Paradise CCO Dies Gruesome Celluloid Death
“Wanna see me die this weekend?”
When that ominous phrase appeared in the subject line in a email from our Chief Creative Officer, Tom Merrick, some Paradise staffers rushed to his office for an intervention, others looked up phone numbers for hotlines, and a few of us mused, “Working here’s not that bad.”
We fully expect Tom to be alive and well come Monday. As it happens, he invited one and all to see him die a gruesome death on screen this Saturday.
Tom’s college roommate Greg Lamberson has become something of an icon of underground horror/gore cinema, producing and directing several films and writing a series of books. His first film, “Slime City,” became a cult classic among 1980s horror movie fans — especially those with a fondness for unalloyed gore and low-budget special effects.
On Saturday, Aug. 20 starting at noon, the Tampa Pitcher Show will screen “Slime City’ and its 2010 sequel, “Slime City Massacre,” back to back.
Tom Merrick has a role in both movies. Back in his early filmmaking days, Lamberson tapped his buddy for a part in “Slime City.” “I played the bumbling best friend of the main character,” Tom said. “The main character who squashes my head like a melon.”
For the sequel, Tom plays a different role (obviously) but ends up with the same fate (butchered).
Tom’s appearance in “Slime City” did not propel him to stardom nor stir some irrepressible acting bug. So he moved on — to advertising. He started in a small agency as the assistant to the Creative Director, and spent the next 27 years becoming one himself.
In his early 40s, the lifelong punk-rock and metal fan picked up a guitar, took some lessons from a friend, got better but not great, and formed a band called Crankdaddy with colleagues from his ad agency in Syracuse.
Tom evolved from hammering out three chords to writing punchy three-chord songs. And singing them. Crankdaddy played a few short years’ worth of gigs in and around Syracuse and as far away as New York City. Tom convinced Lamberson to let the band write and record a song that runs over the end credits of “Slime City Massacre.”
After suffering through the brutal upstate New York winter of 2014-’15, Tom tapped out. He and his wife moved to St. Pete. He took over the creative reins at Paradise. Bought a house with a pool five minutes from the office.
Crankdaddy is no longer.
But Tom Merrick will forever live on in gore yore.
Tom will reunite with Greg Lamberson at the Tampa Pitcher Show double feature. Greg, Tom and another actor from “Slime City Massacre” will do an audience Q&A. Fans of cheesy gore shouldn’t miss it.
What: “Slime City” and “Slime City Massacre” Double Feature Event
Where: Tampa Pitcher Show, 14416 N. Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa
When: Saturday, Aug. 20, Noon