ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Interview with Damien Leone director of Terrifier
By James W, 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.


MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, the creative forces behind Crystal Eyes
Posted on Saturday 15th September 2018
Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano

FrightFest 2018 exposed attendees to horror from all over the world and one that made an incredibly stylish and retro impact was the superb giallo inspired shocker, Crystal Eyes. Here the co-writers and co-directors Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano tell us all about this affectionate love letter to the classics of the 80s.

Where did the idea for Crystal Eyes come from?

Crystal Eyes was supposed to be the third episode of our web-series called No Podras Dormir Esta Noche (You Won't Sleep Tonight) which paid homage to different horror sub genres in each episode, and eventually it turned into a feature film. We love Giallo si...

SHARE: READ MORE
Exclusive interview with Adam Green, director of Hatchet.
Posted on Thursday 13th September 2018
Adam Green director of Hatchet

Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV Premiere of Hatchet on Friday 14th Sept, director Adam Green gives an exclusive interview about his beloved franchise and what the future holds for Victor Crowley...

Hatchet is finally getting its first showing on UK TV, courtesy of Horror Channel. We're excited, are you?

I couldn't be more excited! I've always said that even though Hatchet may have world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, it was at FrightFest in London where "Victor Crowley" was truly born. FrightFest was "the screening heard around the world" and the UK audience was so enthusiastic over Hatchet that every genre festival on t...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Tom de Ville, director of Corvidae
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
Tom de Ville director of Corvidae

HC: This is your first short as a director, what inspired you to write this script?

TdV: I read a really interesting article about how smart crows are, in particular how they can hold grudges. Apparently a group of scientists had gone out and harassed a murder of crows whilst wearing masks. If they went back wearing the masks, the crows would remember them and fight back. If they didn't wear the masks, the crows would leave them alone. This made me start thinking about what would happen if someone tried to save a crow from a bunch of kids who were trying to kill it. Would the other crows from its murder remember this? And what would they do to help her?...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Stewart Sparke, director of Book of Monsters
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
Director Stewart Sparke watches a scene

HC: Your last movie, The Creature Below was two years ago, what's life been back since then?

SS: Since The Creature Below premiered at Frightfest in 2016 things haven't really stopped for myself and my collaborator Paul Butler. We were lucky enough to have the film released on DVD and VOD in over eight countries under various names. I think my favourite has to be Japan's Leviathan X: From the Deep! The film even had a theatrical release in Taiwan which was quite surreal as it was playing opposite Thor Ragnarok over there so overall, we've been completely blown away by everything that's happened. Paul and I are always coming up wit...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Ferdinando D'Urbano actor, writer, producer of The Laplace's Demon
Posted on Tuesday 28th August 2018
Ferdinando D'Urbano - Director of Photography Producer COL

A stand-out movie from FrightFest 2018 tested the brain power of those who saw it. The Laplace's Demon is an incredibly powerful piece so we chatted to one of the creatives behind it, Ferdinando D'Urbano.

HC: I'd never heard of Laplace's Demon theory before, can you give us a quick explanation of what it is?

FDU: The Laplace's Demon is a philosophical theory of the early 1800s. Pierre Simon Laplace was a French mathematician who in his work "Essai philosophique sur les probabilites" (A philosophical essay on probabilities), theorized that if there were an intellect capable of knowing al...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Andre Gower director of Wolfman's Got Nards
Posted on Monday 27th August 2018
Wolfman's Got Nards

HC: You had already starred in a lot of stuff before The Monster Squad came along, did you think that this was just "another" acting job?

AG: At the time, it was just that. The next audition, the next project. However, once on set and seeing what you were a part of, we realized quickly that this was something bigger and more unique than anything we had done before or may even get to do in the future.

HC: Were you a fan of the Universal monsters at that time?

AG: I always had an appreciation for the classics even as a kid. As you mature, you keep that appreciation and learn more about it and how it affects the present and realize these were very important...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with John Rocco and Abiel Bruhn the writers and directors of The Night Sitter
Posted on Sunday 26th August 2018

HC: Where did the idea for The Night Sitter come from?

