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Thomas Vincent "Tom" Savini is an American actor, stuntman, director, and award-winning makeup and special effects artist. He created and developed the special effects and theatrical makeup used in many famous horror films including Friday the 13th, Night of the Living Dead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

He has been nominated for two Saturn Awards for his work in the special effects field. He won one of the two awards for his work on Day of the Dead.

Early Life[]

Tom Savini was born of Italian descent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was raised as a Catholic and graduated from Central Catholic High School. As a boy, he was inspired by actor Lon Chaney Sr. He attributes his first desire to create makeup special effcts to Chaney's film Man of a Thousand Faces. He experimented with whatever mediums he could lay his hands on, first practicing on himself, and then later, his friends. During this experimentation, he discovered his passion for acting. He used to combine his makeup applications and acting skills to scare his friends. After high school, he attended Point Park University for three years and then enlisted in the United States Army. He acted in stage productions during college and after his return from his tour of duty in Vietnam!

Savini served in Vietnam as a combat photographer during the war. He told a local newspaper from his hometown that it was his job to take photographs of damaged machines and injured people. He says that he thought of it all as special effects makeup as a way to cope with the horrors he saw. He continued to practice his special effects makeup in Vietnam, scaring peasants who said he could turn into a monster at will. Savini later said that his experiences during the war influenced his style of makeup gore.

After his tour of duty, he attended Carnegie-Mellon University as the first undergraduate to be given a full fellowship in the acting and directing program. During his time at the university, he developed a special talent for fencing, which has been reflected in his acting and stunt work in various films. He also became accomplished with a bull whip. As such, many of his characters have been bikers and madmen who are hardened against the world.


Makeup and Special Effects[]

Tom Savini is primarily known for his work in special effects makeup. His realism has been said to liven films whose plots are otherwise dull and uninteresting. Early on in his proffesional career, Dick Smith, who created the makeup effects for The Exorcist, became both a guide and inspiration on Savini's work. He later became an associate of Savini's Special Makeup Effects Program at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen, Pennsylvania.

Savini got his first breakthrough working with filmmaker George A. Romero, who is famous for the living dead franchise. For Romero's first film Martin, Savini created an extremely realistic wrist slashing effect. In the following year he created his trademark zombie makeup effects for Romero's Dawn of the Dead.

In 1980, he expanded his repertoire of blood and gore makeup effects when he worked on Friday the 13th. He perfected the techniques he developed there on another film later that year entitled Maniac. After his work on the 1981 films The Burning and The Prowler, he was nicknamed "The Sultan of Splatter." In 1982, he developed the makeup effects for the film Creepshow, which was based on a Stephen King novel. In 1984, he finally agreed to return to the Friday the 13th franchise and created the effects for Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, where he killed Jason Voorhees. In 1985, Savini returned to the world of the undead and won a Saturn Award for Best Makeup Effects for his work on Romero's Day of the Dead. He moved on however, to slasher films again in 186, where he worked with director Tobe Hooper on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

In the early 90's, Savini worked with Italian film director Dario Argento on his films Two Evil Eyes and Trauma. He also worked with director John A. Russo on his 1991 film Heartstopper.


Savini also acted in many of the films he created effects for. His first appearance was a small part in Romero's film Martin. For Romero's Dawn of the Dead, he played a hardened biker named Blades, a role which he reprised in zombie form in Romero's 2005 film Land of the Dead. In the 1980 film Maniac, he had a brief role as a victim of the main antagonist, who shot his head off with a shotgun in a huge display of blood and gore. He had a much larger and more important role in Romero's next film Knightriders, as a biker named Morgan.

In 1996, he played one of his most famous roles as the whip-wielding, vampire-fighting biker called "Sex Machine" in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's film From Dusk Till Dawn. He used the same costume from his character Blades from Dawn of the Dead for this role.

Savini took on a minor role in 2007 in Planet Terror, one of the two stories in the Grindhouse film directed by Robert Rodriguez. He played the character of Deputy Tolo who fights to save his town from an infestation of zombies. He played the character Osiris Amanpour in another Rodriguez film entitled Machete, which was based on a fake movie trailer that played during the Grindhouse film.

