Michael, Jason, Freddy, Chucky, Victor...Art? While not an intimidating name, this clown is not out to make you laugh, he wants you dead.
Originally starting as a short by writer/director/special effects artist Damien Leone, the delightfully demented character of Art the Clown was just going to be a calling card. Leone put the short on YouTube and someone noticed it and thought it would be great for an anthology film called All Hallow's Eve which gave Art his first feature film appearance. From the beginning, Leone knew he had something with Art and forged ahead to get a feature funded. In between delivering flowers and persuading his friends to join him, he ended up with around $50,000 that got Terrifier in the can. Where this movie shines and what got eyeballs on it is Leone's special effects work. The gore in this flick is sure to satisfy the hungriest of gore hounds. What do you get? Well, I don't really want to spoil anything but I will say that, since this movie takes place on Halloween, there is a seasonally appropriate death along with Art doing his best Poo-casso if you know what I mean and I think you do. We also see Art attempt a magic trick and the less I say about this the better because you need to see this to believe it. While this movie is thin on plot, Leone pulls a page from Lucio Fulci's playbook and makes his kills the high points in his symphony of violence as the narrative serves as a connecting thread to each murder. The other star of Terrifier, Art the Clown, played with gleeful menace and irreverence by David Howard Thornton. He has the physical presence and facial expressions to pull of the mute menace that is Art. He is definitely the star of the show and Leone was right to persist in making this into a feature because there is something about this character that makes you unable to look away as he engages in jovial mayhem on screen.
Like most cult films, Terrifier persevered by word of mouth with horror fans spreading the gospel of its gore far and wide. This outlandish, over-the-top slasher wormed its way into our collective nightmares and we couldn't be happier. I love movies like this that have to get passed around like a dirty secret and you only know about it because your friend told you and their friend told them and so on. It's not a perfect movie and it's not trying to be. This is total party movie territory. Send in the Clown.
With the surprisingly successful crowdfunded sequel continuing to make waves in theaters nationwide, it felt like the right time for me to finally check out Terrifier. Art the Clown (Thornton) is already considered a slasher icon of this generation thanks to two films that push the envelope and give zero fucks about what the audience can handle. You can feel the microbudget of this first film, but it's never once detrimental to the film, which is so lean and mean. Basically, two friends run afoul of a clown on Halloween night, unaware that this clown is on the verge of a total massacre. The body count rises and things get bloody very quick.
The film opens with one of Art's survivors going crazy and crushing someone's face. Then, we meet Tara (Kanell) and Dawn (Corcoran), two drunk college girls who encounter Art at a pizza joint in our first super creepy scene. Art slashes their tire, causing Tara to call her sister Vicky (Scaffidi) for help, but Art gets them first. What he does to Dawn is one of the most vicious kills I've ever seen. Leone knows how to spend his budget properly, because that looked freakishly real. The rest of the movie is loaded with subverted expectations and freaky imagery.
I totally get the fervor for Terrifier 2. The franchise potential was obvious from the start. Horror fans wanted more Art. This is one of those little films that could; a modern indie horror classic that is destined for greatness.