CLIFF: On the Internet movie database it only credits you for make-up on The Evil Dead and animator on Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn. Is there anything that they left off?
TOM: As for the “lost” credits. It’s another perk I earned for a busting butt for Renaissance Pictures. I really admire these guys and the fact that they’ve created their own opportunities and succeeded so well. But On ED1 and ED2 I also created the Book props, The Dagger (With Mike Trcic and Brian Rae Sculpting the Blade on ED2, I did the hilt). But who’d know? I designed, built, and animated the Deadite at the ED2 finale, and the opening sequence of the ghosts and book writing sequence with experienced animator and cameraman Larry Larson and Assistant Brian Rae.
I also did the Henrietta head popping up animation shot with Larry Larson’s camera work. Larry and I worked on all the animation. I had a company with Bob Mees called Illusion Engineering and I did my stop motion with the Stop Motion Armatures we produced. Saving the productions thousands of dollars. I did a lot more stuff too. Although the Deadite sequence in ED2 is short, it works. But it is only a shadow of what I’d hoped it could have been. Basically, there was to be a Harryhausen-like battle between the Deadite and the Knights. Then Ash dispatches the critter.
Sam insisted on shooting the background plates himself and ignored most of the very complete and expert set of do’s and don’ts for making superb background plates. Larry Larson had carefully prepared a list for Sam out of his considerable knowledge and expertise. We tried but we were not allowed at the set. As a result, almost all the footage was unusable. I don’t get it, but we sure tried. Rob Tapert had a meeting with Larry, Brian, and me, and informed me because of space limitations, I couldn’t have a credit for longer than one word. And when the film came out, some other effect guys had lists of their specific work in the credits. I don’t know what happened. I feel slighted for my 10 months of hard work and the variety of crucial props and Effects I’d created for both films, but never credited for, like the book and dagger. I also was the unpaid, uncredited Art Director on “The Evil Dead.” Ren. Pics said its reasoning was that having one person’s name repeated a couple of times in the credits would make it appear like it’s a low-budget picture.
There is a common thing to happen in film careers, not that the film causes it, but I chose to stay in North Carolina and Detroit for almost 11 months on ED2 rather than work on my marriage in California, unlike my choice on ED1. I had heard some rumors ever since “Evil Dead” that there were bad feelings regarding my leaving. Obviously developed by persons who weren’t aware or didn’t care that I had involuntarily sacrificed so much effort for Sam and Rob. I asked Rob about the rumors and he said he knew nothing about it. With all this intrigue and with the luxury of second-guessing I’d have chosen differently now.
Penny came to North Carolina to let me know she wanted a separation. It was amicable and she worked as my assistant for the week she was in Wadesboro, NC. The plus side was that Sam graciously put her in the movie. She is seen disembarking the airplane at the early airport scene in ED2. She is the shorthaired blonde wearing a rust-colored blouse and is shouldering her carry-on. She was really proud of that. Thanks, Sam. Actually, if you look closely you can see Rob (Rip) Tapert, Dave (Goody) Goodman, and me, portraying the blue shirt baggage handlers. After I finished ED2 and was living back in San Francisco doing Artwork for Chaosium Inc, Penny took a holiday (delayed for a year because of my ED 2 work) with a girlfriend and drowned with another longtime friend of ours when a sailboat capsized during a sudden storm on Traverse Bay in Michigan. Her girlfriend was the only survivor.
CLIFF: Have you done any other films than just the ED films?
TOM: The death of Penny pretty much knocked the crap out of me, but I pulled it together enough, several months later, to work at Chris Walas Productions on “The Fly Part 2”. But, after a year and a half in San Francisco without my wife, I was too depressed to deal with the big city alone. I moved back to Marshall Mich. and had been doing Artwork for Chaosium Inc’s Role-playing game books till I suffered a serious closed head injury in 1992 which I am now just recovering from and finally at ramming speed again.
Is there an “Evil Dead” curse at work here? Fortunately, none of this ever affected the quality or development of my artwork, but the quantity declined. Interesting isn’t it, the journeys one has in pursuit of dreams. I was reading in a magazine about how some people can actually make a living off their artwork. I’m starting a publishing company that will be creating Replicas, and collectible Art Prints called DARK AGE PRODUCTIONS. My partner in DARK AGE PRODUCTIONS is arcane genius, Patrick Reese. We’ll be producing artwork and prop replicas, among other things.
Watch our site for information regarding upcoming events. Our fancy website with all the cool stuff will be ready as soon as we can get it together.
I am planning an Auction of Memorabilia from my collection for early February on eBay. Fans will not want to miss this. I’ll be available for questions, comments, autographs, and more, at the Cinema Wasteland Movie Memorabilia Expo 2000 (Strongsville, Ohio, September 15, 16, & 17,2000) find out more at Videowasteland. If you are a fan I want to meet you. I’m bringing lots of show and tell. I’ll be having an exhibition of some of my movie memorabilia, reminiscing about my adventures in film, and I’m going to talk to anyone that will listen.
I don’t get out much, so, if you’re going to be in Ohio, come on in and visit. I’m trying to talk The Cinema Wasteland Management into holding a raffle to see which fan’s face will be on the next Book of the Dead. Sorry anesthesia is not in the budget. Try your luck!