Interview with Damien Leone director of Terrifier
By James Whittington, Saturday 28th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Terrifier at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event today, director Damien Leone talks about the 'Art' of extreme clowning, his debt to Tom Savini and a terrifying Halloween experience...

Art, The Clown initially appeared in your 2008 short The 9th Circle, then the 2011 award-winning short Terrifier and in your first feature All Hallow's Eve. What made you decide to give him a fourth outing?

DL: Up until this point I never felt like I fully showcased Art's potential. I believe between the short films and All Hallows' Eve, there only exists about 20 minutes of Art the Clown screen time. For a character who's done so little, he seems to really resonate with horror fans. After all of the positive feedback, a full length film that focused solely on Art was inevitable.

Art has a very twisted personality - he's both brutal (his silence adding to his deadliness) and comical but not without some subtle pathos. How difficult was it to strike that balance?

DL: In all honesty, I never intended to evoke any sort of pathos from his character. I do find that interesting and maybe there is something to that but the brutality and twisted personality was always intentional from the get-go as was the subtle comedy. Although I'm a huge fan of some horror comedies like Return of The Living Dead or Evil Dead 2, it's not a style I strive for in my own films. I always shoot for a more serious tone but ironically, the comedy in Terrifier was very organic and almost wrote itself. I should be clear and say the intentional comedy in Terrifier only comes from the Art the Clown character himself. He's always had a sick sense of humour from the very beginning but this time I tried to take it a little further whereas after every unspeakable act of violence he commits, he follows it with something comical like a facial expression or a quirky gesture. This does two things, it gives the audience a chance to relieve some tension but it also makes Art more demented when we realize just how much fun he's having at his victim's expense.

You've said that you set out to make Art as violent as possible. Why?

DL: This basically comes from the fact that I'm a special effects artist. I knew the effects would be one of our strong suits going into the film since I can do a lot on a very limited budget. There is so much content out there right now and I believe that if you want to stand out, it doesn't hurt to show things that will really grab the audience's attention and get them talking. It's 2017; there's been thousands of horror movies. I mean how many times can you show a knife cutting through the air followed by a shot of blood hitting the wall? Almost everything has been done to death (pun intended) so I feel I have a duty to the audience to present them with stuff that hasn't quite been seen before or if it has, to do it in a way that feels fresh.

David Howard Thornton is terrific as Art. How did you two meet and bond? And how challenging was it, given Art had previously been played by Mike Giannelli.

DL: Finding a new actor to play Art was by far the most crucial and nerve-wracking aspect of this film. Everything people loved about Art was a testament to how Mike Giannelli portrayed him and now I had to start from scratch. Very frightening indeed. But as luck would have it, David came in for an audition one day and my producer and I immediately knew this was our guy. David pantomimed the act of stabbing someone to death and sawing their head off with great exuberance and glee. He's also extremely animated, tall and thin. I always envisioned Art to be of a more slender build and I was excited to see what little quirks and nuances David could bring to the character. Working with David was a total delight from start to finish. We bonded immediately thanks to the countless hours in the makeup chair. Dave will joke and tell stories as I transform him into Art over the course of approximately three hours. We had to repeat this process well over 20 times during the shoot.

The film has a very dark 70s/80s tone and the narrative is stripped down to the bone. What influences were at play here?

DL: The main objective was to keep it as close to the 20 minute short film as possible. The short film was a no holds barred, relentless, 70s-style grind house flick that was made to feel like an intense rollercoaster ride. That's actually how I came up with the title Terrifier. To me Terrifier was more a reflection of the film as an experience and didn't necessarily have anything specific to do with the characters or story. People responded so positively to the short film that I figured the best plan of attack would be to just make an 80 minute version of the 20 minute short. Essentially this would mean taking the best parts of a slasher film and eliminating as much of the filler as possible.

With all the attention given to IT and Pennywise, does this tempt you even further to establish Art as a franchise and make more Terrifier films?

DL: Absolutely. Although we finally gave Art his own movie, we've only just scratched the surface. Now we have to dig a little deeper into his backstory. He has a ton of potential and I can see needing at least a couple of films to tell his full story. It's too premature to say but numerous people have said he has the making of a horror icon. If this continues to be the case once Terrifier is released, it would be downright disrespectful to the character and to the fans to not produce more; just as long as we maintain some integrity and never jump the shark.

