Thomas Vincent Savini (born November 3, 1946) is an American actor, stunt performer, film director, and prosthetic makeup artist. He is known for his makeup and special effects work on many films directed by George A. Romero, including Martin, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Creepshow and Monkey Shines; he also created the special effects and makeup for many cult classics like Friday the 13th (parts I and IV), Maniac, The Burning, The Prowler and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
Savini directed Night of the Living Dead, the 1990 remake of Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead; his other directing work include three episodes of the TV show Tales from the Darkside and one segment in The Theatre Bizarre. As an actor and stuntman, he has appeared in films such as Martin, Dawn of the Dead, Knightriders, From Dusk till Dawn, Planet Terror, Machete, Django Unchained and Machete Kills.
Savini at Spooky Empire's Ultimate Horror Weekend 2014, held in Orlando, Florida.
Thomas Vincent Savini
November 3, 1946
Savini was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is of Italian descent. He was raised Catholic and graduated from Central Catholic High School. As a boy, his inspiration was actor Lon Chaney, Sr., and Savini attributes his earliest desires to create makeup effects to Chaney and the film Man of a Thousand Faces. Experimenting with whatever medium he could find, the young Savini practiced creating makeup effects on himself, later convincing his friends to let him practice his craft on them. He also discovered another passion, acting. Combining his makeup applications and homemade costumes, he especially enjoyed scaring his friends. Savini attended Point Park University for three years, before enlisting in the United States Army. After his tour in Vietnam, he attended Carnegie-Mellon University, as the first undergraduate to be awarded a full fellowship in the acting and directing program. He appeared in stage productions throughout college and continued on stage long after his tour of duty in Vietnam.
Savini served as a combat photographer during the Vietnam War. In a 2002 interview, he told the Pittsburgh Post "When I was in Vietnam I was a combat photographer. My job was to shoot images of damage to machines and to people. Through my lens, I saw some hideous [stuff]. To cope with it, I guess I tried to think of it as special effects. Now, as an artist, I just think of creating the effect within the limitations we have to deal with." He continued to practice with makeup in Vietnam, often frightening indigenous peasants by appearing to suddenly transform into a "monster". Using the lens of his camera, Savini separated himself from the real life horrors of war; however, all the images still haunted his mind. Savini said his wartime experiences influenced his eventual style of gory effects: "I hated that when I watched a war movie and someone dies. Some people die with one eye open and one eye half-closed, sometimes people die with smiles on their faces because the jaw is always slack. I incorporated the feeling of the stuff I saw in Vietnam into my work." In 1970, while on guard duty, a flare was triggered in the jungle area Savini was watching. Against military protocol, Savini fired into the bush without informing his superiors. Other soldiers likewise began firing until a duck wandered from the bush completely unharmed. Due to his failure to follow orders, Savini was taken off guard duty from his bunker on the following evening. That same evening, the bunker came under attack and several soldiers were wounded or killed. As a result of this incident, Savini earned the nickname "Duck Slayer" and to this day will not eat duck.
Among the many talents Savini achieved as a young man was the art of fencing, he is a tournament fencer as well as an accomplished gymnast. Much of his stunt work and some of his characters reflect these graceful abilities; however, he is also accomplished with a bull whip and can easily execute a motorcycle stunt. Many of his characters have been bikers or madmen who are hardened and eerily evil.
Savini is primarily known for his groundbreaking work in the field of special make-up effects, also known as prosthetic makeup. His signature style and techniques bring vivid realism to genre films. Early in Savini's career, Dick Smith became an inspiration and a guide, later becoming an associate at Savini's Special Make-up Effects Program. Among other projects, Smith is known for his groundbreaking work in The Exorcist.
Savini got his breakthrough working with Pittsburgh filmmaker George A. Romero, providing a convincing wrist-slashing effect in the opening scenes of Martin (1978). The following year, working with a larger budget on Dawn of the Dead, Savini created his signature palette of severed limbs and bite-marks. In the 1980 slasher film Friday the 13th, Savini expanded his repertoire of blood and gore. He continued to perfect those techniques in another film that year, Maniac. Along with the 1981 films The Burning and The Prowler, Savini earned the nickname "The Sultan of Splatter". In 1982, he created more traditional horror effects in the film Creepshow directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King. In 1984, he agreed to work on Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, where he killed his creation Jason Voorhees. Returning to the zombie genre in 1985, Savini was nominated and won the 1985 Saturn Award for Best Makeup Effects for his work on the Romero's Day of the Dead. In 1986, Savini worked with director Tobe Hooper on the film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Savini has also worked on films by Italian director Dario Argento, first in 1990 on the film Two Evil Eyes and again on the 1993 film Trauma. In the 1991 film Heartstopper, he created special effects for director John A. Russo. Although focusing more on his acting career in recent years, Savini has continued to be active with special makeup effects and in 2011 supervised the effects for the Australian film Redd Inc.
