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Grande Illusions: The Art and Technique of Special Make-up Effects

Grande Illusions: The Art and Technique of Special Make-up Effects

Original Books I & II

From The Films of Tom Savini


AuthorMike Dark Ink – 2013
ISBN-13: 9780988446892
286 Pages, $24.99 

Back in 1983, there was one thing I wanted more than any other…Tom Savini’s book Grande Illusions.  It was the extraordinary autobiographical/how-to-do special make-up effects tome that every follower of his splatter had to have.

Believe it or not, I never read his follow-up book Grande Illusions II, but now that’s changed because AuthorMike Dark Ink has put the two books together as one.

If you are a fan of horror movies, especially the films that the Italian-American Pittsburgh based effects artist lent his artistry to, then you must get your copy of this book.

By reading Grande Illusions you will learn intimate details behind all of Savini’s films, with numerous behind the scenes photos.

Each movie becomes a chapter and for me I just dove into the text and priceless photographs from; Deathdream, Deranged, Martin, Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th, The Burning, The Prowler and Eyes of a Stranger.  Not only is this cool for fans of his movies but if you want to learn how the special make-up effects were achieved, Savini describes them in painstaking detail.

He talks about how he designed the inventive zombie mayhem for Dawn of the Dead, Mrs. Voorhees on screen retaliation in Friday the 13th, the hard-hitting carnage in Maniac (which I rate as the strongest impactful gore to this day), the burnt look of “Cropsy” in The Burning, his amazing monster featured in “The Crate” segment of Creepshow (whom he calls “Fluffy”).

In Grande Illusions II Savini breaks down his benchmark of extreme gore in Day of the Dead, his cannibalistic bloodshed for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, the primates he contributed for Romero’s Monkey Shines, his creative skill to Romero & Dario Argento’s Two Evil Eyes and so much more. 

Grande Illusions comes as a coffee style book featuring both eye opening color and black and white pictures.  Stephen King and George A Romero write forwards that are incredibly revealing additions.

AuthorMike Dark Ink continues to deliver important published work that not only enriches the available content for fans of the genre but provides educational text for aspiring effect artists and filmmakers alike.





On the Cheap: My Life in Low Budget Filmmaking



On the Cheap: My Life in Low Budget Filmmaking

By Greydon Clark

Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
453 Pages, $24.95




First of all, I think it was a really cool idea that Greydon Clark choose to write this book in screenplay format.  It immediately puts you in movie mode, which is appropriate since Clark has made 20 films spanning several decades in an assortment of genres. 

What’s most enjoyable about On the Cheap: My Life in Low Budget Filmmaking is that it’s the real story of a filmmaker who somehow was able to keep making movies in one of the most difficult industries.  He accomplished this without ever having a big name or backing of a major Hollywood studio.  The fact the he could make films so quickly yet still have them come out as good as they are, despite the limitations, speaks volumes about the man.

I  also came away impressed with Clark’s passionate yet logical approach talking to his cast & crew.  After his cinematographer Dean Cundey shot Halloween, Clark asked him back for one film (Without Warning) and then wished him well; knowing Cundey would become one of the top cinematographers in the business, which happened.

There’s some great stories about working on his pictures (Bad Bunch, Black Shampoo, Joysticks, Russian Roulette to name a few) with some famous well known actors that would surprise you.  Everything wasn’t always rosy either as a stuntman died on one of his films and money or lack of, was almost always an issue.

Another testament to Clark’s fortitude is that he never had a big-hit movie.  What this proves to me is that his movies were successful enough to enable him to keep making more.  This is no small feat.  Plus I love hearing about the underdog, the independent filmmaker survive and thrive amongst a ruthless business.

A big reason why he was able to keep making more movies was the unwavering support he got from his late wife Jacqueline Cole.  Without hesitation she would agree to second mortgage their home so that Greydon could keep making films.  That took big time guts and total trust that her husband would make the film good enough that they would get their money back and keep their home.

I also liked in the end what Clark says to anyone considering film directing as a profession.  His words are remorseless, hard and sing the biting undeniable truth.

Most of you have probably never heard Greydon’s Clark’s name or seen any of his films.  You might have unknowingly caught some of his TV work, which has been pretty prolific for many years now.  But you’d be doing yourself a favor by picking up this fascinating book and then checking out his movies.

As a cool bonus, when you order a book for $24.95, you will receive one DVD from Greydon’s personal library at no charge.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack



Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Music by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth


Alan Howarth Incorporated – 2007

Let’s get something straight.  The music for Halloween III: Season of the Witch is one of the best soundtracks for a movie ever made.  If it’s not the best score in the Halloween series, then it comes in second right behind Halloween.  I personally think it’s one of the most underrated scores in cinema history.

This Limited Edition (1000 units) consists of; the original soundtrack (first 12 tracks) and thirteen never before released bonus tracks (the last 13 tracks).

