No, it's not Jackson Pollock's birthday. Whose blog do you think you're reading?
Today Tom Savini turns 62 years old. While there are many talented FX artists with a large body of work that includes a number of classic films, Savini's name is up there with Dick Smith for recognition among the fans. It is perhaps because Savini made himself a more visible face by taking on stuntwork and acting roles in films as well as providing makeup and gore. It made him into a sort of Rennaisance Man of horror movies in the fans' eyes. His name is practically a brand, and is enough of a part of pop culture that he even once appeared as an animated character on The Simpsons.
The film that first really caused the horror fans to stand up and take specific notice of Savini was George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Romero's epic follow-up to Night of the Living Dead was notably dripping with blood and gore, and when the guy most responsible for that gore was also running around with a leather jacket and a machete in the film, the gore fans fell in love. Then, Fangoria Magazine came along and poured gasoline on the fire, covering Tom Savini like the teen magazines followed Leif Garrett or Corey Haim. If you were a young horror movie fan in the 1980s, you wanted to be Tom Savini.
Only 10 days from now marks 31 years since the original Dawn of the Dead began filming at Monroeville Mall. So it makes sense to celebrate Tom Savini's life and career as well as one of his most cherished contributions to the horror genre. Today's Dark Destination is Monroeville Mall. The mall is getting a lot of press recently. A week ago it played host to Zombie Fest and this past weekend the new Kevin Smith film Zack and Miri Make a Porno opened in theaters. The mall is used as a setting in the film and Tom Savini has a cameo in it as well. Simpsons...now Smith...Savini's name shows no danger of fading from pop culture anytime soon.
PS: A special thanks goes out to photographer Astrida Merritt (pictured above with her fellow zombies in 2007) for her donation of Monroeville Mall photographs for our entry at the web site. We love it when people share their photos of Dark Destinations with us!