Promotional release poster
|Directed by||Damien Leone|
|Produced by||Phil Falcone|
|Written by||Damien Leone|
|Starring||David Howard Thornton|
|Music by||Paul Wiley|
|Edited by||Damien Leone|
|Distributed by||Dread Central Presents|
Terrifier is a 2016 American slasher film edited, written, co-produced, and directed by Damien Leone. The film stars Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, David Howard Thorton, and Catherine Corcoran, and follows the actions of a homicidal clown named Art the Clown, who terrorizes and kills victims in a decrepit apartment building. The film marks the second feature film appearance of the Art character, after Leone's 2013 anthology film All Hallows' Eve, which incorporated footage from previous short films that were also directed by Leone and featured Art.
Terrifier 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. In February 2019, Damien Leone stated that a sequel for Terrifier is in production, and that the sequel's script having already been written.
Monica Brown, a talk show host, interviews a severely disfigured woman who is the sole survivor of a massacre that took place the previous Halloween night. She mentions that the body of the killer, known only as "Art the Clown", disappeared from the morgue prior to autopsy, suggesting that he might still be alive. The disfigured woman dismisses this notion, insisting that she saw him die. While in her dressing room after the show, Monica insults the woman's appearance during a telephone conversation, after which the woman attacks Monica and gouges her eyes out.
On Halloween night, two friends, Tara and Dawn, leave a Halloween party and drunkenly wander back to Dawn's car, where they notice a strange man in a clown costume. The man, Art the Clown, follows them into a nearby pizzeria. The restaurant owner soon roughly escorts Art from the premises for smearing feces in the bathroom. The girls return to their car, where they discover that one of the tires has been slashed, and Tara calls her sister Vicky to come and pick them up. While waiting for Vicky to arrive, Tara asks a pest control worker named Mike to let her into a derelict apartment building to use the restroom. Inside the building, Tara encounters a deluded woman (credited as "Cat Lady") who believes that a doll she carries is her infant child. Meanwhile, Art returns to the pizzeria, where he mutilates and kills the two men working there, before abducting Dawn from her car.
As Tara attempts to leave the building, she encounters Art. He pursues her through the building's indoor mechanics garage,and stabs her with a scalpel. She tries to alert Mike of the situation, but Art drugs her, rendering her unconscious. She later awakens bound to a chair, and watches as Art removes a curtain to reveal Dawn, suspended upside-down from the ceiling, and saws her in half. Tara escapes from her restraints and beats Art with a chair arm, but he draws a handgun and shoots her to death. The Cat Lady witnesses this and begs Mike to call the police. Mike dismisses her as insane and attempts to call a co-worker before Art knocks him unconscious with a hammer. The Cat Lady then discovers Art cradling her doll in a maintenance hall. In a plea for the return of her "child", she tries to show motherly compassion by cradling Art.
Vicky arrives outside the building and is lured into the basement by Art. There, she discovers what she believes is an injured Tara, but it is revealed to be Art, who has mutilated the Cat Lady and is wearing her scalp and breasts. Mike's co-worker, Will, arrives looking for Mike, and Art decapitates him before nearly suffocating Vicky with cellophane. She wounds Art and escapes, and stops to grieve upon finding Tara's corpse. Art slashes her with a makeshift cat o' nine tails, but Mike appears and knocks Art unconscious. The two flee and call 9-1-1, and as they attempt to escape the building, Art appears and kills Mike, and Vicky retreats into a garage. Art rams through the garage's entrance with a pickup truck, causing further injury to Vicky. As she lies helplessly, Art begins to eat her face. Police arrive, but Art shoots himself in the head with a pistol before the officers can apprehend him.
Later that night, Art's body is taken to a morgue, along with the bodies of his deceased victims. When the medical examiner unzips Art's bodybag, Art reanimates and strangles the man to death. One year later, Vicky is released from a hospital after rehabilitation from her injuries, and she is revealed to be the severely disfigured woman from the film's opening scene.
- Jenna Kanell as Tara
- Samantha Scaffidi as Victoria
- David Howard Thornton as Art the Clown
- Catherine Corcoran as Dawn
- Pooya Mohseni as Cat Lady
- Matt McAllister as Mike the Exterminator #1
- Katie Maguire as Monica Brown
- Gino Cafarelli as Steve
- Cory Duval as Coroner
- Michael Leavy as Will the Exterminator #2
- Erick Zamora as Ramone
- Jason Leavy as Police Officer 1
- Steve Della Salla as Police Officer 2
- Clifton Dong as Male Prostitute
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2019)
Director Damien Leone was always trying to raise money for Terrifier. The release of All Hallow's Eve was just the beginning of the search for funding in order to make Terrifier. Along with that income, Damien Leone reached out to fans to invest in the production through the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. However, the Indiegogo campaign was unsuccessful. Luckily, A friend of Leone's, Phil Falcone, put up the rest of the required budget in exchange for a producer credit allowing the film to finally be made. The budget is estimated around $100,000.
Terrifier premiered at the Telluride Horror Show Film Festival in 2016. It was later screened at the Horror Channel FrightFest on October 28, 2017, and was subsequently picked up by Dread Central Presents and Epic Pictures for a limited 2018 release.
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. Thorton, behind-the-scenes footage, an interview with star Jenna Kanell, deleted scenes, collectible reversible cover art, and several other bonus features.
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." James Simpson from Infernal Cinema.com gave the film a positive review, calling it "[a] gory 80’s slasher throwback" and praised Thornton's performance as Art the Clown. Cody Hamman from Arrow in the Head awarded the film a score of 8/10, writing, "TERRIFIER is 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." Sol Harris from Starburst Magazine gave the film a score of 6/10, 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."
The film was not without its detractors. Amyana Bartley from Film Inquiry.com felt that the film's script lacked depth, and any clear protagonists, stating "Art the Clown has the potential to be a formidable, gruesome, franchise horror character, he just needs more seasoning and cultivation." Felix Vasquez Jr. from Cinema Crazed called it "[a] fairly mediocre slasher fare", stating that the film lacked any creativity and tension, also criticizing the film's storyline. 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."
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