As an actor, Savini has appeared in many of the same films he was creating effects for. His first appearance was a relatively straight, innocuous character in Martin in 1978; however, he played a menacing biker called Blades in his next film Dawn of the Dead (1978), a role he reprised in zombie form with a cameo appearance in the 2005 continuation of the series, Land of the Dead. In the 1980 film Maniac, his brief role in the film found him facing the maniac's shotgun and having his head blown off in a spectacular display. Savini had a much more prominent role as biker and antagonist Morgan, the Black Knight, in George A. Romero's Knightriders (1981). Continuing with the biker theme, Savini played the universally recognized, whip-wielding, vampire-fighting biker "Sex Machine" in the 1996 Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez film From Dusk till Dawn. (This character was a riff on Blades from Dawn of the Dead replete with the same costume.)
In 2007, Savini had a role in Planet Terror, one of two stories in the Grindhouse film, directed by Robert Rodriguez. Savini plays Deputy Tolo, who fights to save his town from an infestation of zombie-like creatures. In another Rodriguez film, Machete, based on a fake movie trailer played during the film Grindhouse, Savini played Osiris Amanpour, hired to track and kill the main character, Machete. Savini reprised his role in the sequel, Machete Kills. Throughout the years, Savini has appeared in movie roles from cameos as the vampire David Van Etten in Lost Boys: The Tribe, as the sheriff in the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, or tongue in cheek characters, like Jesus Christ in Zombiegeddon (2003). In 2006, Savini essayed the role of Prester John, the mythical villain in the dreamlike Sea of Dust. That year also saw the release of Johannes Roberts' Forest of the Damned, in which Savini played a mad hermit surrounded by angels cast from heaven. In 2008, he made a brief appearance in Zack & Miri Make a Porno as a thieving slumlord. He also appeared in The Dead Matter, along with Andrew Divoff and Jim O'Rear. Savini voiced himself on The Simpsons episode "Worst Episode Ever". While making an appearance at Android's Dungeon, Savini performs the "Gutbuster" gag, covering the crowd in "blood and guts" and consequently humiliating the Comic Book Guy. In 2012, Savini appeared as a shop teacher, Mr. Callahan, in the Pittsburgh-set teen drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower, starring Logan Lerman. Savini also appeared as one of the Trackers in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. Future projects include Savini starring in the Nazi zombie film The 4th Reich directed by Shaun Robert Smith, playing the role of SS-Standartenführer Oskar Dirlewanger. As a film director, Savini helmed episodes of the syndicated television series Tales from the Darkside, the aforementioned 1990 color remake of Night of the Living Dead and, House Call, the pilot of the proposed series The Chill Factor, which starred Pittsburgh actor Bingo O'Malley. In 2011, he directed "Wet Dreams", one of six segments to the horror film The Theatre Bizarre. In 2009, Savini announced his plan to direct a new film, Death Island, with special make-up effects by his former protege Greg Nicotero. On September 1, 2013, Savini began a crowd funding project on Indiegogo for Death Island. His plans are to begin filming by the end of 2013.
In the 2008 novel Bad Moon Rising by Jonathan Maberry, Savini appears as one of the real-world horror celebrities who are in the fictional town of Pine Deep when monsters attack; other celebrities include James Gunn, Jim O'Rear, Brinke Stevens, Ken Foree, Stephen Susco, Debbie Rochon, Joe Bob Briggs and blues man Mem Shannon.
Savini also briefly took part in Jerry Lawler's 2010 revival of the Memphis Wrestling pro wrestling television show. His on-screen character sent horror-movie monsters (played by wrestlers from the Memphis area) onto the show to get revenge for Savini who blamed Lawler for the death of Savini's friend Andy Kaufman; the monsters' handler was manager "Hollywood" Jimmy Blaylock.
In 2012, American filmmaker Jason Baker debuted a biography of Savini entitled Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini.
On January 15 2018, Savini announce via his Instagram that he would be directing a horror web series alongside several others, including Tina Romero, the late George A. Romero's daughter. Special effects for the web series will be completed by Savini's students at Pa Douglas Education Center. The web series is currently in production.
Savini runs the Tom Savini's Special Make-Up Effects Program at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen, Pennsylvania. Savini is happy to say that he refers offers he receives for movie make-up effects projects to his students and graduates of his school as well.
