There’s this slasher sequel TERRIFIER 2 that just had a limited 4-day theatrical release, with some positive reviews. I didn’t see it, but it made me pay more attention to the existence of the TERRIFIER intellectual property brand. I had previously not paid much attention because I had seen pictures of the ugly clown it stars. I respect and support Killer Klowns from outer space, and IT is pretty cool, and I liked THE LAST CIRCUS if that counts, but in general I think an evil clown is about the corniest, most obvious, off-brand Halloween mask bullshit there is. Especially this type where he has a demonic face and teeth trying hard to do the work that the clown makeup is supposed to do on its own by accident. Wasn’t the idea that clowns are scary in the first place? When you have to turn them into monsters isn’t that admitting you don’t really believe that?

Anyway, this writer/director Damien Leone has made a career out of his “Art the Clown” character, first in a series of shorts that he turned into the anthology ALL HALLOW’S EVE (2013), then the two TERRIFIERs. TERRIFIER (2016) is the shortest at 86 minutes, so I decided to start there.

It takes place on Halloween, which I appreciate in an October viewing. And it achieves a pretty believable Halloween-in-the-city feel. Two friends, Tara (Jenna Kanell, THE BYE BYE MAN, Step Up: High Water) and Dawn (Catherine Corcoran, RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH VOLUME 1, uncredited murder victim in THE LOVELY BONES), are out getting drunk, wearing lots of makeup and costumes that upon examination are discernible as Hot Skeleton and Hot Scarecrow. They came in Dawn’s car, but she’s too drunk to drive now, so they decide to get some late night pizza slices. First outside, then inside, they’re stared at by this clown (David Howard Thornton, the Joker in some Nightwing fan film) carrying a garbage bag. Dawn thinks it’s funny and tries to talk to him, Tara (in the more-perceptive-of-the-danger-at-hand Final Girl tradition) wants to leave.

Of course Tara is right, and soon she’s the main target of the clown’s rampage of over-the-top gooey murders, stalking her through a nearby building and encountering others, such as a homeless lady (Pooya Mohseni) who thinks a doll is her baby. (Not even the doll is safe.) Meanwhile, Tara’s sister Vicky (Samantha Scaffidi, DEMON HOLE) is on her way to give them a ride home, making her a potential rescuer or victim. Director Leone is also credited with the special effects makeup, and of course the plot is largely an excuse to string together fanciful latex gross outs. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, in fact I think that’s a proud tradition of this subgenre, and this does it better than many.

From the opening, with its drippy blood font, gloomy synth score (credited to a Paul Wiley), grimy atmosphere and retro talk show playing on a tube TV, this immediately seems like one of those post-GRINDHOUSE and HOUSE-OF-1,000-CORPSES exploitation-movies-in-quotation-marks. We’ve broken the irony barrier, we’ve violated the prime directive, it’s hard to make horror movies that don’t seem preoccupied with where they fit in in the history of horror movies, but I want them to feel like they’re actual movies at least. Not like fake movies that would be on a TV or drive-in-screen in a real movie.

TERRIFIER seems right on the edge between those two dimensions, but I think it passes on the sincerity of its lead performances. It avoids the easy mistake that many manufactured scumbag movies make of having bickering asshole protagonists or going full Troma and making them seem like parodies of characters more than characters. I’m not saying Tara and Dawn are fully fleshed out human beings, but they are credible by b-movie standards, they have a believable friendship, I wanted them to survive. And when stereotypical supporting characters like the guy working at the pizza place (Gino Cafarelli, BIG FAN, and Frank Rizzo in THE IRISHMAN) and an exterminator (Matt McAllister) who lets Tara into a building to use the bathroom show them normal human kindness and/or macho protectiveness, that seems kinda comforting in the midst of all this self-conscious transgressiveness. Gave me something to latch onto.

And I’m happy to say the clown is a better character than I expected. In the context of the story I imagine he’s some young misogynist using Halloween as his disguise to live out his fucked up fantasies. Or maybe he’s an actual demon who sometimes goes out for pizza – who knows? I’m glad there’s no explanation, and the performance is effective because he mugs and mimes but doesn’t speak – no one-liners, no sounding like a wannabe Freddy. So to me his “funny” expressions and poses while terrorizing innocent people work as him being funny only to himself, or faux-funny only to show how little he thinks of his victims. The opposite of the clown’s job of making others laugh. It makes him a very hatable villain.

Many will also find it a hatable movie, because it certainly delves into the performatively over-the-line, as foreshadowed when one of the clown’s first transgressions is to splatter shit all over the pizzeria toilet and write his name with it. (Without knowing “Art” was his name it would seem like a different statement. But I wonder if that was supposed to be how they knew to call him “Art the Clown” on a radio broadcast like a half hour later?) The movie’s biggest shock is a scene that must be why people told me this was garbage and “torture porn.” It’s not drawn out long enough to fit that loaded label for me, but it’s an extremely upsetting scene where Art puts on a little show for Tara (BIG SPOILER) revealing that he has her friend behind a curtain, hanging upside down, topless, and then saws her in half, I’m afraid, in the most offensive way possible. This is the type of spectacularly over-the-top gore that we honestly don’t get enough of in modern slashers, but because it’s framed as a sexual violation first you feel kicked in the gut while watching this thing that could’ve made you giggle in another context.

I don’t generally believe in moralizing about or drawing lines of where horror movies can go. I think this is meant to push things too far and fuck you up, so it’s successful. Personally, I would rather not have been fucked up that way in this particular evil clown slasher, and I would recommend it more heartily if it was allowed to just be sleazy fun. But that’s just me and you can choose otherwise.

There are a couple other cruelties the movie performs on the audience that were more successful for me. The big one is that (MAJOR SPOILER HEADED YOUR WAY) our lead Tara makes it far beyond the point of Marion Crane surprise death but still does not become our Final Girl or Survivor Girl. For me what makes it effective is that Art stops her by suddenly pulling out a gun and shooting her! You just don’t do that in a slasher movie, it makes Art a cheater, and made me want to see him taken down even harder than before. Fuck you, Art the Clown!

There are other odd touches of personality that I appreciated, for example that the first murder in the movie is not committed by Art, but by a horribly mutilated woman that we’re told was one of his victims, and then we spend the movie knowing she’s out there somewhere. That’s a strange idea outside of the usual formula. I also think there’s something about the way it’s lit and shot (d.p.: George Steuber) that reminds me of watching oppressively dark ‘70s and ‘80s horror on VHS without being a throwback or mimicry. Good use of a low budget.

I will probly check out ALL HALLOW’S EVE at some point, and definitely the sequel when it’s available. I already tried watching Leone’s only non-clown feature, FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE MUMMY, released the year before this one. It is a true modern b-movie in the sense that it seems to be sincere and that it was too boring for me to get through the set up. But in a way I think that gives him cred as someone who’s been in the trenches making monster movies. Maybe I should try fast forwarding out of respect.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2022 at 11:43 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

91 Responses to “Terrifier”

  1. When he pulled out the gun, that was of the moment I completely gave up on the movie. I became convinced they had no idea what they were actually trying to make.

