The Gore Master: Tom Savini

You've seen his work in dozens of horror films. He brought Jason Voorhees to life as a somewhat deteriorated, lake dwelling child with Down Syndrome in the original Friday the 13th, he also supplied all of the grande guignol gore in that same film, climaxing with the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it beheading of Mrs. Voorhees at film's end.

His name is Tom Savini, and he's the Gore Master. And no, he's not gay, but, boy howdy, he is hot! And since this blog is for queers who love horror films, why not feature a little something on one of the more talented makeup men of all time, who just also happens to be, one the sexiest men of all time.

Actor, photographer, dancer, teacher, stunt man, special effects wiz, body builder, and all around swell guy, Tom Savini came to his calling when as a small boy he saw the film, The Man of a Thousand Faces, and instantly become enamored with silent film screen star, Lon Chaney. In fact Savini is such a fan of the film star and his self created makeup effects that he named his son, Lon and his daughter, Chaney.

As a young man serving in Vietnam, Savini was a combat photographer, and it is assumed that whatever real-life-horrors he saw in the war, have translated themselves into his rather realistic effects.

Working in theater as an actor and dancer for a bit after the war, Savini's big break came in 1976 when he did the special effects for George A. Romero's masterpiece, Dawn of the Dead.

Dawn of the Dead's special effects were positively ground breaking (as well as stomach turning) thanks to Savini's genius. From throats torn asunder; to arms ripped from sockets of hapless victims, Tom took the savagery of cinematic blood-letting to new heights in this film. And while many have tried, no one has been able to duplicate his work.

Dawn of the Dead also featured Savini in an acting role as the leather clad, hell raising biker, Blades. Tom got to battle some zombies, and even engage in a pie fight with them in the movie.

A year or so later, Tom's acting muscles were flexed even more when he played the villainous, but oh so sexy, Morgan in Romero's Knightriders (which was essentially a retelling of the King Arthur legend set on motorcycles).

Getting back into the makeup world, Savini's next two projects were Maniac and Friday the 13th, and while neither of these films would be considered much more than exploitation flicks, they featured some of the most astounding special effects ever seen.

Considering that none of these works featured CGI graphics, it boggles the mind that Savini was able to create such realistic visions of carnage using latex, plaster and condoms filled with stage blood. Dare I say it, this guy's a fucking artist!

Never one to rest on his laurels, Savini continued working and acting on films through out the 80's, his next milestone being George A. Romero's and Stephen King's homage to 50's EC comics, Creepshow, where not only did Tom supply the blood and guts, he also created a gorilla-like beastie who chewed up Adrienne Barbeau as well as crafting a life like body cast of actor, E.G. Marshall which exploded in a sea of cockroaches.

In 1990, Savini took on the daunting task of directing a re-make of Romero's Night of the Living Dead. With a script by Romero, Tom managed to add enough heart to this venture to actually make it as good as the original. Of course, there are dozens of little touches that the director added that made the movie more of a treat (like naming the abandoned farmhouse that our heroes take sanctuary in, "M. Celeste"). In my humble opinion, Tom's version of Night was miles ahead of Zack Snyder's bastardization of Dawn of The Dead in 2004.

Savini has also kept up as an actor showing up in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk till Dawn playing Sex Machine, another leather clad ass kicker with a rather pronounced cod-piece that doubled as a mini machine gun (yeah, really). In this film Tom worked along side such big names as Salma Hayek (as the vampire stripper with greatest name of all time,"Santanico Pandemonium"), George Clooney, and Harvey Keitel.

Savini also reprised his role as Blades (now a zombie) in Romero's Land of the Dead in 2005.

A few years back, Savini decided to get involved in a different kind of special effects, when he decided to whip himself back into shape. Well into his 50's at this juncture, Tom took part in the Muscle Media & EAS Physique transformation contest and well... let's take a look at this picture on the left from last year. That's Tom Savini at 60! Damn, he looks better than guys half his age.

Today at 61, Savini is still keeping on. He was most recently scene in the Planet Terror section of Grindhouse, and has reportedly just been cast in The Lost Boys 2 (and supposedly, Cory and Cory are also involved).

A few years back I almost had a chance to meet Tom at a horror movie convention. I missed him, but was lucky enough to meet and talk to George Romero (who is a genuinely nice guy, by the way), but I was disappointed that I did not get a chance to thank The Gore Master for all of his hard work and have him autograph my copy of Grande Illusions (Tom's book on movie makeup and special effects).

Maybe next time.

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