Terrifier Wears Its Exploitation Label As A 'Badge Of Honor'

Exploitation films often thrive among cult audiences who hold a reverence for a bygone era of filmmaking, which makes it even more fascinating to see the "Terrifier" films blow up in popularity. Although, it's not entirely difficult to see why. The brutal slasher film series revolves around Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton), a sadistic pantomime killer whose affinity for mutilating the human body is boundless. If Art catches wind of you alone at night, you might as well accept that you're going to die an unimaginably painful death.

With the release of "Terrifier 2" garnering headlines regarding the bodily reactions of people seeing it in theaters, a new addition to the slasher hall of fame is well on its way. Although he doesn't speak, what makes Art such an interesting screen killer is his ability to mimic the screen clowns of the silent era. Thornton's dedicated performance answers the question, "What if Charlie Chaplin was inhabited by a demon?"

In a 2018 interview with Dread Central, director Damien Leone explained that pushing the envelope to extreme lengths was the only way to make "Terrifier" stand out from the crowd:

"Even when I was making 'Terrifier,' I knew we had to put stuff in that movie that was going to make it stand out next to Hollywood movies ... what's going to make people talk about it? Luckily people already really liked Art the Clown but I still knew we had to do things with the kill scenes and the violence that would bring this movie to another level."

If you've seen the hacksaw scene, you already know.

'The violence is definitely the star of the film'

"Terrifier" is built upon the foundation of the grindhouse era, where some folks believe good taste goes to die. It's all about pushing extremes, which Damien Leone does really well. Whether you like his films or not, the practical makeup effects are truly unforgettable. Both "Terrifier" films are essentially bred to be provocative pieces of art that have people like me running to tell folks about how crazy the kills are. As far as Leone's concerned, living up to the gruesome word of mouth with the first film was exactly what he wanted. Here's what he had to say about the reputation of "Terrifier" with Dread Central:

"You should wear that like a badge of honor. I've heard people say 'the violence in 'Terrifier' is gratuitous and has no purpose,' and I'm like, "Yeah ... it's definitely gratuitous, the violence is definitely the star of the film.' So I tell filmmakers, just do something crazy that's going to stand out."

It's amazing what a few years can do to shift one's perspective. While Leone doesn't disown the original "Terrifier," the film's reception has led him to view some of his previous decisions through a more critical lens, such as the handling of Samantha Scaffidi's Victoria. He also heard the criticisms that the original "Terrifier" lacked a story, or characters worth following. With that, Leone corrected this in the sequel with the addition of Lauren LaVera's Sienna, a warrior princess final girl with a mysterious connection to the Miles County Killer. With the improvements made in "Terrifier 2," Leone can have his exploitation mashed potatoes, and eat them too.

"Terrifier" and "Terrifier 2" are currently streaming on Screambox.