    So strange to see such a different interpretation of that scene

  2. When he pulled out that gun, that’s when I knew I loved this movie. Art the Clown doesn’t give a fuck about your stupid slasher rules. He’d have killed Randy the second he started mouthing off and used his corpse to beat Sidney to death at the 55-minute mark. Art’s not just a vicious killer; he’s also a total dick. In a subgenre dominated by offbrand Jason’s, I appreciate a slasher with a little personality.

    Knowing that this one delightful little violation of slasher dogma is enough to outrage purists and puritans just makes me love it more. I hope Art breaks every single rule in the next one. I hope he uses an entire arsenal of guns. I hope he crawls through the fourth wall and stabs a pearl-clutching modern horror fans to death with a Fangoria Chainsaw Award. I hope he goes way too far way too often and I hope it pisses off literally everyone. I am so fucking ready for the genre to get disreputable again.

  3. It actually looks like the theatrical window for the sequel has been extended (at least if my AMC app showtime listings for this weekend are to be believed), on account of it actually performing super well as far as these things go. Which is fantastic, because I also couldn’t manage to make it for its initial slated run and I really want to support this kind of low-budget fare theatrically.

    I’m also heartened to hear that the writer/director has apparently heard the criticisms of this first movie (a VERY loose narrative and an ugly misogynist streak) and pivoted to address them in the new one. THAT scene is pretty damn gruesome but it also made me think “is this too much for me? This seems icky.” The point is certainly to push some boundaries, but you can be gruesome without being icky. If it turns out the new one actually HAS pivoted, it’ll make me roll with this scene a little easier.

  4. I’m actually surprised that this one has such a shelf life, leading to a sequel which is doing well theatrically! To me it seems like one of the hundreds of failed instant cult classics that we get every year in the horror genre. Y’know, the stuff you can find in the cheap-ass bargain bin of your local DVD store or deeply buried in the horror section of Tubi between all kinds of Asylum crap. But one or two years ago this suddenly became a heavily talked about fan favourite and now it’s actually some hot shit in the horror community.

  5. I only heard of TERRIFmania with this release of TERRIFIER 2, I assumed the first TERRIFIER was some Indie thing last year or something that had passed me by, it’s interesting that’s not what it is at all. But uh…doesn’t sound very appealing.

    And of course the idea that clowns are scary is a lie put about by Big Mime. That’s why there was all that anti-mime sentiment in movies in the 80s, we all knew then, but eventually Big Mime got to Hollywood, and next thing you know IT: CHAPTER ONE had a $123.4million opening weekend.

  6. When he pulled out that gun, that’s when I knew I loved this movie. Favorite slasher of the last decade, and I haven’t been afraid of clowns since I was six. I honestly can’t believe what prigs and puritans so many horror fans seem to have become if a little rule-breaking and a little transgressive gore can get their panties in a bunch like this. Oh no, the vicious killer broke the rules! He used a gun! He was mean to a girl! Somebody call Jamie Kennedy and get the Rules Police on this! Why isn’t it really about trauma?! IT’S ALWAYS REALLY ABOUT TRAUMA!!!

    I haven’t seen 2RRIFIER yet, but I hope it pisses everybody off. I hope it breaks all the rules. I hope Art crawls right out through the fourth wall and beats an Ari Aster fan to death with a Fangoria Chainsaw award. It’s about goddamn time horror got disreputable again.

    (Apologies if a similar—but much meaner—comment pops up. I wrote one yesterday but it got sucked up by the bot-blocker and I don’t know if it’s ever getting out of limbo, so I wrote this in defense and celebration of a maligned favorite.)

  7. Weren’t you the guy who once ranted about “horror movies that are so grimey and violent that they aren’t fun anymore and feel more like punishing the audience” or was that someone else?

  8. This is not that at all. It’s about a fuckin’ clown chasing cute girls in Halloween costumes around a warehouse. Anybody calling this torture porn is a ninny of the highest order.

  9. Wait, there’s a MEANER version of that comment? Yeesh.

  10. I’ve warmed up to this film somewhat. I found Art’s portrayal in All Hallow’s Eve much scarier rather than the ‘ain’t I a stinker?’ thing he does in this movie ( David Howard Thornton apparently has mime experience – which shows!) even though that movie was more of a gore effects reel than coherent movie. The women being graphically murdered put me off at first. I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, the less I enjoy seeing people (women especially) mutilated on screen. But I’ve seen this movie develop a fond following – among women too boot! Can’t say I put this on for fun, but I’m less dismissive than I used to be.

  11. The clown chases the cute girls and then sticks a chainsaw through her vagina. But at least there’s no talking and it’s only..TWO AND A HALF HOURS!

  12. I’ve seen torture porn and this, sir, is not torture porn. If you call it such, you don’t know the definition.
    The first thing I think of when I hear “torture porn” are the Hostel movies, because they clearly are almost the dictionary picture of torture porn.

  13. I’d bet if you added up all the violence and leadups to it in Hostel vs the violence and aftermaths of it in Terrifier it’s probably pretty close. If a strict definition of torture porn is literally having someone stuck to a chair and torturing them it’s not…but I tend to think of torture porn as more the idea that it’s not going for suspense, or even cool kills per se…they want to rub your face in a guy cutting off a womans breasts, leaving her alive and dancing around with the hair he scalped off her. It’s not so crazy to call it that really, it’s almost fetishistic in reveling in sexual violence.

  14. But mostly “Torture Porn” was a silly alarmist moral panic label popularised by tabloids. We’re all on the same page there, right?

    That’s not to say there aren’t legitimate moral questions about the violence shown in these movies, and what the audience is supposed to get (or does get) out of it, but I really did always find it to be a pretty silly term and I’m sad it seems to have stuck around.

  15. It sort of was, but also it was not a bad label because it was correct. We know what a slasher movie is. You call a movie a spookablast flick you know what you’re gonna get if you know that term. You say torture porn, you’re getting a movie that revels is people being tied down and cut up, or lingering, and many times sexualized violence that has sort of competing goals…to be repulsive but also the filmmaker is reveling in it, basically screaming “look isn’t that fucked up?”. I mean what subgenre of movie is Hostel or something like Chaos be? Rape revenge is a real label, why not torture porn?

  16. I haven’t seen this, but I find it shocking that ‘horror fans’ find a chainsaw in the snatch shocking. These are the same ‘horror fans’ that love Sleep-a-way Camp and Cannibal Holocaust, correct? I feel like I have to be missing some part of the equation here…

    [i]they want to rub your face in a guy cutting off a womans breasts, leaving her alive and dancing around with the hair he scalped off her.[/i]

    Is it a cool dance or like a lame dance? Maybe that’s the rub…

  17. I’m seriously going to get VERNS SITE USES REGULAR HTML tattooed on the back of my hand…

  18. To be fair, I hate summer camp slashers and Cannibal Holocaust is laughably bad.

    But probably people who love Cannibal Holocaust are loving Terrifier movies.

  19. Muh- I don’t think the films generally described as Torture Porn use (very obviously fictional) torture in the same way pornography uses (real or pretending to be real) sex to titillate the audience. I’m not naïve enough to pretend a large portion of the audience wasn’t just checking out these films to see how gnarly they would be, and I’m sure the filmmakers played up to that, but I still think you’re meant to be at least partially repelled by the violence and concerned for the characters experiencing it. I have seen the HOSTELs, but I’m more familiar with the SAWs, and I wouldn’t say they sexualise the violence; one of the traps in SAW III features a naked woman, but not in a sexualised context. They’re a pretty sexless batch of films.