Savini is the author of several books on special effects including Grande Illusions I and II (1983, 1994) which detail the production and mechanical workings of many of his famous film effects. In Horror F/X, a 1989 direct-to-video interview conducted by frequent collaborator John A. Russo, Savini explains many of his effects techniques, illustrated by film clips and behind-the-scenes video footage. He is also associated with other books in the horror genre including Book of the Dead and Horror 101 for which he wrote the foreword. Savini has also appeared in public demonstrating his effects, including two memorable appearances in the 1980s on Late Night With David Letterman in which he demonstrated such effects as "fire gel" and a gunshot to the head on Letterman himself.
|1978||Martin||Arthur||First film with George A. Romero|
|Dawn of the Dead||Blades||Second film with George A. Romero|
|1981||Knightriders||Morgan||Third film with George A. Romero|
|1982||Creepshow||Garbage Man #2||Fourth film with George A. Romero (cameo)|
|1984||The Boy Who Loved Trolls||Motorcyclist|
|1985||The Ripper||Jack the Ripper||Direct-to-video; shot in and around Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|1986||Twisted Sister: Come Out and Play||Teacher||Cameo|
|1987||Creepshow 2||The Creep|
|1990||Two Evil Eyes||The Monomaniac (Uncredited)||Fifth film with George A. Romero|
|1992||Innocent Blood||News Photographer|
|1994||Heartstopper||Lt. Ron Vargo|
|1996||Mr. Stitch||Chemical Weapons Engineer||Television film|
|From Dusk till Dawn||Sex Machine|
|2000||Sheena||Peter Reynolds||Episode "Lost Boy"|
|2001||The Monster Man||Uncle Joe|
|Web of Darkness||Rouge|
|Children of the Living Dead||Deputy Hughs|
|The Simpsons||Himself||Episode "Worst Episode Ever"|
|2002||Eyes Are Upon You||Eddie Rao|
|Ted Bundy||Salt Lake City Detective|
|Zombiegeddon||Jesus Christ||New York City Horror Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award|
|Dawn of the Dead||The County Sheriff||Remake of the 1978 film Dawn of the Dead|
|Death 4 Told||Man||Cameo|
|Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments||Himself||Television Mini-Series documentary, Part 1: 100-81|
|2005||Forest of the Damned||Stephen|
|Land of the Dead||Blades (Zombie)||Sixth film with George A. Romero|
|2006||A Dream of Colour in Black and White||Caddy|
|Beyond the Wall of Sleep||Sheriff|
|The Absence of Light||The Higher Power|
|Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film||Himself||Documentary|
|2007||Grindhouse||Deputy Tolo||Segment Planet Terror|
|Loaded Dice||The Bishop|
|2008||Silent Vengeance||Daniel Phillips|
|It's My Party and I'll Die If I Want To||Uncle Tom|
|Lost Boys: The Tribe||David Van Etten||Sequel to the 1987 film The Lost Boys|
|Zack and Miri Make a Porno||Jenkins|
|Sea of Dust||Prester John|
|His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th||Himself - Host||Television documentary|
|2010||The Dead Matter||Sebed|
|Aqua Teen Hunger Force||Cop||Episode: "One Hundred"|
|2012||The Theatre Bizarre||Dr. Maurey|
|Django Unchained||Tracker Chaney|
|The Perks of Being a Wallflower||Mr. Callahan|
|2013||Machete Kills||Osiris Amanpour|
|The 4th Reich||SS-Standartenführer Oskar Dirlewanger|
|LocoCycle||Holt Ryebach (live acting only)||Video game|
|Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th||Himself - Special Make-Up Effects||Video documentary|
|2015||The Sadist||The Sadist|
|2016||From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series||Burt|
|Dawn of the Dead||Nominated: Saturn Award for Best Make-Up Effects|
|1980||Friday the 13th|
|1981||Eyes of a Stranger|
|1982||Xiao sheng pa pa|
|Alone in the Dark|
|1984||Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter||Jason Voorhees|
|1985||Day of the Dead||Saturn Award for Best Make-Up Effects|
|1986||Twisted Sister: Come out and Play|
|The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2|
|1988||Tales From the Darkside||Episode "Family Reunion"|
|1990||Two Evil Eyes|
|Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh|
|H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon|
|1995||Ghostwriter||Episode "Attack of the Slime Monster"|
|1996||Mr. Stitch||Television film|
|2001||Web of Darkness|
|2011||Death from Above|
|1984–1988||Tales from the Darkside||TV, three episodes|
|1990||Night of the Living Dead||Remake of the 1968 film|
|2004||Chill Factor: House Call|
|2011||The Theatre Bizarre||Segment "Wet Dreams"|
|TBD||Nightmare City||Remake of Nightmare City (1980)|
The 13th Saturn Awards, honoring the best in science fiction, fantasy and horror film in 1985, were held on May 28, 1986.American Scary
American Scary is a 2006 American documentary film about the history and legacy of classic television horror hosts, written and directed by American independent filmmakers John E. Hudgens and Sandy Clark.