All your films are set on Halloween night. Are you a fan of Halloween? Do you have a favourite Halloween/clown story?

DL: I am a huge fan of Halloween but the main reason I set Art the Clown's films on Halloween is so it's acceptable for a man to be walking the streets while dressed as a clown. This at least enables his victims to lower their guard around him when they first cross his path. If it was a hot August night and a mute clown sat across from you in a pizzeria, I think the cops would be called immediately. I do in fact have a personal Halloween story that stands out and I'll try to make it quick. One night a few friends and I were driving home from a Halloween party and we passed a car on the side of the road that was turned completely on its side against the guard rail. We immediately pulled over and approached the vehicle. Two young women were inside the car. Apparently, the driver was drunk and fell asleep at the wheel. Thankfully, by some miracle, both girls were perfectly fine aside from being dazed and frightened but what makes this story worth telling is seeing my friend who's 6'4 leap on top of the turned over car in full Spider-Man attire and pull the young women to safety. Surreal moment indeed.

Who do you most admire in the horror genre?

DL: This is a very difficult question because I can throw around countless names and ramble on and on for hours but I must say I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for the makeup effects maestro Tom Savini. When I was around 6 or 7 years old I stumbled upon a VHS tape called Scream Greats that changed my life. It was a documentary on Savini and it was the first time I saw how monsters were created. This video and also the making of Michael Jackson's Thriller with Rick Baker really left an impression on me. I was fascinated by seeing people transformed into creatures. For years I would rent these films over and over but when I was around 12 years old, I finally owned a copy of Scream Greats. This time I actually began experimenting. My mother took me to a horror convention where I actually bought my first makeup kit, a 12oz bottle of mint flavoured blood and a real machete (dulled) with a semi-circle cut out of the blade. This is a classic Savini gag that he's used in several movies. It creates the illusion that the machete is actually buried in your flesh when you place it against the skin or on top of your skull. As soon as I got home, I tried out all of my new goodies on my friends and myself. Savini introduced me to blood tubes, mortician's wax, things that were more accessible to someone starting out. Soon I started filming the effects with a camcorder and eventually I began making my own little short films; which is how I became interested in the grander aspect of filmmaking. But even though as a filmmaker I'm influenced by countless artists from all genres, I really have to thank Savini for being the first person to show me the magic of filmmaking.

Zombies or vampires?

DL: Very tough question. Zombies frighten me more than vampires. My favourite horror film of all time is Romero's Dawn of the Dead and my dream project is an epic zombie film but The Lost Boys holds such a special place in my heart. I saw it in the theatres when I was literally 3 years old and it had such a profound effect on me. It's one of my absolute favourites till this day and because of it, I love vampires so much. So to answer your question, I can't choose.

Finally, what's next?

DL: There are a few awesome projects that I'd love to tackle but I think it would be foolish to sleep on the inevitable Terrifier sequel. Clowns are so hot right now because of IT and more and more people are starting to dig Art the Clown on a daily basis so I think we should strike while the iron's hot before the killer clown sub-genre goes into hibernation for another 20 years.

88 Films unleashes two terrifying treats in stunning HD restorations!
Posted in News, Tuesday 20th March 2018

Despite a street date of July 9th, Alfred Sole's sublime scare-fest Alice Sweet Alice is shipping from the 88 Films web site NOW! And that is not all they have planned this month as the old VHS favourite The Bone Yard makes a blistering comeback in horrific HD!

The slasher film phenomenon had barely begun to find its feet when, in 1976, New Jersey based director Alfred Sole (Pandemonium) put a definitive mark on the form with his timeless terror title Alice Sweet Alice. Pre-dating the groundbreaking girls-in-peril chills of John Carpenter's blockbuster Halloween, Sole's shocker tells of murder and mayhem in and out of a strict Catholic Church - and the killer happens to be clad in a pale white mask... ...

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Posted in News, Tuesday 20th March 2018

The legendary comedy-horror-disaster franchise is back and bigger than ever!

With much of North America lying in ruins, the rest of the world braces for the inevitable: a global sharknado. From London to Asia, South Africa to Mexico, Fin and his family must put a stop to the sharknados once and for all.