JR: From the beginning of this story, I had my childhood home in Nashville in mind as the perfect location. After several months of convincing, my parents allowed us to film in their house. It's a pretty amazing feeling to have grown up in the same location that we'd eventually film our first feature in! We were able to incorporate all the parts of my house that used to scare me as a child and weave them into a story about witches, which was extremely fun and nostalgic at times. While developing the story, I tried to recall the scary thoughts I had when I was Kevin's age.

AB: Finding an inspiring location (the house has this stran...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Joanne Mitchell, director of Sybil
Posted on Sunday 26th August 2018
Joanne Mitchel Image 4

One of the best things about FrightFest is the Showcases of Shorts which is the way to catch undiscovered talent and unique ideas. Joanne Mitchell has been in the entertainment industry for a few years but has just directed her first piece, Sybil which is showing at FrightFest today.

We decided to chat to her about this amazing and disturbing piece as well as he plans for feature films.

HC: Have you wanted to direct for a while?

JM: To be honest I hadn't really thought of directing until Tracey (Sheals) sent me an email with her idea for Sybil. And I really liked the story and thought this would make a great short film and possibly a feature in the fut...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Michael Mort creator and director of Chuck Steel Night of the Trampires
Posted on Saturday 25th August 2018
mike Mort Director of Chuck Steel

HC: Where did the character of Chuck Steel come from?

MM: I came up with the character of Chuck Steel in 1985 when still at school. I used to doodle this square jawed action hero in my English book when I should have been concentrating on the lesson. Over the years he developed a bit as I drew him in various adventure scenarios, usually involving monsters of some kind. I made a Super8 short film with the character when I was experimenting with animation and I also made a college film featuring Chuck a few years later. These were basically just Chuck fighting monsters for 10 minutes or so but I was learning about how to construct scenes and action as I went. Later in my animati...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Sam Ashurst director of Frankenstein's Creature
Posted on Saturday 25th August 2018

HC: Why did you choose to film James Swanton's acclaimed play, Frankenstein's Creature?

SA: I made a music video for Channel 4, and they gave me a small budget to shoot it in a day. The budget was small enough to raise independently, and I looked around me and realised I had all the crew I needed to shoot an actual feature film, not just a music video - if only I could shoot a film in a day! Then my friend Dan Martin, who did the effects for films like Human Centipede II and Freefire, said that he'd been given advice that if you want to shoot a film in a short space of time, you should option a play. I'd worked with James on another, much smaller thing, and was blown away by his talent....

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Chris Collier, director of FrightFest: Beneath the Dark Heart of Cinema
Posted on Saturday 25th August 2018
Chris Collier director of FrightFest doc

FrightFest is one of the most famous festivals in the world. The team of Alan Jones, Ian Rattray, Paul McEvoy and Greg Day ensure that everyone who attends, from guests to punters get the best experience they can from it.

But what do they really think of each other and what really goes on behind the scenes? A new documentary from Chris Collier has given the team the chance to talk candidly about the festival and each other. Here he tells us how FrightFest: Beneath the Dark Heart of Cinema came together.

HC: Can you recall what it was like at your first FrightFest and what attracted you to attend in the first place?

CC: Back in 2009 I recorded a...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Jon Knautz director of The Cleaning Lady
Posted on Friday 24th August 2018
Jon Knautz director of The Cleaning Lady

HC: What made you decide that your short film The Cleaning Lady would work as a feature?

JK: Actually we had already written the feature before we made the short. We wanted to make a proof of concept to see how people reacted and to try and raise some awareness of our feature script. It was also a great way to experiment with the tone of the film, so we would be ready to tackle the feature.

HC: How did you and co-writer Alexis Kendra work on the script?

JK: Alexis and I had written several scripts together already so we had our system down pretty good at that point. We start by smoking cigars and just brainstorming for a while... then even...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
They Came From Beyond Space
THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE
Sunday 30th September
6.35 PM
I Spit On Your Grave (2010)
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2010)
Tuesday 25th September
10.40 PM
Skyline
SKYLINE
Wednesday 26th September
10.45 PM