The film features nearly 60 horror hosts, including interviews with and vintage clips of many of the genre's stars, such as Washington, DC's Count Gore De Vol, New York City's Zacherley, Los Angeles' Vampira, Cleveland's Ghoulardi, and Chicago's Svengoolie, among others. Non-host celebrities such as Neil Gaiman, Tim Conway, Forrest J Ackerman, Tom Savini, Leonard Maltin, Joel Hodgson, and Bob Burns appear to reminisce about the influence of horror hosts on their careers and/or lives, as well as many modern hosts who keep the tradition alive in modern shows on public-access television cable TV or the internet.
The film premiered in October 2006 at the Hollywood Film Festival, and was released on DVD in February 2009. In April 2010, it won the award for Best Independent Production of 2009 at the 8th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.Children of the Living Dead
Children of the Living Dead is a 2001 American direct-to-video zombie film written by Karen L. Wolf, directed by Tor Ramsey, and executive produced by John A. Russo.Creepshow
Creepshow is a 1982 American horror comedy anthology film directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King, making this film his screenwriting debut. The film's ensemble cast includes Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson and E. G. Marshall, as well as King himself in his film acting debut. The film was shot on location in Pittsburgh and its suburbs, including Monroeville, where Romero leased an old boys academy (Penn Hall) to build extensive sets for the film.
The film consists of five short stories: "Father's Day", "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", "Something to Tide You Over", "The Crate" and "They're Creeping Up on You!" Two of these stories were adapted from King's short stories, with the film bookended by prologue and epilogue scenes featuring a young boy named Billy (played by King's son, Joe), who is punished by his father for reading horror comics.
The film is an homage to the EC and DC horror comics of the 1950s, such as House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear. In order for the film to give viewers a comic book feel, Romero hired long-time effects specialist Tom Savini to make comic-like effects.
The film earned $21,028,755 in the United States.Effects (film)
Effects (also released as The Manipulator) is an American horror film. It was filmed in 1978 but wasn't released until October 2005, when it received an official DVD release by Synapse Films. It features make-up effects by horror FX legend Tom Savini, who also appears in the film.Eyes of a Stranger (1981 film)
Eyes of a Stranger is a 1981 American slasher film directed by Ken Wiederhorn. It features makeup effects by Tom Savini and marked Jennifer Jason Leigh's film debut.Halloween Wars
Halloween Wars is an American reality competition series from Super Delicious, the production company behind Cupcake Wars and Cake Wars. It premiered on October 2, 2011, on Food Network and it runs over the course of four weeks in October. The show pits five teams made up of cake sculptors, sugar artists, and pumpkin carvers against each other to produce the ultimate Halloween themed display. The last team standing is awarded $50,000.The yearly series was hosted by Justin Willman (seasons 1–4), Rossi Morreale (season 5), and is currently hosted by Jonathan Bennett.Knightriders
Knightriders, also known as George A. Romero's Knightriders, is a 1981 American drama film written and directed by George A. Romero and starring Ed Harris, Gary Lahti, Tom Savini, Amy Ingersoll, Patricia Tallman, and Christine Forrest. It was filmed entirely on location in the Pittsburgh metro area, including Fawn Township and Natrona.The film represents a change of pace for Romero, known primarily for his horror films; it is a personal drama about a travelling renaissance fair troupe.Machete Kills
Machete Kills is a 2013 American action exploitation film co-written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. It is a sequel to Machete, and the third film based on a Grindhouse fake trailer. Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Tom Savini, Billy Blair, Electra and Elise Avellan, Felix Sabates, and Jessica Alba reprise their roles from the first film, and are joined by series newcomers Mel Gibson, Demián Bichir, Amber Heard, Sofía Vergara, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, Alexa Vega, William Sadler, Marko Zaror, and Charlie Sheen (credited by his birth name of "Carlos Estévez"). The film follows the titular ex-federal (Trejo) as he is recruited by the U.S. President (Sheen) to stop an arms dealer (Gibson) and a revolutionary (Bichir).The film was released on October 11, 2013, failing to recoup its budget of $20 million and received mixed reviews. Critics cited the overuse of plot points, poorly produced CGI, and the 'out-of-place' science fiction elements.Necronomicon (film)
Necronomicon (also called H. P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead or Necronomicon: To Hell and Back) is a 1993 French-American anthology horror film. It features three distinct segments and a wraparound directed by Brian Yuzna, Christophe Gans and Shusuke Kaneko and written by Gans, Yuzna, Brent V. Friedman, and Kazunori Itō. The film's ensemble cast includes stars Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Payne, Richard Lynch, Belinda Bauer, Maria Ford, Dennis Christopher, Gary Graham, and David Warner. The extensive special makeup and animatronic effects were supervised by Tom Savini and were created by John Carl Buechler, Christopher Nelson, and Screaming Mad George.
