Filmmaker Damien Leone never set out to make the year’s most disturbing killer clown movie, the idea just popped into his delightfully disturbed mind one day.
“I had this idea in my head of this scene of a woman riding a bus in the middle of the night all by herself and all of a sudden this clown gets on and sits next to her,” he tells loaded. “It’s just the two of them and slowly he starts toying with her and it gets worse and worse.”
What started as a small sequence in Leone’s first short film, The 9th Circle, soon began to evolve into something else though. “I had always thought clowns were creepy and loved Tim Curry’s Pennywise growing up. But I thought there was something missing when it came to clowns on film. I wanted to hand my clown a knife and turn him into a cold-blooded killer.”
The result is Terrifier’s Art the Clown, a wordless, relentless, killing machine and arguably the most effective slasher villain since the genre’s 1980s heyday. Whereas Pennywise draws strength from scaring the living hell out of the Losers Club in Stephen King’s IT, Art goes straight in for the kill – with deliciously gory results.
That gore didn’t come easy though. Leone was the mastermind behind all of the film’s special effects, something he ranks among the “most challenging aspects” of Terrifier, given what he had planned. He did his homework too. Some pretty intense homework at that.
“I researched medieval torture methods,” Leone revealed to loaded. “Because you need stuff people haven’t seen for.” He certainly makes a compelling case for the film’s bold bloodletting too.
“There have been countless slasher movies over the years. All showing the same murder, with the knife going in and not even showing audiences the blood and guts. I wanted to create something memorable to separate Terrifier from the big boys.”
The result is a film full of uniquely grizzly deaths, including one involving a hacksaw being cut up through one victim’s body from the groin up.
“That was a huge undertaking,” Leone admits to loaded. “But that was actually a genuine method for torturing and killing people back in the 1500s. They would hang people upside down and cut through them with a giant saw. Because they hung them upside down, it meant the victim lived for a long time before dying. They could cut pretty much all the way up to their head.”
In some low budget filmmaker’s hands that sort of scene might not have worked as well in reality as it did on the page, but not Terrifier. It stays with you long after the final credits have rolled and may even end up haunting your dreams, which was crucial for Leone.
“We knew that was going to be the focal point of the movie and the moment people would be talking about,” he said. “We put a lot of energy into those effects. But it was about balancing these two sensibilities.”
Even Art the Clown’s demented look took a lot of time and care with actor
A lean, mean monster of a horror movie, Terrifer has earned plenty of praise for its stripped back plot and gore to the wall approach. And there could be good news on the horizon for fans of the film.
“I would like to do a Terrifier sequel although I do also have an idea for a vampire film. There hasn’t been a really scary vampire movie for a while. Not since Salem’s Lot. We need to reinvent Vampires to a degree. But I would happily do a Terrifier sequel. We need to find out a bit more about Art the Clown. But without revealing too much.”
Either way, loaded awaits the results with glee. And a sick bag. Just in case.
Terrifier is out on DVD & Digital HD now.