famous crotch gun
in From Dusk Till Dawn
Tom Savini's two books on special
DAWN OF THE DEAD
Tom Savini made up as
(above) Tom Savini as 'Blades'
(left) Two of the Zombies
Tom Savini with one of his 'creations'
special make-up effects
Tom Savini surrounded by some of his
Lon Chaney Sr.
Dawn of the Dead
Gory scene from
Poster for Dawn of the Dead
Tom Savini as The Bishop in Loaded Dice
Tom Savini in From Dusk Till Dawn
Tom Savini and Michael Biehn in Planet Terror
Tom Savini as Kane in Vicious
Tom Savini as Morgan in Knightriders
Tom Savini in Maniac
for his role as Bub in Day of the Dead
Tom Savini makes up Sherman Howard
Tom Savini in Sea of Dust
Tom Savini as
in Land of the Dead
Tom Savini featured in Greg Horn's painting
for the game City of the Dead
I met him again in 2008 at Earls Court (photo at the foot of this page).
I met Tom Savini again at Earls Court in July 2008
Tom Savini signed two of my Masterprints
Tom Savini has signed this photograph to me
Tom Savini signed my Dawn of the Dead poster
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