Tom Savini

Active - 1972 - 2020  |   Born - Nov 3, 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States  |   Genres - Horror

Share on

Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

Dubbed "The Godfather of Gore" for his brilliant make-up and special effects work on countless horror movies, Tom Savini has grossed people out as the guy behind the gore on films ranging from Friday the 13th to Night of the Living Dead to Quentin Tarantino's From Dusk Till Dawn.

Developing an interest in magic and illusion as a child, when he was inspired by the 1957 Lon Chaney biopic Man of a Thousand Faces, Savini spent most of his youth in his room, inventing characters and experimenting with make-up techniques. After studying acting and directing at Carnegie Mellon University, he went to Vietnam as a combat photographer for the Army; ironically, he would later gain fame for simulating on the screen the same kind of carnage he witnessed first-hand during the war.

Savini first began working as a make-up and special effects man on horror movies during the early 1970s. Some of his more notable work during that decade and the subsequent years includes George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Day of the Dead (1985), Friday the 13th (1980), the Creepshow series, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Dario Argento's Trauma (1992), a 1995 re-make of Romero's Night of the Living Dead, which Savini also directed, and Tarantino's From Dusk Till Dawn (1996).

In addition to his make-up and special effects work, Savini has a number of acting and directing credits to his name on the stage, screen, and television. He has also written a number of books about his trade and has been the subject of the documentary series Scream Greats.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • As a teen, performed in an acting troupe that entertained movie-theater patrons during intermissions; and worked for free as a makeup artist and monster designer for a Pittsburgh TV station's Chiller Theater show.
  • Spent three years as a combat photographer for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War; says that his experiences there have influenced his films.
  • Made his feature-film directorial debut with a 1990 remake of Romero's horror classic Night of the Living Dead.
  • Released two books on creating makeup effects: Grande Illusions: A Learn-By-Example Guide to the Art and Technique of Special Make-Up Effects from the Films of Tom Savini in 1983, and Grande Illusions: Book II, in 1994.
  • Is an instructor in the Special Make-Up Effects program at the Douglass Education Center in Monessen, PA.
  • No longer creates special effects for movies, but continues to focus on his career as an actor and director.