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Tom Spina Designs
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Tom Spina Designs
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Tom Spina Designs
What happens when a guy’s man cave is designed to be just that? Literally a cave, chock-full of movie-themed horrors? Prepare yourself...
Step into horror film aficionado Wesley Cannon’s cave featuring some of the most terrifying creatures from the silver screen.
Cannon knew precisely what he was looking for when he commissioned special effects artist Tom Spina to transform two rooms in his North Carolina home into a literal man cave—one with rock walls, sedimentary fixtures and all the requisite paraphernalia to simulate a chamber of horrors chiseled out of an underground cavern.
Spina, with his New York-based company, Tom Spina Designs, specializes in creating custom sculptures, mannequins, unique-themed furniture and decor, and the restoration of film props and costumes. Spina and his staff of artists also create entire themed rooms and home theaters.
Spina has been, as he says, “building stuff—like puppets and masks and monsters” from a young age. His early creative spark led to, among other things, a college internship with Jim Henson’s legendary Muppets puppeteers. From there, Spina took his particular genius to his own puppeteering studio before ultimately founding Tom Spina Designs in 2004.
Although Wesley Cannon himself prefers to stay out of the man cave limelight, Spina was happy to talk about his fanciful creation—without that is, giving away its specific location.
“Let’s just say it’s in North Carolina—not too far from Raleigh,” Spina told us when we caught up with him on a recent Friday afternoon. True to his profession, the masterful mannequin maker was just finishing up adding fur to a lion, a task that’s probably fairly routine for him, but, for most of us, not so much.
Spina says that the pair of rooms he and one of the key foam sculptor artists on his team, Richard Riley, built for Cannon is the first man cave they’ve fabricated to look like a real cavern. “I guess it had always been a dream of Wesley’s to create a home theater that was an actual cave,” Spina explains. “To anyone else that might seem an unusual sort of thing to request, but around here it made perfect sense.”
Horror seekers visiting Cannon’s cavern enter the first of two rooms, a dark, foreboding antechamber that gets visitors into the spirit of things. It leads them into the second chamber, a warmer, yellow-hued space that’s the heart of Cannon’s man cave media suite. Adorned with ominous-looking pipes, faux stalactites and rock furniture, the whole effect is like a cross between the Flintstones’ prehistoric Bedrock abode and a movie set from one of Vincent Price’s 1960s’-era horror films.
Aside from being a space for entertainment, the rooms serve as a permanent museum display for Cannon’s eclectic movie memorabilia collection—which includes one of Freddy Krueger’s gloves from “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and, similarly, a hockey mask that the murderous Jason wore in the “Friday the 13th” franchise.
Spina says that Cannon’s a pure, devoted collector. “Yes, Wesley’s got the bug, for sure,” he points out. “There’s a pretty large community of people out there who collect original movie memorabilia—beyond movie posters or action figures or T-shirts or whatever might be available. I’m talking about someone who collects actual props and costumes that were used in the making of their favorite films. There’s something really cool about being able to hold something in your hand and look at it on-screen and say ‘Yeah, this is what I’m seeing in one of my favorite movies.’”