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Promotional release poster
Directed byDamien Leone
Written byDamien Leone
Produced by
  • Damien Leone
  • Phil Falcone
  • George Steuber
CinematographyGeorge Steuber
Edited byDamien Leone
Music byPaul Wiley
Distributed byDread Central Presents
Release dates
  • October 2016 (2016-10) (Telluride)[1]
  • March 15, 2018 (2018-03-15) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$76,376 (Russia)[3]

Terrifier is a 2016 American slasher film written and directed by Damien Leone. The film stars Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, David Howard Thornton, and Catherine Corcoran. The plot centers on partygoer Tara Heyes (Kanell) and her sister Victoria (Scaffidi), who become targets of the enigmatic serial killer only known as Art the Clown (Thornton) on Halloween night.

It is the first film in the Terrifier film series and the second feature-length film to feature Art, following the horror anthology film All Hallows' Eve (2013). Leone wrote the film specifically as a means of showcasing the character of Art and his practical effects work—such as the controversial hacksaw death scene. Leone has expressed regret for leaving the protagonists underdeveloped. Leone filmed Terrifier on a low-budget of $35k. It had an Indiegogo campaign, although it ultimately did not reach its goal.

Mike Giannelli, who portrayed all prior incarnations of Art, retired from acting before production began, and Thornton replaced him as Art. It premiered at the Telluride Horror Show Film Festival in October 2016 before being picked up by Dread Central Presents and Epic Pictures for a limited theatrical release in March 2018. The film received mixed reviews, with praise directed towards the special effects and the portrayals of Kanell and Thornton, while the writing was subject to criticism. The movie quickly became a cult film.[4] A sequel, Terrifier 2, was released on October 6, 2022.[5]


A man is watching a small TV where Monica Brown, a talk show host, interviews a severely disfigured woman, the sole survivor of a massacre that took place the previous Halloween. Brown mentions that the body of the killer, known only as "Art the Clown", disappeared from the morgue, suggesting he is still alive. However, the disfigured woman insists she saw him die. The man, revealed to be Art the Clown, furiously kicks the TV and fills a garbage bag with bladed objects. After the interview, Monica talks to her partner on the phone and makes disparaging remarks about the interviewee because of her appearance. The disfigured woman, who'd been eavesdropping, attacks Monica and gouges out her eyes, laughing maniacally.

On Halloween night, two friends, Tara and Dawn, leave a Halloween party, and encounter Art the Clown. He follows them into a pizzeria and makes advances at Tara, unnerving her. He is soon after roughly escorted from the premises by the restaurant owner for smearing his feces over the bathroom walls. The girls leave the pizzeria to discover that one of Dawn's car tires has been slashed, and Tara calls her sister Vicky to come pick them up. Meanwhile, Art returns to the pizzeria, where he mutilates and kills the two workers. While waiting, Tara asks a pest control worker, Mike, if she can enter the derelict apartment building he's working in to use the restroom.

Inside, she runs into the Cat Lady, a deluded squatter who believes the doll she carries is her infant child. Art enters Dawn's car and abducts her. Tara then encounters Art inside the apartment building, where he gives chase and attacks her with a scalpel. He eventually subdues her, rendering her unconscious with a sedative. Tara awakens bound to a chair, and Art reveals Dawn, suspended upside-down. He forces Tara to watch as he saws Dawn in half with a hacksaw. Tara escapes and batters Art with a 2x4, but he produces a gun and shoots her to death. The Cat Lady witnesses this and seeks out Mike, begging him to call the police, only for him to dismiss her as insane. Art stalks Mike and knocks him unconscious with a hammer. The Cat Lady then discovers Art cradling her doll, and in a plea for the return of her "child," she tries to show motherly compassion to Art by cradling him. Vicky arrives to take Tara and Dawn home but is lured into the basement by Art.

There, she discovers Art, who has severely mutilated the Cat Lady and is wearing her scalp and breasts. He chases her and corners her into a locker, but turns his attention to Mike's co-worker arriving at the building. After ambushing and decapitating him, Art continues to chase Vicky. She manages to escape him but stops to grieve upon finding her sister's corpse. Art catches up to her and attacks her with a makeshift cat o' nine tails, but Mike, having recovered, arrives and knocks Art unconscious. The two flee and call 9-1-1, but Art appears and overpowers Mike, stomping on his head repeatedly and killing him. Vicky retreats into a garage, but Art rams through the door and runs her over with a pickup truck, incapacitating her. As she lies unconscious, Art begins to eat her face. The police finally arrive, but Art shoots himself inside his mouth with a pistol before he can be apprehended. The officers discover Vicky is still alive.