The three stories in the film are based on three H. P. Lovecraft short stories: The Drowned is loosely based on The Rats in the Walls, The Cold is based on Cool Air, and Whispers is based on The Whisperer in Darkness.Night of the Living Dead (1990 film)
Night of the Living Dead is a 1990 American horror film directed by Tom Savini and starring Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, and Tom Towles. It is a remake of George A. Romero's 1968 horror film of the same name. Romero rewrote the original 1968 screenplay he had originally co-authored with John A. Russo.Night of the Living Dead 3D
Night of the Living Dead 3D or Night of the Living DE3D is a 2006 horror film made in 3D. It is the second remake of the 1968 horror classic Night of the Living Dead. The first remake was released in 1990 and was directed by Tom Savini from a revised screenplay by George A. Romero. Unlike the first remake, no one involved with the original is involved with this version. The original film was never properly copyrighted, and so it has fallen into the public domain, making this remake possible with no permission from the original's creators (the original movie can actually be seen playing on TV in this version).
It was released on DVD on October 9, 2007 in two separate versions, the original 3D format which includes four pairs of anaglyph (red/blue) 3D glasses, and a 2D version that does not require nor include any 3D glasses.Nightmare (1981 film)
Nightmare (also known as Nightmares in a Damaged Brain) is a 1981 American slasher film written and directed by Romano Scavolini, and starring Baird Stafford and Sharon Smith. Its plot follows a deranged man, subject to a medical experiment, who leaves his New York City psychiatric institute to murder his ex-wife and child in Florida.
Nightmare gained instant notoriety among horror fans when it was banned in the UK as a video nasty and its distributor was sentenced to 18 months in prison for refusing to edit one second of violent footage. The film also garnered controversy for claiming in its press material that Tom Savini had provided the film's special effects, which Savini vehemently denied.Sea of Dust (film)
Sea of Dust is a 2008 horror-fantasy film directed by Scott Bunt and starring Tom Savini and Ingrid Pitt. It takes its name from the boundary separating reality from religious truth, a boundary epitomized by Prester John's Sea of Dust.Texas Frightmare Weekend
Texas Frightmare Weekend is a horror-oriented for-profit media event held annually in the Dallas, Texas area. Guests have included actors, directors, and producers from classic and upcoming horror films.The Demolitionist
The Demolitionist is an American action-horror film directed by Robert Kurtzman. The film stars Nicole Eggert, Bruce Abbott, Heather Langenkamp, Susan Tyrrell and Tom Savini.The Theatre Bizarre
The Theatre Bizarre is a 2011 American horror anthology film. The six segments are directed by Douglas Buck, Buddy Giovinazzo, David Gregory, Karim Hussain, Tom Savini and Richard Stanley. The wraparound segments featuring Udo Kier were directed by Jeremy Kasten.Worst Episode Ever
"Worst Episode Ever" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' twelfth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 4, 2001. In the episode, Bart and Milhouse are banned from The Android's Dungeon after stopping Comic Book Guy from buying a box of priceless Star Wars memorabilia for $5. However, when Comic Book Guy suffers a massive heart attack after Tom Savini's show, he hires Bart and Milhouse as his replacements while he leaves his job to make friends.
"Worst Episode Ever" was written by Larry Doyle and directed by Matthew Nastuk. The series' staff found it hard to make Comic Book Guy seem likable, since he is usually portrayed as sarcastic and unfriendly. The episode features actor and makeup artist Tom Savini as himself. In its original broadcast, the episode was seen by approximately 10 million viewers, finishing in 27th place in the ratings the week it aired. Since its broadcast, the episode received positive reviews from critics, and Hank Azaria won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for his performance as Comic Book Guy in the episode.Yoshihiro Nishimura
Yoshihiro Nishimura (西村喜廣, Nishimura Yoshihiro) is a Japanese film director, special effects and makeup effects artist, and a screenwriter who has worked predominantly in the horror genre. Nishimura has been described as "a legendary director and effects artist" and "the Tom Savini of Japan" with "talent to burn".
Note: The years are listed as per convention, usually the year of film release; the ceremonies are usually held the next year.