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Copyright © Kitley's Krypt
2013 RONDO AWARD
Kitleyís Krypt: How did you get started in makeup effects?
Tom Sullivan: I
was watching the original KING KONG at age five with my four year old brother Mike
and when the giant gorilla and dinosaurs showed up a bolt of lightning struck me
and I knew making movies and monsters was what I would do for a career. So I
just started doing it.
KK: How did the EVIL DEAD job come about?
TS: Sam Raimi
and Rob Tapert had been in talks with the leading make up artists in the
business but discovered that they would actually have to pay them. I was
drugged and beaten. And then we made history.
KK: What exactly was your involvement with EVIL DEAD?
TS: I was
Creator of Special Effects Make Up, Uncredited Art Director, Uncredited Prop
Creator of the Dagger and Book of the Dead. I also performed as the Demon arms
bursting out of the melting Cheryl and Scotty in the Evil Dead finale.
KK: What about EVIL DEAD 2?
TS: I built
and animated the Demons, Books of the Dead and Book being written opening
sequence. I created the new Lost Pages and Books of the Dead for stunts and
Glamour shots (they were never returned to me after filming). I animated the
Henrietta head that pops up in the basement scene. I animated Bruce's hair
turning white. I animated the withering flower at the beginning of the vortex
scene. I designed built and animated the Flying Deadite at the finale. I also
appear for about 12 frames at the Airport
TS: Rob Tapert called when AOD was beginning and said they had lost the Books of the Dead (they never returned) and needed me to create another for the film. They needed it rushed so I spent three days making another and off it went. Three months later I was wondering where my check was and Rob told me their Art Director said they needed another bigger book because Ash had to get sucked into it. They made a derivative cover and pasted together four of my pages to make one big one for the interior. I got a big credit and did get my check.
KK: As for the work you did in EVIL DEAD, did you have a lot of time for pre-production, or was there a lot of "on-the-spot" work?
TS: I had about two weeks with Sam's script to break it down, figure out how I might do them, and buy the supplies. There was a rushed face casting session with the actors in Sam's parentís basement. That was a pretty messy. The make up designs were for the most part made up as needed. I'm glad it worked.
KK: What were the working hours like on EVIL DEAD?
TS: UGGGHHH! During my work on the picture it was running the whole time. Thatís how it was for everybody on the film. And thatís pretty much it for the film industry. I worked for seven months average of 6 days per week including Prep and production time.
KK: Is there a certain effect or prop that you are most proud of?
TS: Without a doubt my favorite prop is My Book of the Dead 1 and 2 and Lost Pages (ED2). As far as I can tell it's the first unreadable book. There was the Voynich Manuscript but thatís had progress in deciphering. I based the text on the ancient language of Bullscript. Coded message-script into the text on ED2. The Anchor Bay DVD Book is all coded. I had to draw the original in the late hours during production of EVIL DEAD (then Book of the Dead) usually while talking with Josh Becker about movies.
KK: What is the best thing you remember from the making of EVIL DEAD?
TS: That I survived it and am proud of my work considering the conditions. That and hearing applause twenty-three years later.
KK: What is the worst thing you remember from the making of EVIL DEAD?
TS: I tend to empathize too much with people. So when the actors were uncomfortable and that could go to extremes, I felt hyper responsible. Not that there was a lot I could do. Make up is fun for the first hour. For weeks on end it becomes torture. That has not changed. A lot of actors are really suffering for their Art (see Carrey in Grinch).
KK: While making EVIL DEAD, did anybody ever think it would become as popular as it did, or was the feeling of more of just making a little film project?
TS: I had a
fair understanding of the odds against what Sam, Bruce and Rob were trying to
do. And it's to their credit the film actually got finished. It took three
years to get it into theaters and a lot of films don't last that long. I recall
the general feeling from everybody during production was that if it played in
some drive-ins in the south for a
KK: What other films have you worked on?
TS: THE FLY
2, the sequel to the Jeff Goldblum film. That was working with real
professionals on a big budget film and I learned a lot. One of the things I
learned was I was getting diminishing returns of satisfaction on my creative
KK: Care to expand on that?
TS: By "diminishing returns" I mean that my role as an artistic collaborator or significant contributor to a film was being reduced in the bigger films. I was getting more satisfaction, illustrating and having something specific to point at and say I did that. I am working on building my own Production studio.
KK: Any particular effect that you worked on in THE FLY 2?
TS: I sculpted about 60% of the Fly 2 creature's head based on Chris Walas's superb design. I also sculpted with Howie Weed, the Cocoon and with Howie and Jon Berg (the Great) on the screwed up dog. I helped out with mold making and some creature fabrication.
KK: What are your thoughts about Anchor Bay's newest edition of EVIL DEAD? Weren't you supposed to have a commentary and / or featurette on there as well?
TS: I am
pleased with my work and overwhelmed by it's reception. The project got so big
and expensive, things had to get cut.
personally think that Anchor Bay has released enough versions of the movie. Fans
are getting really pissed off of having to buy the newer version, since it has
something new on it. I know people would like to hear more about the film from
you, and the ladies from the film, and others, but enough is enough. I think
your idea of a documentary is much better. I think they could make a nice 2-3
hour documentary about the film, and that would be much better received by the
fans than yet another version on DVD.
KK: Who or what were some of your influences?
TS: I mentioned Harryhausen, O'Brien and Frazetta, Jim Danforth, Dick Smith, Rob Bottin, Stan Winston, ILM, and Karel Zeman.
KK: I heard that you might be releasing your own Book of the Dead. Can you give us some more info?
TS: I have
been creating replicas of my Book of the Dead from the original Book's pages and
a new cover sculpting since the original is a glob of butyl rubber. I have had
valued assistance from my talented and resourceful friend Patrick Reese. He is
also an EVIL DEAD historian. I improved the cover and it's now what I wish it
could have been with pre-production time. The original cover was a slush rubber
latex casting of one of the actors faces and glued onto a piece of corrugated
cardboard. Instant movie history. It melted over ten years ago.
KK: Any other new projects?
TS: My company DARK AGE PRODUCTIONS is publishing archival prints of my artwork from my EVIL DEAD
collection and my Lovecraft years as well as lots of new stuff.
KK: Can you elaborate a little more? What type of stories are they? Horror? Sci-Fi? Lovecraft?
TS: Horror, Action, Adventure and very Lovecraftian. I've always wanted to do a stop motion Lovecraft film since my
association on the never produced "Cry of Cthulhu". I love CGI FX but I have
some ideas for stop motion and digital composition. I think Lovecraft will work
with the eeriness of stop motion.
KK: You've been doing the 'convention circuit' the last couple of years. How do you like it?
TS: I enjoy
the conventions a lot. So much so I have put together Tom Sullivan's Movie
Memorabilia Museum. It features the props, photos, masks and Artwork I created
for the films. I sell prints and talk shop with Fans.
KK: Thanks Tom for taking the time to talk to us.
TS: Nice talking to you, take it easy.