This is admittedly a long way around to the Tar Man in “Return Of The Living Dead” (1985) but I felt that some backstory
would help in explaining its origins. ROTLD was shot more in a horror comedy vein and although a few nods are made towards Romero's original handiwork, it departs significantly in its tone and delivery. These zombies are fast, talk and plan so they really
aren't that much different than humans aside from the brain eating part. I'm not that much of a fan of the film because I found it pretty silly coupled with very hammy performances though I suppose that was the look they were going for.
The film takes place in a medical warehouse operated by a pair of idiots who inadvertently open a 55 gallon drum containing one of the zombies,
the fumes of which infect the idiots and a number of the medical specimens in the warehouse. What emerges (after a bit) is our Tar Man, which I'm trying emulate here. Although the film's Tar Man spends his time in the basement of the warehouse, I thought I'd
give it a different take by having him (or a version of him) stumbling about a toxic waste dump. I should point out the I'm not the first modeling this setting so my thanks to those that went before.
The first step in this build was to get my hands on a model skeleton. I have a couple Visible Man models but these were a bit too large standing roughly sixteen inches tall. I
ended up using a very nice detailed model put out by Learning Resources which stood a tad over nine inches. It had to be assembled but the parts fit together well with the added bonus of being almost fully articulated which made it pose able.
After I got the skeleton model posed the way I wanted, secured the joints with AC glue. I then made very crude clothing out of an old T shirt
of mine to simulate a dress suit. Since neatness didn't count in this instance, I frayed the pant leg bottoms and sleeves with an Xacto knife allowing the knee and elbow joints to poke through. I then cut a 8 inch length of string which I unraveled to give
me about a dozen strands which I placed on the figure similar to how it appeared in the film. I should mention that I painted the strands with a 50/50 mixture of Mod Podge and black craft paint BEFORE I applied them to the Tar Man just to make handling and
placement easier. The pants, coat and sleeves were all painted with the Mod Podge mixture as well after I glued them in place with AC glue.
The Tar Man eyes were a pair of porcelain beads I had that I painted white with a iridescent blue iris. The tongue was a small lump of two part epoxy clay that I painted iridescent red for effect.