Horror Digital  

Go Back   Horror Digital > Reviews > Laserdisc Reviews

Latest Poll
What's your favorite Christopher Lee Horror Performance?
Count Dracula
Dacula AD 1972
Dracula Has Risen From the Grave
Dracula: Prince of Darkness
Horror Express
Horror Hotel
Horror of Dracula
Howling II
Rasputin the Mad Monk
Scars of Dracula
Scream and Scream Again
Taste the Blood of Dracula
The Curse of Frankenstein
The Devil Rides Out
The Gorgon
The House That Dripped Blood
The Mummy
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll
The Wicker Man
Other (specify in thread)
Who's Online
There are currently 0 members and 61 guests. Most users ever online was 2,642, 04-12-2015 at 05:18 PM.
 Thread Rating: 10 votes, 5.00 average.
Old 10-07-2004, 02:25 PM
Scored: 10
Views: 12,937
Scream Greats: Tom Savini

Reviewer: Paff
Review Date: September 21, 2002

Released by: Paramount
Release date: 1986
MSRP $??.?? (OOP)
Full Frame 1.33:1

In the late 70s, the horror film got a massive makeover with the rise of the "splatter" film. While gory scenes had been done before, it was films like Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th that made realistic and extreme bloodletting a requirement of horror cinema. On the forefront of this gore revolution was makeup special effects wizard Tom Savini. In 1986, Fangoria magazine introduced their line of "Scream Greats" videos with a Savini documentary, produced by Paramount on videotapes and laserdisc. While this laserdisc can be hard to find, it's essential viewing for any Savini fan, or any horror fan for that matter.

The Story

Well naturally, there is no story, since this is a documentary. What you get is interviews with Tom Savini and the people he's worked with, along with clips from his movies. Tom's love for makeup came at an early age when he was exposed to the work of Lon Chaney. His career began in earnest after the Vietnam War, when he worked with George Romero on the films Martin and Dawn of the Dead.

Savini was a driving force behind the slasher craze of the early 80s, and we see clips from Friday the 13th (Parts 1 and 4), Bill Lustig's infamous Maniac, and lesser known slashers The Prowler and The Burning. There is also a little at-home with the Savini family, where Tom demonstrates (on his wife!) the use of squibs to simulate gunshot wounds. This provides a nice segue into the extensive work involved to create Romero's last zombie epic, Day of the Dead.

Day of the Dead had some of the most graphic effects ever put on film, and we are treated to some great behind-the-scenes footage. Future effects whiz Greg Nicotero discusses the fun things he did with a model of his own head, and also relates the story behind the animal intestines that were used for some of the gruesome scenes in Day's blood drenched finale. And lastly, Savini's work as an actor (Knightriders) and a director (Tales from the Darkside) is profiled. Perhaps the most telling moment in the documentary is when Savini shows a puppet used in Tales From the Darkside and remarks, "Someday this will probably all be done with computers." That day is now Tom, and it's not for the better.

inline Imageinline Image inline Imageinline Image
inline Imageinline Image inline Imageinline Image

Scream Greats: Tom Savini is a wonderful and entertaining documentary. Perhaps the only faults I noticed were the misspelling of Greg Nicotero's name, and footage from Friday the 13th Parts 2 and 3, which Savini did not work on. Other than that, this is everything you wanted to know about Tom Savini (up until 1986 of course. He still continues to do fantastic work both behind and in front of the camera). George Romero shares some great comments on working with Savini, and former Fangoria editors "Uncle" Bob Martin and David Everett discuss how horror fans reacted to his amazing special effects.

Savini certainly did not invent gore, or fantastic makeup effects. H.G. Lewis made incredibly gory films in the 1960s, and Dick Smith created amazing effects in The Exorcist (Savini cites Smith as a major influence). But Savini lent an aura of realism to the world of special effects makeup. Many 60s and 70s attempts at gore were more comical than anything, and the people like Dick Smith were attempting to turn fantasies into realities. But Savini went for the real thing. His work was meant to show violence and death as realistic as possible. Even in films with non-realistic elements (like Romero's zombie films), the focus is not on the zombie makeup, but on the victims as their insides are ripped and devoured. The victims in the slasher flicks are not dummies or fake heads, instead their demises are captured in a fashion that almost makes the viewer think he's just witnessed a real murder on screen. All thanks to Tom Savini.

