Revisit: Tom Savini on Letterman



Tonight, David Letterman signs off, leaving a late night legacy that began in 1982 on NBC with Late Night with David Letterman. Now a legend, Letterman’s 33 years in nightly broadcast talk show were alternately pioneering in late night comedy, and carrying a tradition of those that came before, including Steve Allen and Johnny Carson. Similarly, his long roster of guests included up-and-comers, as well as fixtures and legends of entertainment. One such recurring caller was FX maestro Tom Savini, who in the 80s horror heights, found himself on Letterman a number of times, performing all manner of FX and gore gag on the host and proving to be a delightful foil to Letterman’s grouch persona.

Appearing on Letterman to promote films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Creepshow 2 and Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, Savini’s stints on Letterman speak maybe to a time when FX magic was more highly valued, but also when it was the star of the horror show. That’s not to mention Savini’s natural charisma coinciding with stellar artistry. His wonder and wizardry at masks and handmade blood splatter is hilarious rubbing up against Letterman’s acerbic, skeptical, mischievous personality. Letterman repeatedly interrupts and delays Savini, questioning the FX and horror films in general in a frustrating, dad-like manner. It proves truly funny when the FX artist would then put Letterman under duress by burning the host’s hand, or blowing blood off the back of his head, or putting a Tales From the Darkside mask (from the Savini-directed “Halloween Candy” episode) over his skull.

Collected below are Savini’s Letterman appearances currently available online, which include Letterman’s head shot, as well as FX work like Grandpa Sawyer and the skull slice from Texas Chainsaw 2.