Q&A with Tom Savini

Cult Projections: Apart from Lon Chaney, who else inspired your move into the art of illusion? 

Tom: Houdini, Jack Pierce, Dick Smith, Rick Baker, Rob Bottin.

CP: Looking back on your extraordinary career is there a particular period or collaboration that you’re especially fond of?

T: Yes, my collaboration with George Romero.

CP: Do you have a personal favourite of the movies you’ve worked on?

T: Creepshow, Day Of The Dead, and From Dusk Till Dawn.

CP: What has been the most grueling movie to work on? Why?

T: Creepshow. It was five little movies, and it was just me and my 17-year-old assistant Daryl. 

CP: What were your first thoughts when you started to see special effects makeup being replaced by CGI in horror movies? How did you bridge this dramatic shift in the industry?

T: I love CGI when it is done well...it became a very useful tool. The best effects are a combination of CGI and practical.

CP: The horror movies of the mid-70s to the mid-80s are considered the golden age of the modern horror movie. And now many of those cult/classic films are being remade. You remade Night of the Living Dead back in 1990, and you have a remake of Nightmare City in the works, if you were given the opportunity to direct another remake of your choice, what would it be?

T: It would be what I intended to do with Night of the Living Dead.

CP: Zombies, werewolves, vampires, demons, beasts, mutilated bodies … Do you have a favourite creation?

T: No … they are all my children.

CP: Outside of your own work, name three special makeup effects sequences or creations that you consider benchmarks of the art.

T: Rob Bottin’s work in The Thing, Rick Baker’s on An American Werewolf in London, Dick Smith’s on The Exorcist.

CP: Any young, up-and-coming practitioners in the art of special effects makeup you would single out for their talent? 

T: There are way too many.

CP: What is the most important element in a horror movie that a budding director should adhere to?

T: That the best scares come from suspense. Any idiot can jump up and yell “Boo!” 

CP: If you had to pick three horror movies of the past fifty years to be put into a time capsule as representative of the cinematic genre, what would they be?

T: Frankenstein, The Exorcist, and Alien.

CP: How’s the Nightmare City remake coming along? Any other projects you're working on? 

T: They are rewriting Nightmare City, and I just did six episodes of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series.

CP: Thanks Tom!

Smoke and Mirrors: The Tom Savini Story screens as part of Sydney's A Night Of Horror International Film Festival, Friday, November 25th, 9pm, Dendy Cinemas Newtown.