    Our host did some pretty good rebuking of the term at its height in his contemporary reviews for HOSTEL II and SAWs I-III; J don’t know to what extent Vern stands by them 15 years later, but I pretty much do (and if you check out the SAW one you can even see a comment from me moaning about this very same issue last year!)

    But at the end of the day it seems I’ve lost this argument, the term is in fairly common usage, and I’m not denying there are fair moral questions to be raised about these films, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. It’s a minor irritation, one I should probably just let go.

    Also, I have never seen or wanted to see CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, and I’m happy to hand in any badges or cards I have to hand in as a result of this decision.

  20. Yes repelled by the violence but these movies still work in that porny way…fast forward that boring talky shit with the noncharacters and let’s see someone’s dick get cut off.

    They definitely don’t all use sexualized violence…especially Saw because they were looking for the big bucks, can only go so far. But to me, a torture porn movie is basically a movie that eschews the supernatural and goes for extreme and detailed brutality. And to me, I think flicks that could easily be included (especially because they came at the same time of the subgenre’s popularity) would be the Human Centipede movies, Chaos, A Serbian Film, the American Guinea Pig movies, the French extremity flicks. Plenty of sexualized violence in those.

    I mean it’s a term, and there is defintely a subset of movies that fit real nice into it. I’m not even saying Terrified is one, but if one day someone comes up with a term for that type of flick, fine by me.

  21. Oh yeah, should add one other bit about torture porn style is, I feel like few of them really attempt to be “scary” Or suspenseful. It’s like sure, people want to see people get killed in a Friday the 13th but that’s not all, they also like the scares and suspense, whatever there is. And considering how toothless a lot of the Fridays were after the MPAA got done with them, I think it’s true. But Human Centipede doesn’t care about that stuff at all. These are almost like dramas or crime movies but with extreme violence. Oh yeah, probably Devil’s Rejects is one too. Sure it ain’t scary but you do get a play by play scene of them sexually abusing that chick from Three’s Company and that’s what you’re there to see.

  22. Torture porn is in theory a perfectly fine label – the way I see it is that it isn’t porn because the torture’s supposed to titillate or be cool or whatever, it’s porn because the movie luxuriates in torture and realistic suffering, and it’s its one trick; you always ends up with more torture or suffering. So, to be rigorous, there aren’t that many movies that fit the bill unless you dip into the sleaziest reaches of indie exploitation and horror.

    The problem is that it’s always meant as an insult, right? A way to put down a movie that offends you. Porn has no artistic merit, it’s got nothing else going on, yadda yadda. And it’s never been reclaimed, to my knowledge. It’s also obviously subjective, depending on where you draw the line. But @muh, while I mostly would agree with your first list, I can’t fathom how someone would watch Devil’s Rejects and come away with the impression the movie only exists so Zombie could film that one scene. Just call the movie a pile of shit if you don’t like it, that’s perfectly valid.

    Based on the discussion here and other places where it’s come up over and over, I’m beginning to think it’s not a useful term at all. As pacman said, it just ends up being an easy way for people to take a swipe at genre stuff they dislike or didn’t engage with.

  23. I didn’t say the movie exists so Zombie could just film that one scene…but that material is what people go to a movie like that to see, and it is the big centerpiece of the movie.

    But a subgenre doesn’t need a lot of movies to be a subgenre. Honestly how many actual rape/revenge movies are out there? Or Possessed Demonic Vehicle movies. Or, say, Killer Furniture movies would be an actual subgenre, like Death Bed or Killer Sofa.

  24. Only going to dip my toe into the discourse, because I haven’t seen this one and so I can’t rightly speak to how it plays in context/staging/execution… but Bone Tomahawk also features a character being bisected through their sex parts and I don’t recall it sparking a debate on torture porn.

  25. Dread Guacamole – it’s true Bone Tomahawk has a simikar scene, both being evicerated through the groin and in front of an audience, but the scenes couldn’t be more different.

    As a life long horror fan I’m pretty conflicted, I appreciate the ton of elbow grease that was put into these kills, but the bisection was nasty.
    I understand horror is supposed to be horrifying, but that scene feels like: A) it’s going on forever and B) kinda felt like an excuse to see vulva being chewed through; furthermore, that kill should disqualify it from the slasher genre more than using a firearm, Jason sure as shit never tied anyone to a chair so they could witness him slowly kill their friend.
    I guess I should be happy that an independent horror movie is finding some traction, but having watched both Terrifier and All Hallows Eve, I don’t understand the hype.
    Literally thought the Fear Street movies were better slashers.

  26. Can’t specifically talk about this movie as I’ve only watched All Hallow’s Eve (Prime for some reason decided to recommend it to me all the time a couple of years back). It’s a solid no-budget throwback anthology movie, and one of the stories sounds very much like it was a dry run for Terrifier; I remember liking it for what it was (the effects were pretty impressive, and it’s nasty as hell). A video nasty wannabe, willfully unpleasant and exploitative. Can’t say I’m surprised to hear about the bisection scene on his newer one; every segment of the first movie was based around a girl getting stalked and murdered, with implied demonic rape on at least one of them IIRC. Happy to hear he’s taken criticisms on board.

    Muh – the implication is that you’re passing judgement on people after ascribing motivations that aren’t necessarily there, which is why I don’t like the torture porn label. The Devil’s Rejects’ torture scene isn’t what everyone is there to see Devil’s Rejects for; Even for those that are, I’d like to think it’s as part of the package. For some of us it’s something to be endured, and if anything it’s the one scene I’d fast forward through in a rewatch (I mean, I wouldn’t, but if I had to skip one bit…)

  27. I disagree dread…maybe they are not there specifically for a specific scene of raping, but they re there to see that kind of material. No one is going to see Cannibal Holocaust for the plot, or Last House on the Left for the Hitchcockian direction. They are there to see disreputable sleaze, take that out and there’s no reason to go. Last House…you take out the long rape/torture scene, the movie has not a lot else to offer, it’s not that great. But those 30 minutes are powerful and take you through the rest of the bad acting and terrible cop humor.

    Regarding Bone Tomahawk, it’s not just a gruesome death that makes a torture porn style movie. What you need is the entire package. It’s actually done more clinically…the villains aren’t being sadistic, cackling with glee over the pain and suffering of someone. The movie doesn’t feel like it’s reveling in it. Nope, they do it dispasionately, there’s no long leadup showing the tools that will be used to kill this guy as a long haired guy is laughing and drooling about what he’s going to do. And the scene shows the reactions of Russell as much as anything. Now if the movie had 5-6 scenes like that, maybe we’re talking. But one single gnarly kill in a two hour movie that’s mostly dialogue and specifically not made to be a sleazefest to me doesn’t count. I’m like the Supreme Court in that way, I know it when I see it.

    If anything, Brawl in Cell Block 99 is closer to a torture porn, that movie is absolutely loving the sleaze and grime and grossness.

