Tom Savini was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 2, 1946. As a boy, he drew inspiration from Lon Chaney, who was renowned for his ability with make-up. He even name his children, a boy and girl, Lon and Chaney after his hero. His ability to transform himself using techniques he developed earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces." Savini experimented with whatever he could find and would try to scare his friends. Eventually, he even got some of his friends to let him practice on them. He attended Point Park University for three years before enlisting in the United States Army.
Savini served as a combat photographer in Vietnam! His job was to capture damage done to vehicles, machines and even people. He saw some hideous things threw his camera, and to cope with it he had to think about it as if they were special effects. He continued to practice with makeup in Vietnam, often frightening the locals by transforming his face into a horrendous beast. His tour of duty in Vietnam eventually lead to his style in film. He used what he saw in war, and translated it to the big screen.
Tom worked heavily with another legend in his own right, George A. Romero. He got his big breakthrough on Romero's film Martin, creating a wrist-slashing scene (above) that looked authentic. From there he exploded, working on Romero's Dawn of the Dead the following year and creating the signature zombie bites and severed limbs. Numerous films followed including Friday the 13th, Maniac, and Creepshow! Savini earned the nickname "The Sultan of Splatter" during this time.
However, Savini isn't a one trade wonder. He is the only man in Hollywood who can claim all four titles of stuntman, make-up artist, actor, and director. The only other man to come close to this was his childhood hero and idol, Lon Chaney. He never intended to be a stuntman, it just happened when the crew wasn't hired on the set of Dawn of the Dead. One of his most known acting roles might be in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn, where he played the unforgettable Sex Machine. A biker with a belt gun and a bad ass vampire killing whip. He also directed a remake of Romero's Night of the Living Dead in 1990, which was his feature film directorial debut!
Savini now has a make-up/special effects school in Monesson, Pennsylvania. He uses his own haunted house for his students to perform and work in. Of the students he's had, Greg Nicotero is a huge name that now stands out. Nicotero learned his skill under the watchful eye of Savini and has developed to the leading man for make-up and special effects in Hollywood. Many view this as a passing of the torch from one legend to another. Tom continues his phenomenal efforts in film today, with his film Nightmare City releasing this year. We can't wait to see what amazing effects he'll create for our eyes to feast on.
Savini is undoubtedly an icon of his art and will forever be a legend. With his admiration of legend Lon Chaney and Greg Nicotero under his wing, we cannot wait to see the next legend of make-up effects.