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‘Terrifier 2’ Review: Art the Clown is Solidified as a Horror Icon

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Art the Clown is back in town, and boy is he back with a vengeance. Directed by Damien Leone, Terrifier 2 picks up right where the first film left off, only this time, Art has his devilish sights set on fresh meat.

Starring Lauren LaVera as Sienna, and Elliott Fullam as her brother Jonathan, the two siblings are haunted by the silent clown on Halloween.

Terrifier 2 is a scary movie for the desensitized generation that feels like they’ve seen it all done a hundred times before. This gore-soaked gut-wrencher captured the spectacular peculiarities of Art the Clown as introduced in the first film while injecting new ideas and blood into the franchise. Check your feelings and stomach contents at the door: you’re in for a show.

Outstanding Performances

The first thing to be celebrated about this film is the terrific performances of the leading cast. Lauren LaVera is transformative in her role as Sienna, with her performance running the gambit from anxiety-filled worrier to powerhouse super-beast.

When our final girl kicks into warrior mode, her face seems to change shape, completely transforming; a feat achieved by fantastic acting, magnified by gorgeous costume design.

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Not only did this film create a new face of evil, but it created an iconic force of good as well. Sienna is a paragon of badassery, and her Valkyrie costume and makeup is a look I see gracing many a future Halloween party.

David Howard Thornton also put on an iconic performance in his role of Art the Clown. In one shot, he is a looming, ominous figure, and in the next shot, he’s blowing a bicycle horn and wearing sunflower glasses. He has this unique brand of contained insanity, and a big part of why that works so well is the way that David Howard Thornton embodies the Art persona.

Special recognition for this role is deserved since so much relies upon pure body language to get ideas across- everything must be exaggerated. It can be challenging to silently convey a wide array of emotions in full makeup without seeming like a cartoon character. Yet David Howard Thornton does just that. There is never a moment where Art the Clown feels like a joke or an actor in makeup. Thornton is Art and warrants praise for executing this role that operates on such a delicate balance.

Art the Clown is an Icon

Art the Clown tends to be polarizing. Either you love him, or you hate him. But no one can deny: Art the Clown has cemented his legacy among the horror icons. He is funny, versatile, and unequivocally terrifying.

Though Art is demonic in nature, the way he brutally shreds people apart with nonchalant glee and a lack of remorse feels like a cold reflection of the very things that humanity is capable of. This display of callousness and self-gratification is reminiscent of the same evil in real monsters like The Hillside Stranglers or Jeffrey Dahmer. It’s a reminder that evil walks among us. For this reason, of all the horror icons, I’m most scared of the guy in an Art the Clown costume.

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Also, Art has no standard method by which he kills. Like a good box of cereal, each kill has a surprise inside, as he slays indiscriminately with a multitude of weapons in various ways. Sometimes he indulges in some psychological torment first; other times, he gets right to business. He is an unpredictable monster.

In Art’s unpredictability, there were many opportunities for creativity in his kills, and Damien Leone seized every opening. Heart munching, hand splitting, and acid throwing are just some of the activities that took place in the film, and those are just the ones that I feel safe mentioning without getting us demonetized. Art the Clown has no hang-ups about throwing salt in an open wound, and Terrifier 2 is unrelenting in its presentation of gore from start to finish.

Unanswered Questions in Terrifier 2

One of the downfalls of modern horror cinema is the need for every single question to be answered. There’s magic in the art of storytelling that feels lost in many horror films but is recaptured in movies like Terrifier 2.

There seem to be unspoken rules to the universe in which Art the Clown operates. Right now, there’s room for interpretation, and this sort of film generates discussion. It’s a film that, after you watch it, you want to discuss and dissect, so it keeps you thinking about it. Try as you may to suppress the horrific images you’ve just seen; you can’t entirely dismiss the imagery because of all the nagging questions.

Terrifier 2 is a genuinely scary watch and a great time. I am raising my tiny Art the Clown hat in salute of Damien Leone, Lauren LaVera, and David Howard Thornton for a job well done.

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Watch Terrifier 2 in a theater near you or stream exclusively on Screambox later this fall.

