Directed by Jason Baker, Smoke And Mirrors: The Story Of Tom Savini is just that. The documentary tells the story of the actor/director/producer/stuntman/special effects make-up guru from his childhood growing up poor to his lasting impact and legacy on the film industry. Considering how prolific the beloved icon was, can Baker successfully cover everything in a mere 91-minutes?
Happily, the answer is yes. The filmmaker interviews several people, from fans to colleagues and family members to the people Savini grew up idolizing. The interviewees include, but are not limited to, Savini’s daughter Lia (a fine actor in her own right), Robert Rodriguez, Tony Todd, Bill “Chilly Billy” Cardille, Alice Cooper, and Doug Bradley. Every person who comments about Savini all say the same thing: he’s dedicated, a true talent, and just about the nicest guy anyone will ever meet.
“…a fascinating glimpse into one of the most iconic special effects make-up artists and filmmakers of our time.”
While the interviewees are all engaging and fun, the true heart of Smoke And Mirrors: The Story Of Tom Savini lies with Tom Savini himself. Yes, the legend is on hand to spill his guts out and get the story as accurate as possible. While it’s common knowledge amongst fans of his work that Savini considers make-up to be a form of magic, hearing him express it alongside images of his most iconic works is itself a bit magical. It is also interesting to find out how he sort of fell into being a make-up artist, as his first love has always been acting.
Throughout it all, the filmmaker ably paces each piece, ensuring that one tale smoothly flows into the next moment, even if it has a downer ending (say, a divorce). But the most interesting technical element of Smoke And Mirrors: The Story Of Tom Savini is the inclusion of interstitials as transitions. Since the subject grew up watching and loving the classic silent horror films, Baker’s decision to use them really helps audience members get into the subject’s view of the world and the cinematic arts.
Smoke And Mirrors: The Story Of Tom Savini is a fascinating glimpse into one of the most iconic special effects make-up artists and filmmakers of our time. It is quite thorough yet never repetitive, as every minute is utterly absorbing. Baker has successfully merged a biography with a behind-the-scenes look at movie magic.
"…engaging and fun..."