Damien Leone’s ‘Terrifier’ Puts Montclair Students on the Edge of Their Seats

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Published April 7, 2018
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The Montclarion
Damien Leone directed the horror film, "Terrifier." Photo courtesy of modernhorrors.com Photo credit: modernhorrors.com

From left to right: Ken W. Hanley, Catherine Corcoran, David Howard Thornton and Damien Leone discuss the film “Terrifier” and the evolution within the horror genre.
Collin De Lade | The Montclarion

The Film Institute at Montclair State University presented the third installment of the Friday Night Frights series, hosted by former Editor-In-Chief of Fangoria Magazine Ken W. Hanley. Hanley introduced the screening and lead a Q&A session with director Damien Leone and two cast members of the new horror film, “Terrifier” presented by Dread Central and Epic Pictures.

The film centers on a sinister killer clown named Art. On Halloween night, Art sets out to terrorize two young girls no matter who or what gets in his way. “Terrifier” is a throwback to classic ’80s slasher horror and uses traditional practical effects rather than special effects.

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Damien Leone directed the horror film, “Terrifier.”
Photo courtesy of modernhorrors.com

“Terrifier” is not the first on-screen appearance of the maniacal clown. Leone directed a short film of the same name back in 2011, but Art has also starred in another one of Leone’s previous movies, “All Hallow’s Eve” in 2013.

Hanley opened the screening by discussing “The Symbiotic Relationship Between Practical FX and Horror,” where he went deep into the history of practical effects with the evolution of the horror genre. He discussed with the audience the very beginnings of practical makeup during the era of the original “Frankenstein” with Boris Karloff and how the craft evolved into the rarity it is today. Hanley described the modern use of practical effects as “underground art.”

Hanley introduced “Terrifier” by emphasizing how the graphic images are used in the movie and described them as “in-your-face horror.” The screening proceeded and the audience went wild at every twisted kill Art the Clown committed and the demise of his helpless victims. Everyone was terrified of what they were watching while also having a blast seeing every disturbing act of violence imaginable.

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The introduction of the twist and disturbing humor of Art the Clown includes him preying on two innocent girls in a local pizzeria.
Photo courtesy of decaymag.com

The screening was proceeded by a Q&A with Leone and actors Catherine Corcoran and David Howard Thornton.

Leone began by explaining how he created the character of Art the Clown. He first imagined the killer clown back in 2006 in his short film, “The 9th Circle.” After receiving so much praise about the character’s small part, Leone planned to include him in future projects. He eventually created “Terrifier” with Art the Clown as the central killer.

The Q&A continued with questions regarding how the actors auditioned for their respective roles and the feedback they’ve received since. Thornton had a special audition process trying to gain the role of the killer clown. During the audition process, it was difficult for Thornton to find an angle for the killer role. Having no dialogue to work off of, Thornton used his background in physical comedy to bring a dark, comedic edge to the character.

The biggest takeaway from this Q&A was the discussion Leone had about wanting to release his wild and graphic movies without any cuts from a studio and censorship interference. Having such a gruesome and gory film on his hands, Leone knew there was zero chance of getting a studio backing without toning down his film.

The most heartfelt moment of the screening was Thornton getting choked up talking about his friend Stefan Karl Stefansson battling cancer. Stefansson previously played the popular “Lazy Town” character Robbie Rotten and worked with Thornton on a stage version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Thronton proceeded by recording a video message to his friend with the entire audience wishing him well and cheering a variation of his famous catchphrase, “You are Number One.”

The Q&A ended with Leone announcing the release of “Terrifier”on Blu-ray Disc and video on demand for all to buy.

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