Art's body is taken to a morgue, along with the bodies of his deceased victims. When the medical examiner unzips Art's body bag, Art reanimates and strangles him to death. One year later, Vicky is released from the hospital after rehabilitation from the injuries inflicted by Art; she is revealed to be the severely disfigured woman from the film's opening scene and thus the events of the entire movie took place that previous year.



The character of Art the Clown first appeared as a supporting character in the 2008 short film The 9th Circle, which Leone wrote and directed.[6] Leone later wrote and directed a short film titled Terrifier, which featured Art as the main antagonist and was released in 2011.[7] These shorts were incorporated into the 2013 anthology film All Hallows' Eve,[8] which marked both Art's first feature film appearance and Leone's feature directorial debut.[9]

In 2015, Leone launched a campaign on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo to finance Terrifier, a feature-length spin-off of All Hallows' Eve.[10] After being notified of the Indiegogo campaign, filmmaker Phil Falcone provided the necessary funds for the project in exchange for a producer credit.[11][12] In The 9th Circle, the short film Terrifier, and All Hallows' Eve, Art was played by Mike Giannelli,[9][13] who opted not to return to the role for the feature film Terrifier due to not wanting to pursue anymore major acting roles. Instead, the role of Art was recast to David Howard Thornton.[14] Thornton was already familiar with All Hallows' Eve when he auditioned for the role of Art in Terrifier, and was cast in the role after improvising a kill scene in mime.[14]


Terrifier premiered at the Telluride Horror Show Film Festival in 2016.[15] It was later screened at the Horror Channel FrightFest on October 28, 2017,[16] and was subsequently picked up by Dread Central Presents and Epic Pictures for a limited 2018 release.[17] In April 2023, it was announced that Terrifier would be released theatrically in 700 theaters on July 19, 2023.[18][19]

Home media[edit]

Terrifier was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Dread Central on March 27, 2018. The release features audio commentary from Damien Leone and David H. Thornton, behind-the-scenes footage, an interview with star Jenna Kanell, deleted scenes, collectible reversible cover art, and several other bonus features.[20]

Critical response[edit]

Terrifier received mixed reviews from critics, with praise directed towards the performances of Thornton and Kanell, while the screenplay received criticism. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 55% based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10.[21] The site's critical consensus reads, "All about the splashy kills, Terrifier artfully introduces the unpredictable massacrer mime Art, yet fails to carve an entertaining story worthy of his wrath."[21]

John Higgins (Starburst) praised the performances of Kanell and Corcoran in that they "are attractive leads and hold the attention."[22] Higgins also praised the film's balance of suspense and gore. Anton Bitel of the British Film Institute described the film as a "subtext-free thrill-and-kill ride which openly advertises the sheer senselessness and gratuity of all its on-screen cat-and-mouse deaths by numbers" and "an unapologetically ‘pure’ genre entry, confronting – and amusing – us with all the sinister masked vicariousness of the Halloween spirit."[16] Cody Hamman of Arrow in the Head awarded the film a score of 8 out of 10, calling it "a very simple film, providing 84 minutes of stalking and slashing that occurs largely within the confines of one location. Leone directs the hell out of that simple scenario, though, milking every possible bit of tension from each moment. It's a thrilling, brutal, gory '80s throwback that I recommend checking out, especially if you have a fondness for the same decade of films that this movie obviously holds in high regard."[23]

Sol Harris of the magazine Starburst gave the film a score of 6 out of 10, writing: "Presented as something of a throwback to horror B-movies of the '80s, Terrifier has far more style - both visually and audibly - than the average film of this nature. It's a surprisingly nice looking film for a movie about a clown chopping people into pieces."[24] Jeremy Aspinall of Radio Times praised the film, writing "But despite the unsparing gore, there's also plenty of atmosphere and a gnawing tension that's maintained all the way to the sequel-hinting climax."[25] In a thesis by M. Keith Booker, he writes that rather than evolving the slasher film genre in different directions, Terrifier acts as a homage to the 1980s films of the subgenre but with better special effects and higher production values.[26] Booker also observes similarities with Dawn's (Corcoran) hacksaw death scene and Freddy Krueger's pursuit of Nancy Thompson in the bathtub scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).[26]

The film was not without its detractors. Amyana Bartley of FilmInquiry.com felt that the film's script lacked both clear protagonists and depth, writing, "Art the Clown has the potential to be a formidable, gruesome, franchise horror character, he just needs more seasoning and cultivation."[27] Felix Vasquez Jr. of Cinema Crazed called it "fairly mediocre slasher fare", stating that the film lacked any creativity and tension while also criticizing its story line. Vasquez concluded his review by stating "As a film Terrifier aims high, but feels like a very disposable party favor you'll have forgotten once the credits roll."[28]


The film received three Fangoria Chainsaw Award nominations: Best Limited Release, Best Supporting Actor (Thornton), and Best Makeup FX (Leone).[29][30]


In February 2019, Damien Leone stated that a sequel for Terrifier was in production, with the other sequel's script having already been written. The film went into production in October 2019 with Fuzz on the Lens Productions as co-producers along with Dark Age Cinema.[31] The film was initially delayed during production of its final days of shooting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but finally resumed in September 2020 and wrapped shooting in 2021. The film debuted at the Arrow Video FrightFest in London, England on August 29, 2022, before receiving a nationwide US cinema release on October 6, 2022, and was released to streaming platforms on November 11, 2022.


