An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
Just like me, as a kid Tom Savini was a great fan of Lon Chaney, the silent cinema's "Man Of A Thousand Faces" who transformed himself into numerous grotesque characters such as "The Phantom Of The Opera" and "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame." Unlike me, Savini did a lot more with his interest in monster make up than just buying a rubber Creature From The Black Lagoon mask and chasing cats around the house, and that's why next April 7 Savini will be greeting thousands of his fans in Cleveland, Ohio for Savini Thon 2000, a convention created to pay tribute to the man whose horrific art has perhaps outdone even Lon Chaney's. Meanwhile I will be in my apartment chugging Robitussin and trying to make an Al Gore mask out of a grocery sack and some tuna fish.
Eh, I can just see all you "cool" people sittin' around right now sneering about what a dork you'd have to be to go to such a thing as Savini Thon 2000. Why, I oughta . . .
Excuse me, I'm sorry . . .The biggest difference between a Lon Chaney horror movie and a Tom Savini one? Why, BLOOD N' GUTS, of course! While this is a big plus in Chaney's favor taste wise it should also be pointed out that, unlike Savini, Chaney was never drafted and sent to Vietnam. Savini was there as a US Army combat photographer and witnessed a lot of things that he has since been able to share with us through the art of special effects make up. According to legend young Tom found his life's calling with the discovery of a dead hand which had just enough life after being ripped off of the arm for its fingers to have dug into the dirt it landed in. Too bad there wasn't a piano around.
Tom was back home in the USA he just sat around on his ass belly achin'
like some jerk in a Bruce Springsteen song, right? No way, man! At first
glance it would seem that Tom Savini is all about Scary Monsters And Super
Creeps, but even a brief look at his life reveals that what Our Hero is
really all about is Work, Work, Workitty, Workitty, Work. Once back from
the war our battle hardened Man O' Action threw himself into the rugged
world of North Carolina regional repertory theater - Acting, directing,
choreographing, set building, light designing, ticket selling, refreshment
serving, and -of course- applying all kinds of crazy make up on top of
the helpless faces of some very nervous amateur thespians. Tom remembers
his philosophy in those days as "The more you do, the more you get to
do." Is there still any repertory theater over in North Carolina now that
Tom's not around to do all the work? I dunno. Anyway, all this may not
have been as prestigious as going to Film School, but who needs that shit?
George Romero never went to no candy ass Film School, but he still made the most frightening movie of all time: "Night Of The Living Dead", a film so disturbing that if you still haven't seen it I'm not so sure I can recommend it to ya. Aw hell, go rent it and play it all alone really late at night so me and the other Acid Logic guys can sneak up to your house, bang on the windows, and scare the crap out of ya. A genuine "Made In The USA Original Who Will One Day Be Revered From Sea To Shining Sea", George Romero made this masterpiece out of almost enough cash to buy two Super Deluxe Pizzas and a six pack of beer, mucho hands-on experience producing TV commercials and industrial films in Pittsburgh, and a great big ol' stack of E.C. horror comics from the nineteen fifties. I saw "Night Of The Living Dead" one night on the local UHF station when I was twelve and I've been a nervous wreck ever since. I'll tell ya right now, if the dead start coming back to life and walking around eating people, I'm going home and you people can write your own web zine, okay? Later!
No horror movie will ever match "Night Of The Living Dead", but when Romero finally gave in to demand for a sequel with "Dawn Of The Dead" he went in a different direction and came up with a satiric apocalypse that steamrollers anything those silly people like Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante ever created and rivals Stanley Kubrick's best work in its black humor, visual style, and lots of other stuff I write long sentences about when I've had too much coffee.