  28. And I can see why people have issued with the Torture Porn label, but honestly what kind of movie is Hostel? It doesn’t care about scaring you. It’s not a slasher. There’s some suspense but only in the sense of is this guy going to get out f the chair before his eyes get poked out, not like a ghost movie suspense. Like I said these movies could almost be crime films or dramas with extreme violence, there’s no supernatural aspect. Slashers don’t usually have a supernatural aspect either but at least there’s an elaborate costume of some kind and they’re based on suspense. So someone needs to come up with another term for these and popularize it. Torture Horror? Boring. Some Italian hack from the 1980s would want to call them “Cinema of Extreme Grotesqueries” to make their movie shot in five days while drunk sound better than it is.

  29. What’d I tell you? Ninnies. Ninnies everywhere.

  30. I’m glad Vern has fostered the kind of community discourse where anyone who disagrees is a “NinNy WHo gEts TrIGgeRed”. Veeery cooool

  31. I like some of those torture and rape movies, I think I’m just describing them accurately. Last House, I don’t know if even Craven would call it a scary movie. It’s horror in the way that some of those old dark house movies are horror…they have the accoutrements found in horror movies but don’t deliver the goods. I know when I saw Last House I was watching it for that long scene, without it why would I watch that movie?

    And my crack about a movie shot in five days was aimed at Italian hacks from the 80s, where you’d get a guy like Bruno Mattei claiming he didn’t make horror movie, he made “Cinema of the Fantastique.” Yeah right bud.

  32. I take back my earlier comment. Vern’s community is good and positive, it’s just Mr. Majestyk who’s a reactionary dickhead. Sorry folks, the rest of you people are rock solid

  33. I apologize for using such harsh language. Please don’t send a note home to my mom. I’m already grounded for calling my little sister a big sillyhead.

  34. Come on you guys should be happy, Maj actually stooped to liking a movie for once…at least there was no dialogue or plot so he was able to get through it.

  35. Dumb takes, shitty jokes, Maj has got it all!

  36. Guys, this is me lightly ribbing all these sensitive new horror fans we got these days. You know? Giving you a little shit, a little elbow in the ribs, nudge nudge? If you want to start hurling ACTUAL insults and not ridiculous grandma words that are obviously tongue-in-cheek and impossible for an adult human to take seriously, I’m gonna bow out because our host doesn’t like that shit.

  37. I mean, I just said I thought the gun was dumb, and you launched into a two paragraph diatribe about modern horror fans being oversensitive (when the fuck did I ever mention getting upset about genre rules?).

    If it was you lightly ribbing, you gotta understand text doesn’t have tone so people may misunderstand you.

  38. Ethan (Not Muh, who I don’t engage with and one of these days he’s going to notice that): It wasn’t specifically addressed to you, but I can see how it came off that way. I was definitely engaging in some light trolling and hyperbole, but people around here know that my bark is way worse than my bite. I tend to come on hard with a brash opening remark and then polish off the rough edges as the debate continues. I did the former without the latter this time. I guess I was enjoying playing the heavy, but if it’s gonna descend into actual unpleasantness, it’s just not worth it.

  39. Ethan – as one of the individuals who Majestyk was flaming, I
    don’t think he was being malicious at all.

    As a Millenial born in ’81, it’s my perception, that Gen X’ers are always trying to prove that they can’t be offended, and that millenials and zoomers are always overthinking things, we’re always having to ruin the transgressive fun by being offended and pointing out the obvious, like in this case the centerpiece kill in Terrifier was misogynyst as fuck.

    It’s essentially the entire generation realizing that they’re no longer the dominant force of culture, and I know that I’ll probably feel the same way in a couple years.

    Being called a Ninny is the cost of being a younger generation, it’s inevitable, I’ll just try and keep my snowflake tears to a minimum

  40. Okay, everybody shake hands.

  41. It’s not that I can’t be offended. It’s not even that I disagree that the kill was misogynist. My point is…so what if it is? This is a VILLAIN. He’s a vicious murderer and sadist. He’s not a role model. Why shouldn’t be he misogynist? Why shouldn’t we be disgusted by his actions? Isn’t it a good thing when a horror movie makes you feel, you know, horror?

    My beef with modern horror fans is that they seem to expect to be agreed with. They want horror that espouses their own values. I don’t. I want horror that shocks and surprises and challanges me. I hate being handled with kid gloves. I WANT to be appalled. That’s the POINT. You don’t know where your boundaries lie until something pushes past them. And to do that, sometimes you gotta take it too far. WAY too far. Way out past the point where a reasonable person would stop. And if you can do it with a little wit and style, that’s even better. Mean and funny is how I like it. So when something as vanilla transgressive as a little crotchwise hacksaw bisection causes so much pearl-clutching, I gotta wonder what some of these fans even like about horror in the first place. Horror is a genre where you can leave your morals at the door and walk with the monsters. Horror lets you be socially irresponsible in a safe venue. Otherwise, what’s the point? Go watch a psychological thriller or something.

  42. Yu don’t need to engage with me Maj, you can read the shit I write down just fine and that works for me.

  43. I’ve yet to see any of these Terrifier films but as a long time reader I’m a little embarrassed for a few of my favorite mouths putting their own feet in said mouths. I agree with points from both sides; I don’t want a world without a Brides of Dracula OR a Hills Have Eyes. I think there’s a bit too much “you’re narrowing the scope of horror by not making it THIS way” and that itself is a hubristic oxymoron.
    Like the ref said, tap gloves and go to your corners.

  44. Thanks for clarifying Maj, sorry that I came in hot.

    I do think it’s an interesting point though. We can discuss the approach or reasoning behind provocative or offensive things in art but the truth is when something like that actually lands and resonates we talk about it in hindsight like it was obviously brilliant. The truth is we don’t really know if something provocative is going to land or not until it’s actually committed to film

  45. There’s gonna be misses, and we probably won’t even be able to agree on what was actually a hit or a miss until long after the fact (and even that’s not a gaurantee).

    That’s why Terrifier 2 is going to be interesting. I feel like sequels are a good test of whether or not a creator understands their products and can tap into what really “makes” it. A lot of times a sequel will just repeat what was in the first movie and you realize they don’t really understand their own movie (which sounds really bizarre and pretentious now that I wrote it out)

  46. Majestyk – it

  47. Is Audition torture porn?

  48. Majestyk – I’m not clutching at Pearls and calling for censorship, if this is your favorite horror film in years, that’s your opinion, I’m not questioning it, but…. I think you’re being a little dishonest with the whole: we know it’s an appalling act, it’s being perpetrated by the villian so we all know that it’s terrible act we’re horrified by.

    Go read the comments over at Bloody Disgusting when this movie’s being discussed, and it certainly gives the impression that there’s a whole country of incels listening to Necro while furiously masturbating to the scene in question.

    Your beef with horror fans is that the genre has changed.
    I remember trying to bring this topic up in Vern’s review of Bereavement a decade ago; how it felt that horror movies were trying to bring more gravitas and drama into the genre, to a degree I think that it’s sucked the fun out of the genre by making everything about trauma.

    None of my comments were shots fired, Terrifier 2 is killing it, so it might even lead to a resurgence of grimy, exploitative, brvtal horror that you crave.

    I like my horror like I like my weed (different strains at different times) and at this time of year I just want fun, and even without the sawing, I found this movie to be as much of a slog as a A24 film, all Hallows Eve too.

