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We talk to writer, director, editor, and SFX wizard Damien Leone about the hotly anticipated — and insanely good — “Terrifier 2”.

Art the Clown has become a popular icon in the horror world. I see his fan art everywhere. Many of my horror friends have his face tattooed on their bodies, and meeting him in person (David Howard Thornton) was a highlight for this writer! I just finished watching Terrifier 2, and I am still reeling from the experience. I absolutely loved every nightmare-inspiring moment!

This film honestly is not for the faint of heart, but for a slasher lover like me, it was pure gold — or, should I say, pure blood? It was also funny in a way you almost feel guilty about since you know he is a serial killer. But with how he toys with his victims, or even in his playful scene in a Halloween store trying on sunglasses, I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy myself.

Director-writer, SFX genius, set/prop builder, and editor Damien Leone created all the brutal and gory effects in the original Terrifier and cranked it all up considerably in Terrifier 2.

It may be over the top but in such an inventive and amazing way.

Leone has created an unforgettable character with Art the Clown. Evil clowns may be a dime a dozen, but Art joins the infamous ranks of a select sinister few, including Pennywise, who is truly enduring and memorable.

Art is so goofy and wacky, even when he is ripping people apart.

It’s a real testament to David Howard Thornton, the man behind the mask, and his talent for improvisation and physical comedy.  

Trying to review this film without spoilers is almost impossible, so I’ll offer up a short personal synopsis. Then you can jump into my amazing interview with the film’s brilliant creator, Damien Leone.

Terrifier 2 begins immediately with the brutal antics of the magically reincarnated Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton). He shot himself at the end of the first film, but he is now apparently supernatural. It’s Halloween in Miles County, and he is on the prowl.

Somehow connected to siblings Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and Eric (Griffin Santopietro) through their deceased father, he finds and stalks them with grinning passion. He also finds his way into their dreams.

LeVera and Santiopetro did a fantastic job and were quite believable in a film jampacked with complicated special effects. I loved their chemistry and was fully invested in their plight. I loved watching others get slaughtered, but I rooted for their survival. Sienna absolutely kicks some clown ass, and I cheered her on! We also get a few nice cameos from horror favorites Felissa Rose and Tamara Glynn.

Terrifier 2 is incredibly engaging.

I didn’t question everything the actors did like I do while watching most horror films.

I loved the SFX to pieces! Damien Leone is so invested in his makeup art. From the perspective of an SFX artist myself, I was blown away. I also know this film was made with a super tiny budget and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It looks like a much higher-budget film.

The love and commitment put into the making of this film are apparent at every turn.

I rank Art the Clown up there with all the other iconic slashers, and that’s saying a lot. Freddy, Jason, and Michael, you have a new partner in crime; Art is in town. If he’s smiling, someone’s dying!

I feel this movie is above and beyond the first Terrifier, which doesn’t usually happen with sequels. I really hope there is a Terrifier 3 to come! Please enjoy my interview with Damien Leone. He was so wonderful to talk to.


Vicki Woods: Hi Damien! I am so excited! I am a huge Terrifier fan, and I just finished watching Terrifier 2. I don’t know, but maybe Terrifier 2 needed a bit more gore. It really isn’t very bloody! Ha Ha.

Damien Leone: Wait for part three! (Lots of laughs)

VW: As an SFX artist myself, I was so impressed with your work. Even a hardcore slasher fan like me had to look away a few times. Art the Clown is brutal! You personally did most of the SFX correct?

DL: I did. Me and my producer Phil Falcone. Phil is not a makeup effects artist, but he wanted to be by my side and be my assistant on Terrifier, so I taught him as much as I could, like how to make molds and mix silicone. He even sculpts with me a little bit. He was my guy on the set of Terrifier 2 the whole way.

He didn’t really want to do all that work because there are quadruple the effects in part two than there were in part one, so I tried to hire another makeup company to help and have them do like 40% of the work.

Unfortunately, about a month before shooting, they dropped out because we couldn’t come to terms with a budget. So we said, “OMG, what are we going to do now?”

We postponed, but Phil said, we just have to start shooting. We would shoot scenes requiring makeup, and if we didn’t have the makeup, we would take a week or 5 days off. Then he and I would make the prop and then go back in and shoot those scenes. So, for 99% of the movie, it was Phil and me.

There were a couple of days when I had an assistant come in. She would apply Art’s makeup. She did that 3 times, and she helped me paint some body parts. Her name is Alana Rose, and she did a great job. But basically, for the whole 2 and a half years of working on this, it was really Phil and I doing everything.

VW: How does it feel to finally present Terrifier 2 to the public after all that time?

DL: A lot of mixed emotions and a lot of relief. A part of me still doesn’t believe that it’s actually coming out. And a part of me is very anxious. I’m a little nervous, I’m not gonna lie. As a filmmaker, especially a writer/filmmaker, when it’s really all just you up there, you are very vulnerable. The things that work are great. And the things that don’t work, well, that doesn’t feel too good. But I just accept it all and embrace it.

You get nervous, there’s no doubt. You don’t wanna disappoint people or waste people’s time, and you don’t want to let people down. So, we will see! It is what it is.

VW: We’ll I loved it! So, for this question, can we go back in time a bit? Art himself appeared way before we saw him in Terrifier. Can you tell me a little bit about how he came to be?

