Terrifier (2016) starring Jenna Kanell, Catherine Corcoran and David Howard Thornton. Directed by Damien Leone.
It’s Halloween night and two friends fall foul of a demented killer dressed as a clown. One of them decides to seek refuge in an abandoned creepy building. Cue much stabbing, cutting, puncturing, sawing and general choppiness as the greatest Slasher icon since Hatchet’s Victor Crowley gets his freak on!
At the start of April I watched what I predict will be my absolute favourite horror movie of 2018: Terrifier. I haven’t felt this excited about a movie since Train To Busan and we all know how great that was. Like Train To Busan, Terrifier is offering nothing new, it’s all been done before, but the strength of Terrifier is that it’s not trying to reinvent the wheel,it’s just saying, ‘Remember how awesome wheels are?’
The ‘thing’ that Terrifier is doing hasn’t been done so authentically since the early ‘80’s. Those of us old enough to remember trips to the video store on a Friday night to load up on horror vids remember just how great that feeling was when you were twenty minutes into a movie and it suddenly dawned on you that you had discovered a real gem for horror hounds; the kind of movie most ‘regular’ people had never heard of. While all the neighbours were talking about Amityville and Poltergeistthe True Horror kids werein the basement watching Maniac and Driller Killer.
Terrifier is first and foremost a love letter to those low budget, grimy horror flicks of the seventies and early eighties.Think The Hills Have Eyes, Basket Case, The Burning and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Especially The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Art The Clown is the bastard offspring of Leatherface and Michael Myers;brutal and relentless, yet eerily silent. Like Leatherface, Art spends much of the movie in a rundown creepy building slaughtering people who wandered in off the street. What I love the most about Art is that he can give us what Michael, Jason and Leatherface can’t: facial expressions. He also moves and emotes like the silent movies stars of the twenties and there’s so much joy in watching Art slink through the shadows with a devious, maniacal look on his painted face like some kind of a Satanic Harold Lloyd.
There is a scene in Terrifier that is the film’s signature kill. It’s gruesome and a great kill and reading the buzz online reminded me of the furor back in the day surrounding the infamous scene of Leatherface impaling Pam on the meat hook.
When Tara is strapped to a chair, screaming her head off during that scene you can’t help but be reminded of Sally at the dinner table in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s a long and protracted scene that strays into the realm of Torture Porn. As if to remind us that Terrifier is not Torture Porn, Art almost immediately breaks the golden rule of Slasher movies – he uses a gun. A frickin’ gun in a Slasher movie. Think about it. Clearly the clown dude gives no fucks.
The strength of Terrifier lies in its simplicity. It knows exactly what it is and what is required of it. There’s no backstory to Art, hell there’s virtually no depth to any of the characters because it simply isn’t needed. Terrifier’s goal is to smash the audience over the head with as much blood soaked visceral carnage as it can manage in eighty one minutes while still maintaining some semblance of a coherent story, and in this it succeeds magnificently.
It’s been a long time since horror gave us a new Slasher icon to be excited about, let’s hope we get another movie or ten because Art the Clown is a frickin’ beast
Steve Barnard lurks in the Stygian swamps of South America. He divides his time between scouring ancient jungles for the lost City of the Monkey Children and watching horror movies. Literally any horror movie he can get his hands on. Especially Japanese ones.