A writer by both passion and profession: Tiffany Taylor is a mother of three with a lifelong interest in all things strange or mysterious. Her love for the written word blossomed from her love of horror at a young age because scary stories played an integral role in her childhood. Today, when she isn’t reading, writing, or watching scary movies, Tiffany enjoys cooking, stargazing, and listening to music.

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Christmas Horror Parody ‘The Mean One’ Successfully Converts Christmas Classic ‘The Grinch’ into a Scary Story

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If Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch was too tame a Christmas-hating monster for your tastes, never fear; The Mean One is here.

How ‘The Mean One’ Wins as a Christmas Horror Movie

This comedy-horror slasher, directed by Steven LaMorte, tells the story of Cindy You-Know-Who (Krystle Martin) returning to her hometown of Newville – where her mother had been viciously murdered in front of her twenty years prior. The sheriff did not take the young girl’s claims that a monster had killed her mother seriously, so the murder remained unsolved. Cindy’s return to town shows a Newville that is wholly undecorated for Christmas, and as a string of murders begins to occur, Cindy knows her mother’s killer has returned.

With the appearance of the Mean One himself and a good balance of campiness and horror, all spread out amongst an intriguing storyline; The Mean One is a fun Christmas horror movie that subverts a beloved childhood classic and makes it its own.

The Horror-Parody Version of The Grinch

One thing the film did exceedingly well was its presentation of The Mean One. The makeup effects were stellar in creating a monster who is at the crossroads of a terrifying cryptid and a holiday icon. From his dirty Santa coat to his black snarl, he checked all the boxes for how a Christmas-hating monster should look.

Of course, to talk about the monster is also to talk about the man behind the mask, David Howard Thornton. After establishing himself as a horror icon in his role of Art the Clown in the Terrifier films, it was fun to see him transcend another role as a horror villain. With another horror flick under his belt, David Howard Thornton is one to keep an eye on. So far, every character he has been behind has been creepy and entertaining, perfectly matching the film’s tone.

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The Approach to Campy Horror

A horror film with rhyming couplets interspersed throughout could never be completely serious, and The Mean One succeeds because it doesn’t try to be. However, the film is not without its creepy moments that would be well-placed in any modern-day horror movie. Like any good scary movie, there are dramatic reveals, emotional turmoil, and suspense building.

It also injects a sense of fear into the holiday itself as it makes the idea of celebrating Christmas a dangerous thing. It’s a delicate balance to create something that is not very serious but simultaneously creepy, and the film does just that.

The Mean One Tells a Story That You Already Know in a Different Way

When making a horror film based on a traditional Christmas story, the added challenge is changing it enough to fit into the horror genre but not so much that it becomes unrecognizable. The Mean One was clearly up to the challenge as it was able to interweave a story that mimicked the traditional Dr. Seuss style of storytelling, with plotlines of a typical scary movie, while still paying homage to the source material. The integration into horror was so smooth that it felt like it should’ve been a scary story all along.

The idea of presenting the recognizable holiday monster as a cryptid is a genius move and calls to question why the Whos down in Whoville never inquired about the existence of the creature who descended from Mount Crumpit to steal their Christmas away in Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

It was not only the Mean One that saw some subversion of Christmas lore. A white-haired bearded man with a red cap who seems to watch over the beginning events of the film (and is aptly named “Doc” Zeus) integrated a little bit of a real-life Santa into the storyline.

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Make no mistake; this film is not a high-budget, major Hollywood production. The blood spray effects are campy to the nth degree, and the movie is not without its flaws. But what it does well, it does very well. The Mean One’s appearance is gritty, fun, and familiar; the storyline is immediately immersive – altogether, it is an entertaining watch.

It delivers everything the premise promises: a presentation of a fun Christmas flick that we all know, but this time for horror fans.

See The Mean One for yourself in theaters on December 9th!

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RUN RUN RUDOLPH, KILLER ROBOT SANTA’S IN TOWN: ‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’ Review

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Seasons screamings, everyone!

I have another wonderful treat for you all, hot out the Shudder ovens. If you’re like me, that means your holiday evenings as a horror fan might be feeling a little bit empty in terms of festivity, and Christmas Bloody Christmas is here to make that right. I’m cheery about the film from the jump. Que raro!

Christmas Bloody Christmas follows what happens when an attempt to turn surplus military technology (a.k.a. killer robots) into friendly department store Santa animatronics backfires; our jolly old Saint Nick ends up painting the town redder than a candy cane’s stripes, terrorizing coworkers Tori (Riley Dandy) and Robbie (Sam Delich) amid their budding romance. Is the premise kind of dumb? Yes, but if you’ve been reading my reviews, you know dumb fun horror is my wheelhouse just as much as the highbrow stuff is. And just because something is silly doesn’t mean it can’t be well made.

Writer and director Joe Begos is getting my second shoutout of the year for his work. I thought the foul-mouthed dialogue of this movie sounded familiar, and that’s because he headed another Channel 83 venture I recommended for October, the 2019 vampires-on-drugs film Bliss. There are many similarities between the two directorially, though this is much more oriented for fun than the psychological nightmare Bliss was. Where Bliss was a dark game of Vampire: The Masquerade, Christmas Bloody Christmas is your classic slasher during the holiday season.

We’ve also left the Panos Kosmatos-esque territory of Bliss’s cinematography, which might be due to the influence of cinematographer Brian Sowell who previously made the film Beyond the Gates, another fun little low-budget horror flick I remember enjoying. Neon wasteland cinematography that is replete with a color palette tuned for blacklight posters and Christmas lights in every single shot, and every scene outside being caked in fake snow and decorations help the aesthetic this movie is going for feel fully realized.

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Composer Steve Moore who worked on both Mayhem and The Guest, two of my favorite action horror films, provides an impeccable score for this film of heavy synth rock with homage to some of the band’s name dropped in the film by our leads. And Josh Russell, who did makeup work for The Night House and a little horror remake you may have heard of called Hellraiser (2022), rounds out that group. The crew on this one is practically a perfect assortment of horror movie production irregulars.

Delich and Dandy have pretty good on-screen chemistry as dirtbag crustpunks who need several mouthfuls of soap scrubbed onto those tongues. Dandy in particular is a veteran of fun, romantic holiday movies, and it’s nice to see she can extend her range beyond being a forgettable Hallmark protagonist whose outfit stepped out of a JCPenney catalog. She makes for an enjoyable final girl for this.

The duo talk like their dialogue is on loan from the Hellbillies of a Rob Zombie film, but they’re believable as coworkers in a long-term “will-they-wont-they” relationship. Their exchanges are genuinely funny at points, even if they stay a bit longer than welcome. These don’t veer into trying to impress you with the character’s pretentiousness about music; they’re just two friends drunk and high on Christmas eve, talking about their flailing romantic lives and which of their bands has the best Christmas song.

Beyond characters, the meat of the film is Silent Night Deadly Night by way of The Terminator in its premise. And in its execution, it feels like a lower-grade SNDN film for how cartoonishly violent and mean the kills can get, and I mean that in the best way. A single axe swing chops a guy in half like it’s a board of wood at a kid’s karate class, several people get thrown around like ragdolls through objects, and there are plenty of fake heads and bodies getting demolished for the gore hounds in the audience. Even the robot gets severely jacked up with sparks flying and explosions.  The special effects are hammy, and I love it more for that.

But as much as I like it, this one isn’t flawless. I feel like our dear Santa could have had a stronger design, maybe with a solid mask, and played with more robotic physicality beyond what we get in the third act. The camera work can sometimes be distracting in its attempts to convey high tension, ending up feeling fidgety instead.

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And to be quite honest, I’m very torn on the films ending. While it’s very entertaining and we get to see the full depth of the crazy animatronic Santa we’ve been waiting for all film which I love, it also drags in a way that is funny for some and might be a bit grating for others. Ultimately some editing flaws are exacerbated by the film being an exceptionally tight 86 minutes (we’re talking stocking stuffed to the brim tight), so it could serve well to have a director’s cut.

BOTTOMLINE: Christmas Bloody Christmas is an over-the-top, grindhouse-y spectacular that gives you exactly what’s in the title. It isn’t your standard holiday horror fare where there’s usually more about the film to laugh at than laugh with, but it definitely isn’t humorless. It’s a solid little film that looks like it could make a reliable staple in the rotation of dumb fun holiday horror for many Christmases to come. You know, assuming you don’t get killed by a robotic Santa Claus before then.

Watch Christmas Bloody Christmas starting 12/9 on Shudder!

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