This entire feature plays like a DVD supplement. What I would like to see someday is this documentary added as a supplemental feature on a DVD of a film that showcases Savini's work. Unfortunately, I don't think that's likely to ever happen, due to rights issues. This laserdisc was produced by Paramount, yet several of the films shown are now properties of other studios. But if those issues were ever cleared up, this would be a fantastic addition to the upcoming re-releases of say, Dawn or Day of the Dead.

inline Imageinline Image inline Image
inline Imageinline Image inline Image

Image Quality

A little history on the laserdisc: Laserdiscs were introduced in the early 1980s as an alternative to VHS and Beta. They employed the same audio/video quality and features as the videotape formats. It was the Criterion/Voyager company that advanced the technology in the 90s, with high quality widescreen transfers, multiple digital surround sound audio tracks, and bonus features. Laserdisc then became a format that appealed to serious film connoisseurs, and the stage was set for DVD to follow in laser's footsteps.

Why did I just go on with all that seemingly useless information? Well, this Scream Greats disc is one of those LDs that was of the same quality as a videotape. In fact, the only difference between this disc and a tape is that the disc won't degrade over time. That's it. The Savini and friends interviews are OK, but the film clips are dark and murky, reminding us of what life was like before remastered LDs and DVDs. One nice thing however is that this disc is in the CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) format, which means even entry-level LD players will provide perfect freeze frames and slow motion. Just bear in mind that the sharp detail and vibrant colors we've come to expect on videodisc formats will not be here.


Needless to say, the sound is not spectacular either. Luckily since it's a documentary, the sound presentation almost solely consists of interviews. While you can hear those on-screen quite clearly, there is definitely a level of hiss and distortion. Again, the results of using a typical VHS-quality transfer. The only use of surrounds is on the opening music theme.

Supplemental Material

Well, since this disc is a supplemental feature in itself, there are no extras to be found. And again, early laserdiscs did not even take advantage of the potential for extra features. Perhaps one day we'll be revisiting this documentary if it's ever added on as a supplement on some future DVD.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, the work of Tom Savini revolutionized the look of the horror film, and this documentary is a fabulous look at his early career. The downside is that this laserdisc is not easy to find. While you can check pawn shops and used dealers (that's where I found mine), if you want this disc you'll probably need to pay the high E-Bay prices. But since it's likely that the content on this disc may never appear on DVD, it may be a price worth paying.


Documentary - A+
Image Quality - C
Sound - C
Supplements - N/A

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 52 minutes
  • Color
  • Not Rated
  • 1 Disc
  • 18 Chapter Stops
  • Dolby Stereo Surround

  • N/A

Other Pictures



New Article
New Reply

Laserdisc Reviews
« Previous | Next »

Old 04-16-2008, 04:43 PM
I want a copy of this soooooooooooo bad.
Old 08-12-2008, 05:18 PM
I Have A Fetish
Tom Savini sells signed copies of this on DVD-R at his table at conventions.
Exercise. Eat right. Die anyway.

PS3 Gamer Tag: SaviniFan Steam Gamer Tag: ToastyBuffoon

My DVD Profiler
Old 08-17-2008, 05:00 AM
If you can imagine a "Tom Savini" in the area just above Nathan Grantham's hand, that's how the cover of my copy looks...
CINEMA PAFF - Your BB-Movie Showcase *

* - The extra B is for BYOBB

Paff's Laserdiscs
Old 09-02-2008, 01:10 PM
Tom has to be considered one of the most important elements of Horror in the 80's... his special FX brought to the screen a sense of realism never before seen in simulated death before. Where the Rick Bakers, Stan Winstons and Rob Bottins propelled monsters and make-up in an advanced direction. Savini created illusions that even the before mentioned Masters would be hard pressed to top. For any fan of Tom's this is a must have. You get taken into his home to meet his family, his playground and all the freinds and collegues he has around him. My favorite scene is definatly the one of him shooting his wife with squibs and the background footage of The Burning.


Posting Rules
You may not post new articles
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Main > Reviews > Laserdisc Reviews
All times are GMT +1. The time now is 11:21 PM.

Portal By vbPortal Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, vbPortal. All Rights Reserved.