Tony Todd and Mick Garris: Two Horror Icons, One Birthday

Waylon JordanHorror HistoryLeave a Comment

December 4th might seem like just any other day, but horror fans have two reasons to celebrate the day. Tony Todd and Mick Garris, two men who have helped shape the modern face of horror, were born, three years apart, today.

Garris, born in 1951, was already making 8 mm films on his own by the time his parents divorced when he was 12 years old. He moved with his mother to the San Fernando Valley where he cultivated his taste in both films and music which would later serve him as he began to write about both.

By 1980, he was directing “making of” featurettes for films like The Howling and The Thing, further honing his skills an interviewer for which he is also deservedly well known.

By the end of the decade, this genre Renaissance man had written for “Tales from the Crypt” and “Amazing Stories” as well as Psycho IV: The Beginning, which he also directed.

Todd, meanwhile, was carving his own path. The 6’5″ actor was born December 4, 1954 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut where he began to study theater.

After two years at the University of Connecticut, he received a scholarship to study at the Eugene O’Neill National Actors Theatre Institute, and it seemed there was nothing he could not do.

In 1986, Todd made his feature film debut in Sleepwalk, a fantasy film directed by Sara Driver.

Could either man have known what the changing of decades between would bring?

Garris found himself in the director’s chair in a growing working relationship with Stephen King directing the big screen release Sleepwalkers before taking the reins on the mini-series adaptations of King’s The Stand and The Shining. It was during this time that he also wrote the story on which Hocus Pocus was based.

Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald in Mick Garris’ adaptation of The Stand

Todd, whose voice and stature seemed ready made for genre work, began the 90s with a began, starring as Ben in the remake of Night of the Living Dead. He then took on titular role in Candyman, the big screen adaptation of Clive Barker’s The Forbidden, co-starring Virginia Madsen.

Tony Todd was the Candyman!

As the 2000s dawned, Todd took on the recurring role of Bludworth, the menacing undertaker in the Final Destination franchise, and Garris was directing Riding the Bullet. The two men had, at this point, circled each other professionally for quite some time, but had yet to collaborate on a project.

That didn’t happen until Garris developed the Masters of Horror television series, an anthology series with genre legends like John Carpenter, John Landis, Stuart Gordon, and Garris himself each directing their own one-off episodes.

It was in this series that Garris and Todd finally combined their considerable talents to create the episode titled “Valerie on the Stairs” based on a story by Clive Barker.

Garris wrote and directed the episode and Todd made an appearance as The Beast in the terrifying tale of a novelist despairing over her anonymity who finds that there are far more serious things to fear.

Since that time, the two have continued their busy careers with Garris writing and directing as well as producing his Post Mortem Podcast in which he interviews the men and women who have helped shape the genre and Todd working almost without stopping between television, film, and theater.

It has been more than a decade since “Valerie on the Stairs”, though, and we here at iHorror wonder when the two might find themselves on the same project again!

Until then, we wish both Tony Todd and Mick Garris a happy birthday, and we encourage our readers to revisit both men’s work to celebrate this auspicious day. We certain will be!

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Waylon Jordan is a lifelong fan of genre fiction and film especially those with a supernatural element. He firmly believes that horror reflects collective fears of society and can be used as a tool for social change.