SMOKE & MIRRORS: THE STORY OF TOM SAVINI (2021)
Wonderful documentary from Jason Baker tells the story of a true legend in the film industry, renown especially for his contributions to the horror genre, Tom Savini. The film tells the story of Savini growing up in a modest income family in Pittsburg and being influenced by his older brothers and his sister. It details his going to horror movies with his mother, seeing The Man With A 1,000 Faces and deciding from there he wanted to be a part of show business and started doing make-up FX and magic as a kid. It takes us to his harrowing time in Viet Nam and his discovery of a love of acting in theater upon his return home. We are told of his first collaboration with George Romero on Martin and then finally the fateful call from Romero to do the make-up FX for the classic Dawn of the Dead. From there we watch his career unfold as an actor, director, one of the greatest make-up FX creators of all time and a legendary genre personality. In between we get a lot of personal details about his life outside the movies and it builds a strong picture of the man behind the make-up.
Baker wisely tells the story from the words of the man himself, supporting Savini’s intimate details of his life and work with extensive photos and video from the legend’s personal life, along with behind the scenes and deleted scene footage from both his make-up work and acting roles. We also get interviews and anecdotes from many of those who worked with Savini, including George Romero, Tony Todd, Robert Rodriguez, Tom Atkins, Corey Feldman and even personal details from his daughter, Lia. It’s a must-see documentary about a true giant in the film and horror film worlds, not only for his fans, but anyone interested in a career in film. It’s a story of a man from humble beginnings who overcame a nightmarish experience as a combat photographer in Viet Nam and many personal hardships to become one of the greatest talents and beloved personalities in the movies, not to mention a true horror icon. Very highly recommended. Available to stream currently on Shudder and on 10/19/212 on VOD everywhere.