    Chainsaw massacre ’22 was just one better recent slasher movie than this in my humble opinion.

  49. Jeffg, I think you could make a case that Audition is one, but I don’t think it is. Although Takashi Miike is even in Hostel because of the influence on Roth for making that flick. Audition might be a proto-porture porn the way that Psycho is a proto-slasher. You needed someone to come in and perfect the formula.

  50. Hahaha, Maj – ever the explorer in the furthest reaches of experience.
    Some time ago I would have agreed whole-heartedly with you. These days… well, I kinda still do, in principle, but the world has gotten so ugly that there’s some stuff I can’t get onboard with any more. I’m also a bit wary of empty provocation and I might bow out when I think there’s nothing else to it or no talent behind the cameras. Former me would definitely consider me a ninny, so thanks for the laugh.

    Muh – I kind of get where you’re coming from and don’t really take issue with a lot of your points, but you’ve got to see that the rape in last house to the left is the kick to the balls that gets you bloodthirsty for the revenge in the final act? I mean, it’s sleazy, disreputable, ugly, exploitative, and feel free to judge me for liking it – but there are a ton of better, more accurate words to describe the whole. It’s considered horror and yeah, sure, it’s not scary but it’s trying to push buttons, no other genre would have it, and the director went on to do horror stuff, so that genre stuck. Just calling it torture porn though is really reductive and just makes you look like you missed the point of the film unless you’re talking about just the offending scenes with no context.
    And yeah, I realize you’re doing some light trolling, but I have a friend who calls any movie with realistic, unflinching portrayals of suffering torture porn, which is not far from the position you’re espousing, and it kinda pisses me off.

    The porn tag to me gets at the fact that there’s no point to the torture, it’s just what’s on offer, again and again. Which is rarely the case and is a pretty good descriptor for a very specific subgenre. Hell, some of the stuff that qualifies that I really like, like Martyrs or even, to a much lesser extent, Hostel 2 (sorry, Eli Roth doesn’t do much for me and never has. Seems like a nice guy though!), it kind of makes me wince when they’re described as TP, because the label is so despective that it makes it seem there could be nothing interesting there even to people I’d think I can discuss these things with.

    Is despective not a word in English? Google says it is but every spellcheck I have rejects it.

  51. It’s not like I want the most brutal shit possible at all times. Honestly, I didn’t even think TERRIFIER was that extreme. To me, it feels like one of the fun ones, but with bit of a nasty streak. The Doorway to Ultimate Evil only opens a crack. Like, the bisection is pretty gross but it’s so over-the-top, I don’t see how anybody could take it that seriously. So hearing that many (not necessarily here–I came into this review already steamed from seeing all these Victorian dowagers faint dead away on Twitter, so that may have affected the intensity of my response) seem to take TERRIFIER as some kind of beyond-the-pale GUINEA PIG shit makes me feel even more out of step with horror fans. Like, really? THIS is too much? A fuckin’ clown with a hacksaw? I tend to find most of the acclaimed horrors these days to be emotional torture porn, the way they want to rub your face in slow-motion misery for two and a half hours at a time. Stuff like this is just a latex-and-Karo geek show compared to that. But I guess this style is out of fashion and I just need to learn to live with that.

  52. dreadguacamole, it’s hard where different aspects of something are being talked about at once…I’m not meaning that Last House is torture porn, I referred to it as part of the rape/revenge subgenre…which is like a granddaddy to torture porn maybe. And that I found it a little weird no one blanches at a whole set of movies being defined by the rapes in them…yet, it’s an accurate summation of those movies. But probably since that term was around in the 70s it got grandfathered in so all those horror fans just accepted it as a term of art. And I’m not trolling, the rape stuff is usually the stronger material and until more recently, was the main draw. Nowadays they seem t push past the rape stuff quicker (cause people being offended) and drag out the revenge. But in Last House, which I like (even though it’s super uneven) Compare the long, elaborate stuff the girls go through in Last House to the murders at the end, where the villains get bumped off quite a bit quicker. Like, we even see the girl getting their guts pulled out in close up, and then it’s time for Krug to take a chainsaw to the face and it happens OFFSCREEN? Of course its hard to top the midsection and probably best not to try, I think Craven made the right choice, although still…

    And actually that made me think of another good barometer of a torture porn…there is no revenge at the end generally, they’re all downers. Cause the point of those movies is “isn’t that fucked up,” and you can’t be fucked up if the victim or a surrogate chainsaws the villain to death. Rape/revenge flicks aren’t exactly happy endings, but in the end there feels like some justice was achieved. Even a movie like Terrifier works in that way, the villain is dispatched but don’t worry because he ripped that chicks face off and she’s crazy now and isn’t that fucked up?

    But to say the torture porn label is reductive…well yeah but all labels are. “Slasher?” There’s wide difference between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Scream…or shit, even between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

  53. @Muh it’s fine, I get it, and I see where you’re coming from even if we disagree with some of the particulars. My problem with the Torture Porn moniker is not that it’s reductive- that’s part and parcel of applying labels, as you said- it’s that it’s dismissive in and of itself. That’s also a problem with a lot of labels, but it’s not one ‘rape revenge’, or ‘exploitation’, or most genre names have.

  54. Yeah that makes sense, it is a dismissive label. Well, I guess that goes hand in hand though…filmmakers want to make some disreputable shit, they may get a disreputable label from the mainstream. Probably the most dismissive of all…the second? I’m looking at you, Hagsploitation movies.

  55. I’m gonna be real curious to hear Maj’s take on Terrifier 2. I think he might hate it. I’m not sure I can call it good, exactly, but I also can’t stop thinking about it. It’s just the damnedest movie.

  56. Part of my problem with the torture porn label is yes, it is almost exclusively used to be derogatory and maybe as a result it is most often applied to movies that don’t fit my understanding of the definition. Just horror movies that somebody doesn’t like. Even in movies where I see how it applies, like the HOSTEL series (which I think was what popularized the term?), it seems like a total misunderstanding of how the movie works – you’re absolutely supposed to be wincing at the parts where the torture eventually happens and rooting for them to get away. (And by the way, Muh, doesn’t he go back and get revenge in HOSTEL? Do I remember that wrong?)

  57. So can the overarching element of trauma BE a part of horror stories? That seems to be a big argument here and a crux I can’t understand.
    I’ve been reading horror stories and watching horror films my entire life (King Kong forever).
    There are SOOO many ways to knit a scary yarn that I honestly yawn when people use their personal ideal of horror as a detriment to a well weaved and imagined bit of spook (Antlers, most recently).

    I don’t really know what to say as someone who takes literary horror the same way I take filmatic horrors.

    I know Vern is a fan of Offspring and The Woman, but dude; have you read The Offseason?
    Best TCM riff ever.

    Could Richard Laymon’s The Cellar work on film?
    Fuck yes. Laymon wrote the fuck out of 80’s horror “here’s what you want” novels.

    Midnights Lair is literally The Descent 30 years prior and, honestly, a more interesting set-up.