The difference? Tom Savini! Savini is everywhere in this movie - Romero cut him loose as an actor, stunt man, make up man, special effects specialeffectualist, and LAWD HAVE MUSSY! does he deliver the goods. Among the sights for sore eyes our one man Stalingrad supplies - A berserk cop blasts a man's head off with a shotgun, a zombie has the top of his skull sliced off by a helicopter blade, a zombie maintenance man attacks one of the heroes who plucks a screwdriver off of the zombie's tool belt and shoves it into his ear, a zombie's head is split in half with a machete, an entire army of outlaw bikers are ripped to pieces and eaten by the ravenous living dead, and - Just for all you high tech freaks in the audience - a guy smashes up a color TV set with a sledgehammer. Romero originally planned to end the film by having the pregnant female lead throw herself into the same helicopter blade that scalped that zombie earlier but, he was either overcome by a sudden fit of good taste or Savini was too sleepy to figure out a way to do it. Anyway, there is no mystery why Romero had to go to Europe to get the money to bankroll this thing.
What elevates "Dawn Of The Dead" from the usual splatter slapstick is that it is as much about mourning as it is about killing. There is nothing campy about the violence in this movie; zombies may be dead people but they are still people and having to endlessly shoot and chop them up in self defense brings the living nothing but regret and remorse, inflicting an emotional double whammy on the viewer. Not that it's a total bummer, mind you. Hey, if it's true that "When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth" that's at least a step in the right direction, right? Right? Huh? Huh? After his big break with "Dawn Of The Dead", Savini has worked on eight hundred and seventy six thousand other motion pictures, most notably "Creepshow", the George Romero-Steven King E.C. Comics tribute in which Savini plays a saber tooth monkey monster who gobbles up Adrienne Barbeau, and the obscenely underrated "Dusk Til Dawn" in which Savini, Quentin Tarentino, and Harvey Keitel watch Salma Hayek, Queen Of The Vampires, dance around bare assed naked and turn into Blood Sucking Creatures Of The Night. That this film is not an internationally recognized classic is yet further proof that people have been listening to too much U2 and R.E.M. and not enough Van Halen and ZZ Top. Oh, yeah, and Savini worked on Romero's "Day Of The Dead" but that was pretty much whipping a dead horse. That's what they should do in the next one, whip a horse until it dies and then keep right on whipping it until it comes back from the dead and starts whipping on them for a change. Yeah, that sounds good. I want a treatment on my desk by Friday.
But it is Savini's directorial debut with the 1990 remake of "Night Of The Living Dead" ( Romero had to produce a remake of his own movie due to business reasons of such astounding stupidity music industry executives must have certainly been involved ) that shows us what really keeps Tom Savini tickin'. Surprisingly less gruesome than might be expected, Savini's "Night Of The Living Dead" differs from Romero's chiefly in its treatment of Barbara, a young woman who witnesses her brother's death at the hands of a zombie in the opening of both films. Barbara Romero spends the rest of the movie sitting on a couch overwhelmed with fear until zombies finally break in and eat her as easily as a grilled cheese sandwich. On the other hand, no lame ass dead guy is gonna eat Barbara Savini! Once she gets over that little bit of unpleasantness at the beginning of the movie, she gets right up off of that couch, arms herself to the teeth, and goes marching off into the night killing every zombie in sight. I believe it was at the World Premier of this movie that the popular phrase "You GO, girl!" was created. If America had been able to summon this kind of spirit back when the original "Night Of The Living Dead" was produced we would have won the war in Vietnam and managed to REALLY put a man on the moon. And it sure doesn't hurt that Savini's Barbara is played by the lovely and talented Patricia Tallman (Oh, you've never heard of Patricia Tallman? Great, then I get to go out with her while you're sittin' around lookin' at pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts. Ha!).
So, take a lesson from Tom Savini, kids, and don't waste any more time sitting on your butt worrying about anything, just go on out there and do something for cryin' out loud! And those "cool" people who never do anything but sit around sneering at anybody who's trying to really do something - They are the real Living Dead and Saleeby says it's high time we gave em the Savini Treatment.
Hey, you think Patricia Tallman will be at Savini Thon 2000? I'll be there!
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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