Art the Clown has gone on to join the ranks of popular horror icons like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers as one of the cinematic boogeymen that give shape to our nightmares. After appearing in short films in the low-budget anthology film “All Hallows’ Eve,” Art became the center of focus in 2016’s “Terrifier” and 2022’s “Terrifier 2.” With just those three projects alone, Art has become an icon in the horror genre. His eerie visage has been featured on t-shirts, Halloween masks, and even was the inspiration for a look on “Drag Race U.K. vs. the World” (via Distractify).
Director Damien Leone has helmed all three films in which Art the Clown appears. He is his creation through and through. Leone wears his inspirations on his sleeve, with the “Terrifier” films being sendups to the slasher movie classics that feature Freddy and Jason and the like. In an unprecedented move, “Terrifier 2” was released theatrically in select theaters in 2022, totally uncut, unrated, and uncompromised featuring the director’s intended vision, a film clocking in at nearly two and a half hours long.
That film has gone on to gain $2.475 million at the box office to date, something which doesn’t happen too often for an independently released horror movie (via Bloody Disgusting). With a film as gory as the “Terrifier” films, any kind of MPA-mandated cuts to the film would reduce the impact of the over-the-top scenes for horror fans. One such memorable scene in the first “Terrifier” film from 2016, the hacksaw scene, was indeed inspired by another horror film classic.
The hacksaw scene in Terrifier was inspired by Suspiria’s giallo style
“Terrifier” director Damien Leone told Dread Central that the hacksaw death scene in the first “Terrifier” film from 2016 was inspired by the Italian horror classic 1977’s “Suspiria,” a movie from legendary master of horror Dario Argento. He said, “I wanted to try and approach ‘Terrifier’ with the Italian Giallo style of ‘Suspiria’ … So I would say the first kill in ‘Suspiria’ with the heart, was the inspiration for the kills in Terrifier. The scene is just relentless, it never ends … when the person should be dead they’re still alive … That’s the good stuff!”
The Giallo style Leone mentions is referring to a genre popular in Italy. Giallo films are modeled after lurid pulp crime novels that were popular in the country that were printed on cheap paper stock so the pages would turn yellow fairly quickly. Giallo translated to “yellow.” The Giallo style of filmmaking often features death scenes from the perspective of the killer, who usually wears black gloves and commits his crimes in agonizing gory detail for the audience to see. One such scene in “Suspiria” is the one Leone refers to in which a woman attending a dance academy is chased and stabbed directly in the heart before she is hung from the academy’s impossibly high ceiling.
Damien Leone is influenced by the gory slashers of the past
Damien Leone’s inspiration for “Terrifier” doesn’t stop at “Suspiria.” He told Dread Central about the hacksaw scene’s inspirations, “I’m just the biggest horror fan … Here’s the thing with most slasher movies, especially the American ones in the eighties, ‘Friday the 13ths’ and stuff, even if the scenes are graphic, you only saw them for quick glimpses, a few frames. Especially ‘Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter,’ they’re some pretty graphic and cool kill scenes but you only see a few frames and then it cuts away.”
Leone talked about Art the Clown becoming a new slasher movie icon and those who influenced his creation, saying there hadn’t been one in recent years besides Jigsaw from the “Saw” movies. He said, “Before that you had ‘Scream’ and you had ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer,’ but those weren’t the kind of slashers that I grew up idolizing. The more iconic ones, the more graphic ones, the grittier, the more violent ones are the ones that I really enjoyed as a kid.”
Leone told Entertainment Weekly that the hacksaw scene in “Terrifier” influenced him to top that scene in 2022 sequel saying, “There is a now-notorious murder scene, a hacksaw scene, in Part I that everyone walks away talking about. We tried to rival that scene [in the new film] because the really supportive fan base that we’ve had this entire time, that has really started to put Art on a pedestal, I mean, those are the things that they really want.” The sequel has had reports of people passing out or getting sick during screenings of the movie. While Leone says that such reports are a “badge of honor” for a horror film, he says, “I don’t want people fainting, getting hurt during the movie. But it’s surreal.”