  58. Vern – exactly

    You’d never want to apply it to stuff you like. I love Martyrs (well, not love, but I do think it’s great), and it fits the label to a tee as long as you understand it’s not literal porn and you’re not meant to get off to the torture. But… I’d never call Martyrs torture porn because it’d seem like a betrayal and it misses what I think makes it good. Reclaiming the label would seem to say yeah, it’s shit but I like it, which is not the case. So personally I think I’ll refrain from using it except for some of the Guinea Pig movies and other snuff simulations.

  59. I’m just saying all the hand-wringing and hand-waving is very, very reminiscent of the Splatterpunk vs. Quiet Horror of the 80’s and early 90’s.
    If Vern hasn’t read ‘Brian DePalma; Movie Brute’, then let me turn the dial back a bit.
    I still haven’t gotten a cinema version of Schow’s ‘Not From Around Here’ and I’m ever pissed.
    It’s right fucking there Ari!
    But whatever. The scariest shit is in prose (Jack Ketchum asks “what’s in the Box?”) and film is the catharsis, the easy way of digesting prose that hurts. Block’s Psycho is a messy portrait of mental imbalance, Hitchcock made that prose visually sing while omitting much of the seedier parts.
    Does that make it suck in comparison?
    I just don’t get it. Sure, I want to see horror stories told in the way I inherently enjoy but it doesn’t mean I reject any story that stretches my zone.

  60. I mean, c’mon. The best *insert here* genre flick of the last couple years is Psycho Goreman which felt like a more worthwhile genre-flex than a scary clown chopping lady parts. It was genuinely transgressive. SNICK meets Hakaider. Cutting up women in a scary mask is kinda…*shrug* after that.

    Evolve, damnit.

    I want practical effects as much as anyone but I fucking hate it being a grace note to the “fans”.
    The Void is awesome because of the “I want to show you this but I know showing it makes it less scary”
    Thematically, hiding the horror is on point, Lovecraftically.

    Where’d I start? Uh, FX aren’t all but a script isn’t all either. Images, themes, acting stripped bare…these things make horror classics, yes? Or not. I dunno.

    Suspiria in either incarnation fucking rules, so…

  61. It feels…typically reductive to try to find a label for an exercise in genre tropes.
    Do we not come to these stories because of the genre “promise” we were given?
    Did you watch “Stand By Me” waiting for a scary clown to jump out from under the tracks?
    Tension contains multitudes and I won’t trade my Devil Rides Out for my Aliens.
    I don’t really like ghost stories so I steer away from/feel apathetic to them. Am I not a horror fan because of that handicap?
    I dunno. It seems talkbacks decide the worth of a scary flick nowadays, which reminds me of another ti—
    Keep the discourse civil guys. You owe it to the plebes like me who come here to read, not post a flag in the sand. We’re all here better than that.

  62. Pivoting slightly:
    Of the last decade, what horror films do you think will get a hard re-read. Which one’s thudded on release but gained real cred?
    What is the 2010’s The Thing? (You know what I mean)

  63. Vern you get a wee bit of revenge in Hostel where he runs into by chance, the one client who was torturing him. And he kills that guy. But the institution still stands, and he didn’t even go out of his way to track the client down or anything, it was pure luck. And then of course five minutes into part two the guy gets murdered.

  64. Caught the new one last night. Definitely the Snyder Cut of slasher movies, and I mostly mean that in a good way. Yes, it’s long and self indulgent, but that opens the door for all this extra weirdness. There’s a little girl version of Art that he hallucinates (or something) throughout the film and she is creepy as fuck. I don’t know if it “tops” the hacksaw kill in the first one, but it certainly equals it in one scene in a bedroom that goes for much longer than you think it’s going to. Truly a punishing scene. It’s almost funny in how it just keeps not ending, but it’s so gruesome I couldn’t bring myself to actually laugh.

    This is also the 4th 2022 movie I’ve seen that features a hand split down the middle between the fingers and the 2nd in a 24 hour period.

  65. I suppose if we’re doing torture porn discourse in the year of our lord 2022, I might as well throw my two cents in. Torture porn is a useful label, but it’s a movement not a genre. It instantly brings to mind a handful of 00’s era horror films, and that’s the extent of its use. Wide release, mainstream gore movies something something Iraq war, and then they fell off the face of the earth and here we are.

    It’s a pejorative label, sure, but I don’t really see the reason to hand wring about that. Sometimes dumb names stick.

  66. You’re right. I don’t like it, but I’ve lost anyway and you’re right.

  67. Aktion Fig, your “planting a flag” remark reminded me of a comment from a heavy metal forum I post on: “I always roll my eyes when I hear all the seperate sub sub microgenres being created and disputed. The boundaries defined and rigorously policed like the most contested borderland.”

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the phenomenon exists in both extreme metal music and horror. There’s a utility to the practice given that you might be a horror fan but also be very averse to specific kinds of horror. With metal, it’s seems very convenient that all the death metal bands use that really specific illegible writing style for their band logo because it makes it easy for me to ignore ’em, but the fallacy of this approach is that all these divisions and labels are ultimately pretty coarse and imprecise so you probably end up missing stuff you’d enjoy.

  68. Aktion Figure, What you’re saying seems kind of contradictory. You think labels are reductive but then you talk about what a genre promise is given, and then how helpful labels can be but then you’re not a horror fan for not liking a certain type of movie? It’s kind of like you’re all over the place and not sure if you’re even pro, con or apathetic to labels.

    But you kind of hit it when you talk about genre tropes and what they promise, but “horror” is not a promise. This is where subgenrs are handy. I have a friend who mostly wants to watch extreme horror, so if he hears “torture porn” or “cannibal movie” he’s in. But like you, a haunted house movie, which is a subgenre of horror generally promises totally different things…usually slower pace, spookier more subtle stuff, unless the date is after 2016 where you can just expect constant jump scares.

    To be honest I think labels are just handy marketing that helps get the correct audience to the correct movie. Me, I’m less about the subgenre than the genre in general, you say horror and I’m at least interested, but there are definitely ones that have me more interested (ghost movies or creature features), those that are generally not that interested unless it looks particuarily interesting and I hear good things (torture porny stuff and found footage).

  69. I suppose I should clarify that none of my comments were striving for excellence but more off-the-cuff bar talk. However, I’ll have ruminate on what meant to say and maybe in a day or two, I’ll crack the code.
    It provoked thoughts and emotion, brought something visual and audible flair, made me shift in my seat uncomfortably, made me chuckle inappropriately?
    I know there’s more to it, but when I hear “horror”, I guess that’s the material I want. When we start up with “emotional scars being overcome through a genre” I admittedly get a little leery. Maybe that’s a slight on modern horror or my attachment to the 80’s feel that I am nostalgic for. Having said that, I fucking hate Hatchet but adore Mandy. I fucking hate TCM-re-pull-the-starter but kinda vibe on TC (2022!).
    Good question.
    I’d be interested in hearing why, say, Deep Rising is risibly inoffensive action-horror but why The Mummy is wrong-headed? (And I dig Deep Rising far more personally)
    Is Green Room as strong as Assault on P13?
    I dunno.
    One thing, to you Vern, that I appreciate is that you avoid comparisons directly and you usually refrain from the worst criticism, “Here’s how they should’ve done it” and defend what’s there without a 1:1 on what it could be. The former is just a cul-de-sac while the latter is a highway.
    I’m rambling again ladies and gents.