Throughout his career, Savini has made appearances in many films. He has had cameo roles in Lost Boys: The Tribe and the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. He had larger roles in films like Zombiegeddon, where he played Jesus Christ, and Sea of Dust, where he portrayed Prestor John. In 2008, he made a brief appearance in the film Zack and Miri Make a Porno as a slumlord. Savini later voiced himslef on The Simpsons in the episode "Worst Episode Ever." In 2012 he appeared as a shop teacher in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and later as one of the trackers in Django Unchained.

Savini also appeared in the currently unreleased project The 4th Reich, a nazi zombie film, in the role of SS-Standartenführer Oskar Dirlewanger.


Savini started his directing debut with episodes of the syndicated television series Tales from the Darkside. In 1990, he directed the color remake of and the pilot episode of the television series The Chill Factor.

He announced his plans to direct a new film entitled Death Island in 2009. This film would have special makeup effects by Savini's formere protege Greg Nicotero. In 2011, he directed "Wet Dreams," which is one of the segments in the horror film The Theatre Bizarre. Savini announced in 2013 that he was returning his focus to Death Island and started a crowd funding project on Indiegogo for the film. He had planned to start filming by the end of 2013. The project's current status is unknown.

Horror Filmography[]

Tom Savini has an extensive filmography within the horror genre. As such, it has been separated into his acting credits, his special effects credits, and his directing credits.


This list contains all of the films that Tom Savini has acted in. Many of them are also in the list of films that he has contributed his special effects talent towards.

Year Film Role Notes
1977 Martin Arthur First film with George A. Romero
1978 Dawn of the Dead Blades
1978 Effects Nicky
1980 Maniac Disco Boy
1982 Creepshow Garbage Man #2
1985 The Ripper Jack the Ripper Direct-to-Video
1987 Creepshow 2 The Creep
1990 Two Evil Eyes The Monomaniac (uncredited)
1992 Innocent Blood News Photographer
1996 From Dusk Till Dawn Sex Machine
2001 The Monster Man Uncle Joe
2001 Web of Darkness Rouge
2001 Children of the Living Dead Deputy Hughs
2002 Eyes are Upon You Eddie Rao
2003 Blood Bath Stranger
2003 Zombiegeddon Jesus Christ New York City Horror Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award
2004 Vicious Kane
2004 Dawn of the Dead The County Sheriff Remake of the 1978 film Dawn of the Dead
2004 Death 4 Told Man Cameo
2004 Unearthed Victor Tonelli
2005 Forest of the Damned Stephen
2005 Land of the Dead Blades (Zombie)
2006 A Dream of Color in Black and White Caddy
2006 Beyond the Wall of Sleep Sheriff
2006 The Absence of Light The Higher Power
2007 Grindhouse Deputy Tolo Segment: "Planet Terror"
2008 Silent Vengeance Daniel Phillips
2008 It's My Party and I'll Die if I Want To Uncle Tom
2008 Lost Boys: The Tribe David van Etten Sequel to the 1978 film The Lost Boys
2008 Sea of Dust Prester John
2010 The Dead Matter Sebed
2010 Horrorween Killer
2012 The Theatre Bizarre Dr. Maurey
2013 The 4th Reich SS-Standartenführer Oskar Dirlewanger

Makeup/Special Effects Technician[]

This list contains films that Savini has done special effects and makeup work for. It is very similar to the above list of his acting credits.

Year Film Notes
1972 Deathdream
1974 Deranged
1977 Martin
1978 Dawn of the Dead Nominated: Saturn Award for Best Makeup Effects
1980 Friday the 13th
1980 Effects
1980 Maniac
1981 Eyes of a Stranger
1981 The Burning
1981 The Prowler
1982 Creepshow
1982 Alone in the Dark
1982 Midnight
1984 Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
1985 Day of the Dead Saturn Award for Best Makeup Effects
1986 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
1987 Creepshow 2
1988 Tales from the Darkside Episode: "Family Reunion"
1988 Monkey Shine
1990 Two Evil Eyes
1991 Blood Sucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh
1993 Trauma
1993 H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon
1997 Cutting Moments
2001 Web of Darkness
2011 Death from Above
2012 Redd Inc. (Inhuman Resources)


This is the list of Savini's directing credits.

Year Film Notes
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 TV, one episode
2011 The Theatre Bizarre Segment "Wet Dreams"

External Links[]