The Godfather of Gore, actor and FX master Tom Savini.
A bit of disclosure is required before I get into the subject of this post, horror FX master Tom Savini and his sick set of trading cards from 1988. As a bonafide horror junkie seeking no cure for my habit, I’ve been a super-fan of Savini since 1980 after seeing Friday the 13th and bearing witness to his relentlessly realistic special effects style. To this day the original Friday the 13th is one of my favorite films, and I never get tired of seeing a young Kevin Bacon getting murdered while kicking back post-coital with a joint. Will these kids never learn that having premarital sex and smoking doobies will kill you? Hopefully never, but I digress.
For those of you not as well versed in all that is Tom Savini, let me help you understand the vital role he has played in the realm of horror films since the 1970s. After acting and helping to create the special effects for several films, Savini got a gig working for another godfather of the horror genre, director George Romero, doing makeup for the vampire flick Martin. Romero would then engage Savini’s services again for 1978’s game changer, Dawn of the Dead, sealing their long working relationship. After this, Savini and his penchant for blowing up horror movie victim’s heads would be seen in nearly a dozen films including 1980’s Maniac, where Savini (as his character Disco Boy) got to blow off his own dome after failing to make it in a car with a hot chick covered in glitter.
According to Savini, the horrific things he saw during his three-years as a combat photographer in Vietnam have driven his desire to achieve “anatomical correctness” as it pertains to his masterful FX work. This is not meant to imply Savini entered into his line of work because of the gruesome stuff he witnessed in Vietnam, but what that experience gave him was the ability to create authentic, realistic effects—a talent Savini has elevated to a high art form during his long career. Even as a vegetarian, I can’t help but admire one of his most colossal cinematic moments (to me anyway) from 1985’s Day of the Dead. Using a good portion of the 44 pounds of pig entrails obtained from a packing plant, Savini—assisted by another FX guru—Greg Nicotero, the death of the evil Captain Rhodes (memorably played by actor Joseph Pilato) is one of the most decadent demises in zombie-movie history, and I will arm-wrestle anyone trying to convince me otherwise.
Now that you have a good sense of the line of work Tom Savini is in, please enjoy a look at the highly collectible NSFW set of Grande Illusion Trading Cards featuring some of Savini’s FX work up to 1988. I’ve also included a few images from Savini’s 2013 book,Grande Illusions: Books I & II.
A card from the set showing Savini at work doing the makeup for actor Ari Lehman (Jason) in 1980’s Friday the 13th.
The image in the middle of the last row in this photo set is of Savini in character as Morgan from George Romero’s bonkers 1981 modern medieval-themed motorcycle flick, ‘Knightriders.’
The final card in the 61 card pack featuring Savini surrounded by a few of his creations.
Images of Savini’s work from the 2013 book Grand Illusions: Books I & II.” Some include Savini himself at work and in makeup.
Savini blowing off his own top in 1980’s ‘Maniac.’
The death of Caption Rhodes in 1985’s ‘Day of the Dead.’
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Special FX horror makeup god Tom Savini profiled in new documentary
George Romero wanted ‘Lady Aberlin’ to star in ‘Night of the Living Dead’ but Mr. Rogers said ‘no.’
‘Cannibal Girls’: The naked ladies of this gory, sleazy 1973 horror spoof like to eat men
‘Jigoku’: The brilliantly grim Japanese horror film about Hell
Hellraiser: The Macabre Art of Horror Master Clive Barker