  70. So many dropped articles. I apologize.

  71. I think not only is Green Room better than Assault on Precinct 13, but there’s a little known movie called Siege which is better than both of them!

    I’ve never been a huge fan of 13 It’s okay but really don’t buy the premise even in the way Carpenter knows it’s silly. Also funny how all the well-armed gang members forget their guns when it comes time for close quarter combat. And maybe that could still be okay but the action is just 70s generic. Guy tries to get in the window, guy gets shot. Another guy comes in that window, guy gets shot. Green Room and Siege both have each side of a smaller number of participants doing reasonable, smart things trying to outwit each other and goes for suspense.

  72. The success of Terrifier 2 also got on my radar but it took Vern reviewing this for me to pull the trigger. I mostly liked it and I was uneasy about the hacksaw kill. It is most certainly a bravura kill scene and one hopes the actor consented to filming her portion of it so she was on board. It is pushing a button and there is the issue of exploiting sexual violence horror always reckons with. I mean, some people’s line was the tree in Evil Dead. I guess I’ve gotta ask myself if I’m ok with the tree and the head scene in Re-Animator why is a saw to the crotch past my line? At the very least I know who not to recommend Terrifier too.

    Guess I need to see All Hallow’s Eve since Terrifier 1 was already a franchise. I’m definitely interested in Terrifier 2 and glad to hear it course corrects in some regards.

  73. Apropos of nothing, here’s me recommending Glorious to any who haven’t seen it. J.K. Simmons as an elder god is all I’m sayin’.

  74. I also liked GLORIOUS and think it pairs well with DEADSTREAM in terms of single-location one-man-show type horror. I don’t think it sticks the landing (the twist adds nothing, in my opinion) but at 79 minutes that’s less of a problem than it could be in a movie you’ve invested more time in.

  75. You are correct about the twist. It’s fine by itself but it has fuck all to do with much of anything.

    I also watched Deadstream the other day. I…liked it but I have to admit, today I really don’t remember much from it.

  76. Caught this last night – kind of surprised to read up and see consternation about the hacksaw kill – Like a lot of people, over the course of my 20s and early 30s I’ve become a lot more sensitive to simulated violence and find things too much that wouldn’t have bothered me at all at 18.

    It’s funny really, people talk a lot in moral panics about kids getting desensitised but I think they’ve got the trajectory all wrong – you get more sensitive as a rule. Stuff bothers me I never would’ve thought possible as someone who sat through all sorts at a pretty young age.

    But this scene isn’t one of them – it doesn’t even register really – I think largely because a hacksaw obviously couldn’t do that! It just feels like the scene works as basically Itchy & Scratchy violence in live action. He may as well chase someone off a cliff and have them run on air. It just doesn’t trigger my brain’s relation to actual human suffering at all.

    Memorably OTT though. The Zahler scene it reminds me off is less Bonesaw Tomahawk and more that insane bank teller sequence in Dragged. (I’m not sure what Zahler’s up to at the mo – i saw one of the studios he was involved with pivoted to just making psuedo fascist alt right films or whatever – is that a ship he’s going down with? Shame if so as he’s very gifted)

    Had a good time with this film overall, looking forward to catching T2. (And I love seeing how over the moon the cast and crew seem to be at the reception – really lovely moment for what started out as a 50k crowd funder).

    This film looks cheap but its one of those cases where it is easy to underestimate the skill required to take a 35k microbudget picture and make it look like it cost at least five times that (so still microbudget). Think the special sauce is unsurprising really – it wears its financial constraints on its sleeves but they kind of fall away whenever Art’s on screen.

    He’s just fun to watch in a way you can’t put a price on. Think they managed to find a gap in a very over-saturated corner of horror – the 80s horror icon, freddy, jason, michael thing – by just coming up with a guy who is, at the end of the day, a total cunt. He’s somehow totally silent but captures the energy of like, a very specific type of guy, your twitter trolls and so on, edgy, weedy would-be-bros. Think that’s part of why he’s resonated and given this series some real legs (and, calling it now, Terrifier 3 will make 40 mil domestic)

  77. @Steven E: Zahler put out a graphic novel last year and has one coming before the end of this year, as well. He’s writing *and* drawing– but the art is a little too crude for me and the price point is a little too high for me to pick it up on a lark, so I haven’t gotten to them yet. Great titles, though– “Forbidden Surgeries of the Hideous Dr. Divinus” and “Organisms from an Ancient Cosmos.” I think he is also still writing novel-novels.

    That scene in DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE is maybe the most upsetting/violent thing I’ve seen in a movie– and I’ve seen a lot of shit. Not sure if that makes me more or less likely to jump onto the TERRIFIER train.

  78. I was into Zahler for about five minutes but DRAGGED was so awful that it killed any interest in him going forward. Anybody who could fuck up a simple heist-gone-wrong movie that bad can’t be trusted. And that’s simply based on artistic merit, not even taking into account his obvious edgelord leanings.

    I was so done with the movie by the time we got to the bank teller scene that it barely even registered. Just another fucking detour on Zahler’s endless trip up his own ass.

  79. Finally saw this one last night and ended up thinking it was actually pretty good for what it was. It certainly captures that sleazy dangerous feeling that I tend to associate with some of the better low budget films of the past. But of course this one’s secret weapon is Art the Clown. What an incredible asshole! I think my favorite moment is near the end when the girl has chained up the doors to the garage or warehouse or whatever she’s in and a frustrated Art, after trying to get through ends up resorting to taunting her with one of those bicycle horns that clowns like to haunt. It worked so well for me because it didn’t seem so much like a gag but more like he was really frustrated and wanted to keep trolling her so he just grabbed whatever he had available to him.

    Regarding “that kill”: yeah it was unpleasant stuff. But I didn’t feel like it lingered long or turned into torture porn or whatever. It was a nasty gory kill in a movie which makes it’s nasty intentions clear from the outset.

    Regarding the gun: I thought this was an inspired moment. Even though I knew that there was a moment involving a gun, it somehow managed to surprise me when he pulled it out and shot her. It’s so rare to be surprised by anything in a slasher movie, so that was a great touch to me. And as Vern says, it makes Art a cheater and even more hate-worthy than before (and I mean hate-worthy in the very best way)

    I’m not really sure I buy that the victim somehow turns into a psycho killer herself and feel like that pretty great cold open doesn’t really feel earned by the end of the movie but I’m willing to hand wave that a bit.

    I’m definitely going to make sure to see the sequel and probably try to track down the anthology at some point. I don’t expect this will ever become one of my favorite series or anything, but I’m totally down to clown some more and also hope that this leads to some more new horror creators who are trying to make “dangerous” horror movies again. As much as I like “serious” indie horror, I would love a bit more variety in general and a return to feeling like you don’t know how far the filmmakers are going to push the envelope feels long overdue.

  80. Typo correction: I meant to say one of those horns which clowns like to honk, not haunt

  81. I can think of one other slasher where the killer pulled out a gun. The Hills Run Red. It was a good subversion there too in a wild DTV meta movie.

    It’s not a trick I’d want slashers to overuse but it surprised me in both of these, over a decade apart.

