Hi folks. Savini here.
I have to admit, when Aaron first contacted me about writing a Foreword for Horror 101, it sounded like an easy task. After all, I’ve been involved in the art of making people scream and/or gag (preferably both) since the early 70s, and been a fan of the genre myself for even longer than that.
But when I sat down before the keyboard, I found myself at a bit of a loss as to what to say. After all, in my line of work, I prefer to show people my ideas and passions rather than just talk about them. So, I called up a few of my old friends to talk shop, noodle a few ideas, get the, ahem, juices flowing as it were. And in the course of our conversation, it occurred to me – not for the first time – just how much horror movies have meant to me and what an influence they’ve been on my life. In fact, horror movies are my life, my livelihood, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My earliest genre memories date back to when I was a six-year-old lad being taken to the cinema on Saturday mornings. Starting around 9am, my older sister Rose and I would plunk down our quarters, grab our popcorn, then settle into the lumpy theater seats to watch 17 cartoons, a couple of serials, tons of previews and finally, a double feature of horror classics like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man or Abbott and Costello Meet…well, all of them. Around 4 or 5 in the afternoon, we would stumble from the darkened theater, our blinking eyes surprised by the fact that such a thing as sunlight still existed. (Today, just try to get someone to sit through a double feature. Sigh. Those were the days…)
Growing up, there was a part of me – a big part of me – that honestly believed the monsters I was encountering on a weekly basis really, truly existed. Then, one Saturday when I was 11 years old, I saw Jimmy Cagney playing the immortal Lon Chaney in the movie that changed my life forever: The Man of a Thousand Faces. I suddenly realized that for every monster, there was someone behind the scenes who created them and from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to be that someone. I hurried to the library, found books on makeup and began experimenting at home on family and friends. Nothing has been the same ever since.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Even though I’m now one of the monster makers, I’m still hypnotized and enthralled by horror movies. To be blunt about it, horror films and monster movies have come to mean everything to me. Since childhood, they’ve transfixed me, motivated me, and even saved me from a complete emotional breakdown when I was a combat photographer in the Vietnam War. As I looked through the lens of my camera at horrible physical atrocities, I tried to just think of them as special effects, and wondered how I could later create what I was looking at. It would prove to be an invaluable lesson in anatomy, death and real horror.
Obviously, I prefer pretend horror, which leads me to the book you hold in your hands. The cinematic art of creating monsters and suspense and scares, followed by the relief of getting up from the theater, stepping back into the sunlight…then finding someone else to talk to about it. This is exactly what Dr. AC and his enthusiastic band of blood brothers (and sisters – horror chicks rule!) have brought to the table with Horror 101. Flipping through these pages has been a pleasant walk down memory lane – a lane that is cold and dark, mysterious and terrifying, good and gory.
Sounds like fun, right?
Hopefully, Horror 101 reminds you, as it did me, of the special thrill that horror films and monster movies can provide – the sense of wonder that hypnotizes and enthralls audiences of all ages. Whether you’re a horror veteran or just learning how good getting good and scared can be, you’re in for a real treat. And that’s quite a trick.
Pittsburgh, PA USA
It’s Tom and Aaron: