While writer-director Damien Leone’s All Hallows’ Eve (2013) was an anthology of ruthless and apologetically violent horror stories, each featuring the silent but deadly Art the Clown, which are viewed on a VHS tape that a young boy is given in his trick or treat bag on Halloween night, Terrifier is is one story, once again set on October 31st.
A practical special effects master, Leone is back as writer and director, and he holds nothing back in delivering far more gore than the first film, but it’s more than just bloody and extreme (though it is extremely bloody). Many of the images of mutilation are truly disturbing and horrifying.
Terrifier succeeds where many sequels don’t in that it is not really necessary for viewers to have seen All Hallows’ Eve before watching the new film, though I would definitely recommend it, as there are a few fun Easter egg references that only those that have seen the first film will get.
It’s late on Halloween night and Tara (Jenna Kanell) and Dawn (Catherine Cocoran), dressed as a sexy skeleton and scarecrow, are on their way home presumably from an evening of hard drinking and partying, when they stop at an all night diner, and are soon joined by Art. Dawn sits on his lap and snaps a selfie with him, but Art only has eyes for Tara, who is quickly, understandably creeped out and calls her sister, Victoria (Samantha Scaffidi), for a ride.
The hellish night of terror that follows for these three women won’t be spoiled here, and it should be experienced rather than read about anyway, because it’s pure uncensored exploitation-style carnage straight out of the grindhouse. It’s dirty, rusted violence that dares to you to keep watching.
Powered by a synth-driven soundtrack reminiscent of your favorite low-budget genre classics from the ’70s and ’80s, the film is completely relentless in its over-the-top gore and its varied, inventively ultra-grisly manners of death. Nothing, when it comes to the killings, is left to the imagination.
Part of what sets Art apart from most other slashers is that he is never above playing dirty, like drugging you with a needle or pulling out a gun and shooting you in the head. He doesn’t speak, but he does sometimes mime communication, and even his intentions. And you definitely know when he’s happy, or angry, or most surprisingly in this film also when he’s feeling sentimental.
Now played by David Howard Thornton, Art has a wicked sense of humor that the film shares, while elevating this wildly hardcore killer clown to Horror Icon status. It’s not enough for him to kill you. He’s going to make you suffer in the worst way imaginable and laugh at you while doing it.
While he still may or may not have supernatural powers, Art is never going to play by the rules set by previous killer clowns or slashers, making him all the more terrifying.
In its extremity it is certainly not for everyone, but fans of All Hallows’ Eve will adore this visceral, ferocious followup, and gorehounds will crown it a cult classic.
Terrifier will be released in limited theaters on March 15 and 16, and on Blu-ray and VOD in the U.S. on March 27, from Epic Pictures and Dread Central Presents, arriving completely “uncut”.
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