Terrifier: Send in the Clown

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Terrifier (2017) An evil clown with a huge bloodlust slashes his way through anyone who insults him or just happens to be around. Starring David Howard Thornton as Art the Clown. Directed by Damien Leone.


Related to the short film “Terrifier” (2011) and “All Hallow’s Eve” (2013), both starring Mike Giannelli as Art the Clown. Directed by Damien Leone. Terrifier is currently on Netflix as a Netflix Original.

The original short film can be found on YouTube here.


Art the Clown


Disclaimer: I am not a fan of mindless gore or torture porn.

Further Disclaimer: This review is full of Spoilers. If you intend to watch his film, read this after you view the movie. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

I have been on Twitter for roughly four months. Somehow, I think that makes many of you shake your head. I cannot say that I am the biggest fan of social media. I avoided being part of both Twitter and Facebook until this year. Now, I have trouble wondering how I lived without.

But it has its drawbacks. Because I liked the idea of Twitter being a great news service for movies, I followed a number of Twitterers (is that the right term?). Aside from Variety, which was part of my weekly reading routine in college and thereafter, I get the news from horror sites like Bloody Disgusting and Dread Central. And it was Dread Central that began touting the film “Terrifier” and its monster, Art the Clown.

To be honest, I became hooked. My son is the keeper of Netflix in the house. Recently, he decided to go to Hulu. “Terrifier” did not premiere until September, and we thought that his subscription would run out at the end of August. Well, that isn’t how it was and I was able to watch the film.

The Movie

We see a mother and father taking their very disfigured daughter back to work as a costume designer, being supportive and helpful. It is obvious that she has been through a lot. We’ll find out more about her later. We have to, the filmmaker walks away from this scene and doesn’t tell us any more about these people.

Let’s set the stage…

Halloween Night. Two teen girls stop at their favorite pizza joint before heading to a party. In comes a man in a clown suit. One of the girls makes fun of him, to the point of sitting on his lap to take a selfie. Meanwhile, the other girl seems to catch his eye. He sits with them for a bit, not uttering a syllable. He is so taken with the other girl, he gives her a ring. Then, he toddles off to the bathroom. Shortly thereafter, one of the employees throws the clown out of the pizzeria. It seems that he scrawled his name, Art, on the wall of the men’s room in feces. From there, things begin to spiral.

The owner of the pizzeria finds his employee’s head on the counter, and then he is dispatched by Art. The girls are chased by him and make unsuccessful attempts to hide. Add a third woman, who tries to reach Art’s soft side by talking to him about a mother’s love. One of the girls, who we are led to believe will be the heroine of the film, manages to call her sister. She, of course, heads off to find and try to save her sibling.


Tell Mama your troubles…


In the meantime, Art catches the girl who made fun of him. After he disables the other girl, he shows his prize to her. Taking a page out of the Ed Gein songbook, the girl is naked and chained upside down. Art turns her into twins with a hacksaw.

Another fight ensues between Art and the girl (our “heroine”) he gave the ring to. She is getting the upper hand. Art is down and it looks like he isn’t getting back up. She to beat on him. And then….


Here is where the film falls apart. If your intent is to see this film “spoiled free” (yes, he did say spoiled), stop reading here and look at one of Brundlefly Joe’s brilliant film reviews. He handles this kind of event better than I do.


And then…

Art pulls out a gun and shoots her.

In the long-storied history of slasher films, no one who used cutting instruments as a weapon that I can recollect has ever used a gun to kill his/her victims. But that is what Art does. (The film “Ms. 45” used a gun from the start. It doesn’t count.)

The sister arrives too late to save her sibling. The homeless woman was unsuccessful in turning Art from the dark side. She too is killed.


Art trying to get ahead…


I won’t go into too much detail, but Art disfigures the sister before he himself is killed, ending his rampage. (Yes, the woman at the beginning of the film is this woman, now horribly disfigured.) Art is carted away to the morgue, where there is a weird lightning strike. When the attendant zips open the body bag, Art, very much alive, strangles him.


Quick shot back to the costume designer, who goes nuts and starts strangling an actress she is working for.


So let’s think this through for a moment. If Art the Clown has been stabbed in the eye, beaten, shot and otherwise laid waste to, yet gets up from the body bag and strangles someone, that would indicate that Art is a supernatural creature. Then, why the gun? I know I am harping on this point, but for me, the film loses all credibility as soon as the gun is used. To say that it disappointed the crap out of me is an understatement, because, until that time, the film was actually pretty good.

Art the Clown is a great character. No matter what happens to him, he doesn’t make a sound. There is pantomime laughter and no cries of protest or pain as he is being beaten. Nothing. David Howard Thornton is absolutely brilliant in the role. He is one of the scariest clowns in film history. And I can say that having never seen either version of “It”.

If you are a gore fan, you’ll love some of the over-the-top effects. If clowns scare you, this film will fund a number of therapists’ children’s college education. Sadly, I think a great performance was wasted by a single, incongruous event.


The original short film from 2011 is available on YouTube. Please note, this is definitely NC-17 material and should not be viewed in the office at lunchtime. Even if I did it that way.

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About Ernie Fink

Ernie Fink has been a fan of film, mainly in the genres of horror and mystery, in equal parts, for over fifty years. His love of horror in the cinema begins with "King Kong" and in literature with Edgar Allan Poe and Bernhardt J. Hurwood.  With mysteries, he skipped from the Hardy Boys right to Hercules Poirot, only to find John Rebus and Harry Hole waiting in the wings. He has been known to read subtitles extensively, and rarely leaves a theater until the lights come up.
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One Comment

  1. I saw All Hallows’ Eve a few years ago, and then Terrifier when it VOD awhile back. I was pretty surprised Netflix picked it up, because their horror selection is notoriously poor and not at all edgy.

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