[Interview] Damien Leone Talks ‘Terrifier 2’, Creating a Horror Icon, and More (Part 2)

Continuing our new series of video interviews, Halloween Daily News recently talked to writer/director/makeup effects artist Damien Leone about creating horror’s newest icon, Art the Clown, making his mark in the genre with 2018’s Terrifier and its highly anticipated upcoming sequel Terrifier 2, celebrating Halloween itself, and lots more.

In Part 2 of our conversation, we discussed the origin of the sequel. “After I filmed The 9th Circle (2008 short film), I actually tried to make a feature film with Art the Clown,” Damien explains. “It was basically Rob Zombie’s 31, and this was like 2009ish. So it was Art and these two other demons abducting women, they all wake up in this abandoned place, and the three of them are just hunting them all night. It was another just bare bones, kind of crazy movie like that. And the lead protagonist was basically the Sienna character, who is the angel character that you see on the poster of Terrifier 2. Her name wasn’t Sienna, and the character has changed drastically, but it was still, the idea was this final girl dressed as this angel… That was my favorite character that I ever wrote, ever. So I knew, that character was always there, I knew one day I was going to bring that character back and actually finally make a movie with her.

“So she is the heart and soul of Part 2, and everything just revolves around that character. So I always knew that seed was there. And I wrote it relatively quick. When I actually had time to sit down and do nothing but write the script, I think I wrote it in like three months. And it just sort of flowed out of me. It came really, really natural, which is a good thing, I think.”

On what fans can expect from Terrifier 2, Damien says you are not ready. “It’s wild. I don’t think people have any idea what they’re in store for. I honestly don’t. (laughs) It’s so drastically different than Terrifer 1, but has all the elements that people loved about Part 1. But that’s just a fraction of what the movie is. We built this whole universe around that element of Art just being this slasher. It’s going to be really cool.

“It’s pretty epic. For the budget we have, it’s ridiculously ambitious. When we first were shopping it around, we assumed this movie was probably going to cost around a million dollars. That’s how big the script was. I didn’t even consider budget when I was writing it. I just wrote as if I was going to have a budget to make Star Wars. Any crazy idea I had, I just put into the script. And then you worry about it later, and you just chip away when reality sets in.

“We took it to this one company that was willing to make it for a nice amount of money, probably somewhere around $700,000, but they wanted me to drastically cut it down, and they wanted me to film it in 20 days with five days of pickups for special effects. When I tell you now that we’re moving into Day 70, I mean this is like a two-hour epic movie. It’s huge. It just would have never been possible. I just can’t even imagine what the movie would have been. Plus they wanted me to like give away the rights to Art the Clown, and I just wasn’t feeling it. 

“So we had to figure out a way to make it for a fraction of that price, but the miracle is that we wound up putting everything that was in the script into the movie. It’s just a miracle. So it’s all there, we didn’t cut anything out. That’s one of the reasons it’s taken so long to make the movie, because we didn’t cut anything out, and because all of these scenes are huge. We basically just have to stop production, and gear up for another big scene, so we’ll stop, and I have to build all the effects, and then we have to build sets. There are so many sets in this movie. It’s just so big. 

“To go from Terrifier 1, when you walk into this, you’re going to think you’re stepping into another dimension. I really believe that.”

Later in the interview, Damien says, “I’m trying to transcend the slasher genre and make something you really haven’t seen in a long time… We’re always trying to push it as far as we can, and deliver the goods above and beyond everyone’s expectations.” 

On finding the perfect leading lady in Lauren LaVera to play the pivotal role of Sienna in Terrifier 2, Leone says, “She’s going to be a star after this movie comes out. She is so good in this movie, it’s not even funny. It’s such a layered, complex performance. There’s so much drama in this movie, but not in a bad way. I don’t want you to think it’s still not the gritty slasher that Terrifier is, because it really is, but there’s so much character development and so much time spent on building this family. It’s Sienna, her brother Jonathan, and her mother. They’re like this trifecta throughout the movie, and it’s like their dynamic as Art’s working his way into their world basically. 

“Lauren was the only actress. It never came down to like two. It was her immediately. Once I saw her reel and I saw her physicality, and just her audition, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is Sienna.’ I couldn’t have asked for a better actress across the board… And she just happens to be the sweetest, nicest person. It’s just the best working relationship. I’ve worked with a lot of great actors and actresses who I’m very close with, I love them, but nobody has ever cared more for a character that I’ve written, possibly more than I have. That’s how much she loves the Sienna character. She has journals and notes of the backstory that she created… That’s a gift to a filmmaker. You literally just revert back to being kid, and it’s like, ‘Wow, we’re really playing and creating this character.’ I really feel like the two of us breathed life into this character. She’s so well developed. 

“I’m really proud of it, really proud of the work that she did with it. That’s what I’m most excited for is for people to see that character.”

Damien also talks about more of the challenges of independent filmmaking and offers some strong advice for aspiring filmmakers, as well as what it feels like know he has created horror’s newest icon, what the future may hold beyond the Terrifier films, and much more, including a special memory about the late great Sid Haig. He also pitches his dream project starring Sylvester Stallone, and which established horror franchise he would love to take on one day.

You can watch Part 1 here, and then watch Part 2 of our exclusive new interview with Damien Leone below.

For more Halloween news, follow @HalloweenDaily.

Matt Artz

Founded Halloween Daily News in 2012 and the Halloween International Film Festival in 2016. Professional writer/journalist/photographer since 2000.