  82. The Hills Run Red was pretty good but I might be biased since David Schow wrote it.

    I wish more of his shorts would get adapted. “Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy” would be an incredible episode for Cabinet of Curiosities or “Bunny Didn’t Tell Us”.
    And, Jesus, I read it 20 years ago and “Not From Around Here” is still the scariest creature feature I think I’ve read.
    (And since Cabinet has done Michael Shea’s “The Autopsy” they really, really need to do “Fat Face” for season 2. It’s a fucking horror masterpiece.

  83. Having now tracked down and watched All Hallows’ Eve, I can say that SPOILER using a surprise gun is part of Art the Clown’s M.O. and not just something he does in one movie. See also: Smearing shit all over public restrooms and writing his name on walls using either shit or blood.

    Also, All Hallows’ Eve plays like more of a proof of concept or demo reel than a “real” movie, but still had some interesting stuff and fairly impressive practical effects. I don’t know that I necessarily NEEDED to watch all of the Art movies (and I still haven’t seen Terrifier 2), but it’s fun to have a new series to explore. Thanks, Vern and fellow commentors here. I probably wouldn’t have ever looked twice at these movies if they weren’t being discussed here.

  84. Having watched this, it’s a mixed bag to me. Pretty much at the level of a latter-day Friday the 13th or Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel, for better or worse. Lo-fi to the point of being DTV.

    Pros: Art genuinely feels like a unique horror villain and not “we couldn’t get the rights to Jason or Freddy.” As overplayed as the evil clown thing is, they do make that part of his personality–he’d have a totally different characterization if he were wearing a gas mask or scuba gear or something. And I appreciate that someone’s trying to be transgressive punk rock in the horror movie landscape. The kids these days need movies that would absolutely appall their parents and, let’s face it, Hereditary is not going to make anyone’s mom clutch her pearls.

    Cons: Very low-level filmatism. They have great-looking gore effects, but wrapped around scenes of obviously pulled punches from people supposedly fighting for their lives, people getting knocked down and clearly being filmed hitting the ground a day later, et al. I don’t want to be too much of a snob and say everything has to be Halloween, but you can be low-rent and still look like a real movie (see: Brian Yuzca, Wolf Creek, et al). This doesn’t even look like an episode of Millennium and it takes me out of the narrative.

  85. As for the hacksaw kill, you guys oversold it. I thought we’d be seeing pudenda getting sawed the way you were talking. Instead, it’s a pretty standard TCM ‘imagining more than you’re seeing’ kill. Definitely the centerpiece of the movie, and in poor taste, but Piranha 3D featured a man’s dick getting eaten by fish on camera. Even 21 Jump Street, a *comedy*, had a man’s dick getting blown off on camera. Now, in “the most extreme horror movie ever,” it’s too much for a woman to get her vagina hurt off-screen, while wearing panties? C’moooon.

  86. Did you think nudity was the concern?

  87. A little bit. It’s more gruesome in implication than in what’s actually depicted.

  88. I mean, if we’re going “metaphorically it’s sexual assault,” haven’t Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes (not to mention Alien) had literal, on-screen sexual assault in their DNA for ages? Personally, I’d rather see a magic trick gore effect over an actual rape scene.

  89. It’s no worse than any of the showstopper scenes in a Stuart Gordon movie

  90. Finally caught up with this one and Part 2. I’d been avoiding this on account of all the buzz around the stomach-churn factor, and although I did not run out of the metaphorical theatre puking and shitting my metaphorical pants at the same time, this one definitely was not my cup of gouged eyeballs.

    What is it that makes certain types of slasher violence more or less tolerable? I don’t really know for sure. I think with Jason and Michael Myers, part of what appeals to me is that they don’t so much seem to enjoy killing as they are simply compelled or programmed to do it. They don’t actually seem like sadists but more like sharks. Relatedly, their kills are pretty utilitarian and efficient. Drawn out or elaborate torture is not the objective.

    Art the Clown would be more like Freddy, I guess. Freddy is more of a classic sadist, and, relatedly, he likes to mug and ham it up. This notwithstanding, the gore is pretty tame by the TERRIFIER’S standards.It’s less upsetting than the gore in these films.

    A big theme in these TERRIFIER films is the desceration of the human face. I can’t think of any slasher movie I’ve seen that is so obsesseed with mangling reasonably sympathetic or grounded characters’ faces in really graphic, lingering ways. For me, it loses the fun and is just a bummer. I struggle to find it funny, and I struggle to find it meaningful or challenging. It’s just sort of a geek show. I don’t mind being upset in a horror film if I can find some sort of meaning or layers to chew on. But I do think Leone’s fixation on the desecration of the human face is an interesting and unique one in modern slasher history, and if I could understand what he’s going for here and if it’s anything more than “I like finding new ways for this guy to turn people’s faces into soup” — maybe I could find some way in here. But not so far.

    Probably the other thing for me is that I don’t like Art the Clown. His mugging and miming and bashful-cringe smiling. I grew tired of it really quickly. With Freddy, I feel like we took sometime before he graduated to full goofball, and I think I simply enjoy the character and Englund more than Art.

    Here is what I did like:
    1. The dark, dingy, late night vibe.
    2. The world-building and mythology building.
    3. The scene of Art assemlbing his bag of gear at the beginning — a nice “Freddy building his glove” kind of intro
    4. The full-circel deal with the talk show guest/ Art the Clown victim
    5. The lady with the doll for the baby
    6. The originality of Art — I don’t like or enjoy him, but I respect that Leone has done something different here.
    7. I like the power outage supernatural tape player scene in the mortuary where cosmic forces do their thing on Art.

    Also, I thought Art pulling the gun was fun. I did like his spirit of not playing fair, but I find everything about him so extra.

    I think what I have learned from this odyssey is that I more naturally gravitate toward the silent masked stalker types. With the more, expressive big theatrical personalities, that’s pretty polarized for me — it either really connects or really grates, and this was grating.

    Props to Leone for doing his thing, though.

  91. One other thought is that I don’t know if David Gordon Green or Danny McBride watched TERRIFIER, because I felt like they borrowed a lot of ideas here, including the particular approach to the head-as-jack-o-lantern gag and some of the face-mashing and even the notion of transmitting of a monstrous killer being able to transmit or awaken the evil in others through contact. I also felt that the human pin cushion / how-many-knives-can-I-get-into-this-guy’s-back scene in HALLOWEEN KILLS felt more like an Art thing to do than a Michalel Myers thing to do. Actually, it seems more like a significant escalation of Michael Myers’s curiosity and wry sense of playfulness that we see in the original HALLOWEEN (particularly the Bob stuff). I think I appreciate it more in KILLS, because it feels somewhat more grounded there (I’m as shocked as anyone that I’d have occasion to characterize HALLOWEEN KILLS as “more grounded” than pretty much anything else).

    Anyway, I don’t think that’s a slam dunk case or anything, but I feel like at least Michael must’ve gotten a hold of a DVD of TERRIFIER in the asylum and must’ve been watching it on a loop, appreciating Art’s commitment and studying his technique even if he probably shared my impatience for Art’s mugging and mincing.

    While I’m citing influences, TERRIFIER 2’s ghost girl definitely has that Michael’s Mom / white horse thing going on from Zombie H2. So, I guess it’s the circle of life/death.

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