Marking the latest in this epically entertaining film series, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming stars Tara Reid (American Pie), Ian Ziering (Beverley Hills, 90210), Cassie Scerbo (Make It or Break It), Masiela Lusha (George Lopez), Cody Linley (Hannah Montana, Dancing with the Stars), Chris Kattan (Saturday Night Live) and features a whole host of celebrity cameos.

So grab your chainsaw, shar...

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Posted in Features, Tuesday 20th March 2018

April on Horror Channel sees an Infection Season spread across Saturday nights with a highly contagious collection of outbreak action, headed by the network premieres of Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later and the equally impressive sequel 28 Weeks Later, starring Robert Carlyle. There are also welcome re-showings for Breck Eisner's critically-acclaimed remake of George Romero's 1973 movie, The Crazies, and M. Night Shyamalan's boldly unsettling survival movie The Happening.

28 Days Later on the 7th was one of the most successful genre movies of 2002 a...

Terrifier - DVD review
Posted in Reviews, Sunday 18th March 2018


Signature Entertainment

Certificate 18

"Coulrophobia: the fear of clowns."

There's been a spate of "killer clown" movies of late as well as that trend of people posting increasingly boring videos of themselves dressing up as clowns and scaring the crap out of people. After we've been treated to the Eli Roth produced Clown and the remake of IT, step forward a movie that truly does make clowns scary, Terrifier.

This is the story of the maniacal Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton), who terrorizes three young women on Halloween, butchering everyone who stands in his way. In grand Halloween tradition, we see the night he came home in all its gory glory, in a pl...

Friendly Beast - FrightFest review
Posted in Frightfest, Reviews, Sunday 18th March 2018

Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow was a true showcase for world cinema. One of the stand out pieces came from Gabriela Amaral Almeida who wrote and directed Friendly Beast, a film so visceral yet beautiful at the same time, it left an indelible mark on this reviewer's mind.

It's nearly closing time at a struggling restaurant. Staff want to go home while the boss struggles with money troubles and a desire for more power in his life. Enter two robbers, the catalyst for a violent situation, which the boss is initially able to contain and gain the upper hand. Suddenly, the already dangerous and explosive situation turns deadly; sides are taken, and people turn to the most abhorrent behaviour in an instant.


Interview with Richard Elliot, Managing Director of 88 Films
Posted in Interviews, Saturday 17th March 2018

Recently I've been lucky enough to review some rather tasty Blu-rays from 88 Films. This company has been behind amazing releases of titles such as A Cat in the Brain, Anthropophagous and Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. So I decided to chat to managing director Richard Elliot about 88 Films and how they survive in a cut-throat market.

HC: How did 88 Films start?

RE: 88 Films started after James and I met working for another label and it was the usual "we think we can do it better than the boss" scenario. So we slowly developed an idea of what we wanted to do after work down the pub and after lots of head scratching and pork scratchings and some setbacks BE Movies was born... which quickly became 88 Films...

Dario Argento's Tenebrae gets definitive vinyl release
Posted in News, Thursday 15th March 2018

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Unlike the soundtracks that Goblin had previously contributed to the films by Dario Argento, the music of Tenebrae incorporates heavy electronica and dance music blended with rock and disco elements for a unique hybrid of genre and composition style.

Extensive usage of early an...

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Posted in News, Monday 12th March 2018

Quail Hollow, starring Marcia Do Vales (Ibiza Undead, Heretiks), Peyton Wich (Stranger Things, The Darkest Minds) and Thomas Francis Murphy (The Walking Dead, Mindhunter) recently wrapped a haunting shoot in Louisiana.

Directed by Spaniard Javier De Prado (making his feature film debut) and produced by UK's Templeheart Films in association with EnMar Productions, the pulse-racing paranormal thriller centres on twin sisters Sunny and Mila (played by Marcia Do Vales) ...

Hitchcock and Herrmann get special release for Record Store Day 2018
Posted in News, Sunday 11th March 2018

More Record Store Day 2018 news has reached us and fans of the work of Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann are in for a treat. Silva Screen Records will release a Double A Side 7 Inch on transparent amber vinyl containing two pieces of Herrmann's most famous work.

Side A contains Prelude/The Nightmare from Vertigo and Side AA has North by Northwest Main Titles, this release is limited to just 1200.

Bernard Herrmann is the undoubted master of the film score and his music for Vertigo and North By Northwest remain as vital a component as the director, actors and script. Vertigo crackles with tension as James Stewart's character Scottie goes through an emotional wringer. Herrm...

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