Tapert first become involved with filmmaking while attending Michigan State University. He intended to study economics, but was drawn into film courses by his roommate Ivan Raimi's brother Sam. Sam Raimi had been making films of his own in his native Michigan for many years, usually with his brothers Ivan and Ted, and Raimi's childhood friend Bruce Campbell. Ultimately, Sam Raimi and Tapert decided that they should make a film together.
The result of this endeavour was The Happy Valley Kid, the story of a young man, played by Tapert, who goes to college, only to be met with rejection at every turn. Near the end of the film, he loses his mind, dresses up as a cowboy, and begins gunning down all those who wronged him. Despite its seemingly serious plot, the film is largely a comedy. The film was screened at Michigan State several times, and made a profit for Raimi and Tapert. This spurred them onto the idea of making a feature film.
Ultimately, when this feature film was produced, it was a graphic horror film titled The Evil Dead, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell. Thanks to a glowing review from author Stephen King, the film was a wild success with the crowd at the Cannes Film Festival in France, despite not enamouring other critics. The film was successful enough to spawn two sequels, Evil Dead II and Army Of Darkness.
Tapert has also produced numerous other films, typically involving Sam Raimi and/or Bruce Campbell in some capacity, such as Crimewave, Easy Wheels, Lunatics: A Love Story, Darkman, Timecop, The Gift, The Grudge (and its sequel, The Grudge 2) and 30 Days of Night.