The Original Soundtrack

“Main Title” establishes a dark serious atmosphere from the first swiping keyboard line.  The composition builds to match the computerized image of the pumpkin seen in the opening credits of the film.  A brooding keyboard churns under higher synthesized parts that flicker and pixilate like the onscreen Jack-O-Lantern.

Alan Howarth says in the linear notes, “Using cutting edge technology of the day, we would play our synthesizers with synchronized audio and video tape and build tracks of musical elements; this was before digital sequencers and sampling”  You can really hear this advanced technological approach in the composition of “Chariots of Pumpkins.”  There’s a cool propulsive keyboard line that amazingly brings to life the adrenaline of Harry Grimbridge (Al Berry) being chased down by the mysterious men in business suits.  One of the most interesting parts of this cue (listen carefully), is the slow tap of the tambourine, which sounds related to Escape From New York.

You definitely get the sense of traveling during “Drive to Santa Mira.”  The music is kind of light and airy, yet conveys the destination may prove to be troublesome.

There is sternness to “Starker and Marge.”  In the end, you hear the full release of terror these characters experience from watching the Silver Shamrock commercial, while wearing the deadly Halloween masks.

The pounding of the high metallic instrument over the deep throbbing keyboard line in “First Chase” certainly influenced the composers’ music in Christine.

You sense danger coming from “Robots at the Factory.”  The underlining drone brings considerable menace to the cue.

My daughter loves hearing “Halloween Montage.”  This is the audio blurb, narrated by Director Tommy Lee Wallace that supports the Silver Shamrock commercial.  It has a bunch of kids singing “Happy, Happy Halloween” with circus-like instrumentation and a clap-track to provide a form of percussion.

“Hello Grandma” has gloomy synthesizers that swirl around clanging metal hits and high register strings.  It’s actually the longest piece on this entire soundtrack running just short of five-minutes.

“The Rock” looms large, like the massive pillars from Stonehenge.  Carpenter and Howarth give the composition not just atmospheric importance but are able to create history, an audio back-story of sorts to support the prehistoric monument.

When I listen to “Challis Escapes”, I can visualize Tom Atkins character searching out Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) and breaking free of Colonial Cochrane’s (Dan O’Herlihy) evil clutch.  This track has the composing duo’s signature of low synthesizers augmented with deep pounding drums, metal like high strikes and gyrating keyboard lines.

“South Corridor” teeters along the edge of suspense as high-pitched keys inch along the border of anxious uncertainty to the outcome.

The final curtain call of the original soundtrack comes in the form of “Goodbye Ellie.”  Darkness drifts from the music condemning the characters to certain doom.

The Bonus Tracks

I’ve got to say “Hey Boom” is one of my top-5 movie music tracks of All-Time.  The first low keyboard always extends down grabbing me by the balls.  There’s something powerful about the lowest parts of the harmony getting your full attention, putting you on alert to the immediate threat of danger.  But this isn’t the only reason while this cue rules.  The way tension is racketed up is expertly constructed with multiple layers of synthesized elements working in conjunction to make it more and more frightening.  When you combine this music with Dean Cundey’s expertly lit cinematography and camera movement during this scene; where the robot business man kills Harry Grimbridge with his bare hands in the hospital, then walks out to blow itself up in a car, cements its cinematic greatness.

“Mask Test Tone” is a dark stroke from the composers.

“I Really Love This” plays along the lines as “Drive to Santa Mira.”  It’s got that traveling aspect, which comes from the clomping-like musical steps moving within.

There is a pensive mood to “Local Boy, No Way.”  Audio stingers strike during “The Factory” to let you know it’s not just a Halloween mask facility.

Tension drifts over “I think Its Time.” 

The Man Who Killed” has to be supportive of Colonial Cochrane.  It’s got this wicked composition of keyboards working in unison to make you fear him.

A heavy dark drum thumps “A Pleasure Doing Business.”  The music makes it seem like there is no hope for tomorrow and that the end of the world is near.

“Halloween III Close/Open” is just that.  The same cue that supports the beginning credits, wraps the closing titles as well.

The classic Carpenter/Howarth high tension sound hovers above ‘Where Is She?”  Then the duo concocts a series of electronic instrument embellishment to punctuate the piece.

“It Will Be Morning Soon” takes the music movement of the previous tune further along toward the hopeless future.

“Stonehenge” is sold as rock with keys that scale up its large dimension to give you a sense of its grandeur.

There’s nothing funny about “I Do Love A Good Joke.”  Scalding synthesized notes jab like a molten-hot tipped fire poker to the belly.  Deep keyboards enforce the seriousness of this film about Gaelic Festival Samhain and dark witchcraft.

Altogether Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is 67-minutes of movie soundtrack magnificence.