DL: I made my first short film when I got out of my one filmmaking class. I didn’t go to a big film school. I took an introductory/aesthetics of filmmaking class because, when I got out of high school, I knew I didn’t want to do anything except make movies. The cool thing would have been to go to film school, but I didn’t have the money.

So, I took one class and realized it wasn’t for me. They were teaching me about Godard and people like that. And though I love them and respect them, it wasn’t what got me into filmmaking at the time. I mean, I wanted to make a killer clown movie. (Laughs) Well, at least that’s what I decided a couple of years later. So, I talked my mother into giving me money to make a film instead of going to school.

I planned to make this short film packed with my own special effects so that I could showcase and submit it to festivals. Hopefully, somebody would notice it.

At the beginning of the short, I had this idea for a clown terrorizing a woman in a train station and eventually abducting her. She wakes up underground, surrounded by a cult of demons and creatures — with lots of effects. Everybody who saw that short said, “Oh my God, that clown at the beginning…there is something there. He’s so cool, so creepy. I’d love for you to make something else.”

I heard that across the board, so naturally, I had to make something else with him.

A few years later, I made Terrifier the short film, which was a 20-minute short based solely on Art the Clown chasing a woman, terrorizing her, and she was just trying to get away from him. That’s when I turned him into a slasher character. And then, when everybody saw that, they loved him even more. So, the natural step was to make a feature.

With all these sorts of stepping stones along the way, I started to really understand who the character was, and I was having a really good time writing him and making him even more sadistic and funnier. I  built his really dark sense of humor until, eventually, it became Terrifier.

Then I found David Howard Thornton, who became Art the Clown. Originally, it wasn’t David; it was my buddy who didn’t want to act anymore.

So, all these things just fell into place, and we got here. I’m surrounded by many wonderful people, cast, and crew, so it’s been great.

VW: I’ve met David; he’s adorable! It’s crazy to think he is there, under that face.

DL: You would never know when you meet him that he is Art the Clown. And I mean this in the most endearing way. He is literally Roger Rabbit come to life; he is a walking cartoon. And he brings that to the role with his Looney Toon antics. He is wonderful.

VW: Why does Art love killing so much? Is there anything you can share at this point about his backstory?

DL: We haven’t explored that exactly yet, what he is, or why he does what he does, and that would be too much of a spoiler. But I’ve shared before that I do write him as if the Devil and Jack the Ripper had a kid. What would that person do with his victims? So, regarding the sadistic element and the graphic violence, I have that covered. But he is a clown, so it seemed natural to me that if he’s smiling, he must be having a good time doing it.

It makes it so much creepier that he is enjoying it.

Out of all the other classic slashers, like Jason, Freddy, or Leather Face, it’s not like they necessarily enjoy what they are doing. They are just programmed, more like a shark, to be dark and just driven to kill. But Art really loves it. He loves the foreplay and the victim’s suffering as much as possible. He doesn’t want to just get straight to the kill; he wants to revel in the suffering.

VW: Yes, he does!! So, was making this film as hard to make as I’ve heard? We talked about losing your SFX people, but were there other challenges that made getting this done difficult?

DL: It really was as difficult as you have heard.

I know every filmmaker says making movies is hard, and they all really are, but with our budget, the resources available, and the limited crew, it was very hard.

We had a crew of about 8 people strong throughout the whole process; sometimes we had more, and sometimes we had less.

When you see this movie, and you see the sets and the set pieces, we did not have a crew of people building this stuff — it was all us! And we built major sets in this big barn out in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York, just a big tin can, and we were filming there in the middle of winter! Sienna’s bedroom was just a set in a barn with no heat. We were all freezing, and there was no running water. So, you film a scene with blood, and it’s a nightmare. Dipping your hands in buckets of water or water bottles to clean off and 14-hour days; it was grueling.

The only thing you could do is surround yourself with great people, who believe in the script and believe in what you’re doing, and hopefully, they can make you laugh when you get really down and discouraged. Luckily, I was surrounded by a group of people who were like that.

We got through it, but it was not something I’m looking forward to doing ever again. We’ll try to avoid that next time and have more money and more people. But we’ll do whatever we need to do to get it done to make sure we’re not compromising the vision.

VW: We’ll it looked amazing, and I know you’re the editor, too, on top of everything else!

DL: Well, thank you. But the way it looks is a testament to my director of photography, George Steuber. He’s also my co-producer, and he’s a beast. So amazing with the lighting. It was just beautiful.

VW: Tell me about the character, Sienna.

DL: Sienna is my favorite part of the whole film. I have had a version of her character in my head for so many years. Not exactly her, but what you see on screen is what she evolved into. A final girl, dressed like a Valkyrie. A real girl, grounded in reality, but who ultimately becomes a warrior. A true final girl hero.

VW: What was one very memorable moment while shooting the film?

DL: There was one scene that was going to be especially bloody, where we cover the entire room with blood. That couldn’t be shot in a person’s house, it would destroy the place, so we built a set. The set still stands in the barn where we built it, just like we left it. Blood everywhere.

We shot there for many long freezing days, then we just walked out and never looked back. It was the big scene to hopefully rival the hacksaw scene in part one.

VW: Thank you so much! It was amazing talking to you, and if I got a chance to work with you, I would never walk away! I love making things gory!

DL: Thanks! And you’re welcome!

Don’t miss Terrifier 2 when it arrives UNCUT in theaters on October 6th, 2022, from Cinedigm in partnership with Iconic Events.  For a complete list of theaters, go to the website at

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