  1. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (October 21, 2016). "[Telluride Horror Show - A Recap of the Festival". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  2. ^ Jordan Moreau (October 28, 2022). "Terrifier 2' Director Reveals Sequel Plans, a Dismembered Penis Scene That Went Too Far and Using Raw Meat for Intestines". Variety. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  3. ^ "Terrifier". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2022-12-24.
  4. ^ Miska, Brad (2022-09-01). "'Terrifier' – Original Cult Classic Slasher Is Now Streaming on SCREAMBOX!". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  5. ^ Terrifier Panel Days of the Dead Atlanta August 27, 2021. YouTube.
  6. ^ Koestner, Madeleine (December 2, 2013). "Q&A: Damien Leone on "ALL HALLOWS' EVE" and "FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE MUMMY"". Fangoria. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  7. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (October 31, 2016). "[Telluride Horror Show '16] 'Terrifier', 'Spring Break Zombie Massacre', 'The Windmill' Reviews". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  8. ^ Tinnin, Drew (December 17, 2013). "Filmmaker Damien Leone Talks All Hallows' Eve and More". Dread Central. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Karan, Tim (February 9, 2018). "Exclusive: Terrifier red band trailer reveals the return of Art the Clown". Looper. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  10. ^ Rigney, Todd (June 25, 2015). "All Hallows' Eve Spinoff Terrifier Launches Indiegogo Campaign". Dread Central. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  11. ^ Taylor, Nick (July 2, 2018). "Horror Business: The Making of Damien Leone's TERRIFIER". Dread Central. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  12. ^ Millican, Josh (June 25, 2019). "Indiegogo Pitch Video for TERRIFIER 2 Promises to Outdo the Hacksaw Scene–Repeatedly!". Dread Central. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  13. ^ McHargue, Brad (October 15, 2013). "All Hallows' Eve (DVD)". Dread Central. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Boiselle, Matt (March 25, 2018). "Interview: David Howard Thornton Steps Into The Big Shoes Of Art The Clown". Dread Central. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  15. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (November 8, 2016). "'Terrifier' Trailer Brings the Return of Art the Clown! (Exclusive)". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Bitel, Anton (November 10, 2017). "FrightFest Halloween All-Dayer 2017: seven flavours of fear". British Film Institute. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  17. ^ Barton, Steve (December 12, 2017). "Terrifier – Dread Central Presents Poster Premiere! Release Date Announced!". Dread Central. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  18. ^ Squire, John (April 20, 2023). "The Original 'Terrifier' Slashes into 700 Theaters for the First Time This Summer". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved April 20, 2023.
  19. ^ Couch, Aaron (April 20, 2023). "First 'Terrifier' Movie Returning to Theaters (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  20. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (March 20, 2018). "Dread Central Presents: Terrifier Home Video Details Revealed". Dread Central. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Terrifier (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  22. ^ Higgins, John. "Terrifier (2018)". Starburst. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  23. ^ Hamman, Cody (July 17, 2017). "Terrifier (Movie Review)". JoBlo.com. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  24. ^ Harris, Sol (February 28, 2018). "TERRIFIER - STARBURST Magazine". Starburst. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  25. ^ Aspinall, Jeremy. "Terrifier". Radio Times. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  26. ^ a b Booker, M. Keith (2021). "The Slasher Film: An Introduction". bookerhorror.com. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  27. ^ Bartley, Amyana (March 20, 2018). "Terrifier: Missing Depth & A Point". Film Inquiry. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  28. ^ Vasquez Jr., Felix (October 31, 2018). "Terrifier (2017)". Cinema Crazed. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  29. ^ Collis, Clark (January 22, 2019). "Halloween, Hereditary, and A Quiet Place nominated for Best Movie… at Fangoria Awards". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  30. ^ Rife, Katie (January 22, 2019). "Screw the Oscars, let's see who got nominated for a Fangoria Chainsaw Award". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  31. ^ Dressler, Jacob (April 10, 2019). "'Terrifier 2' and 'Terrifier 3' in the Works Says Art the Clown Actor". Screen Geek. Retrieved September 23, 2019.

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