I remember the first time I saw Damian Leone’s horror anthology All Hallows’ Eve. At the time, I was feeling a bit jaded about the state of horror—we’d seen almost everything there was to be seen, right? Nothing can possibly shock audiences anymore, not in a culture of “please everyone or please no one.”
Wrong. Wham! The anthology hit me like a truck, and I spent days (and long, sleepless nights) recovering from it. It was less of a movie and more of a portal, and now the demonic being known as Art the Clown has cut his way into the hearts of horror fans worldwide.
A few years ago, Leone adapted the anthology into a feature film called Terrifier, and just as I’d hoped, none of the brutal carnage was missing. In fact, Leone and company doubled down on their efforts to leave us…dare I say it…TERRIFIED!
This afternoon, I had the privilege of speaking with David Howard Thornton, who plays Art the Clown in Terrifier and Terrifier 2. Thornton took the time to fill CryptTeaze in on the making of Terrifier 2, the challenges of playing a silent character, and what we have to look forward to in the upcoming sequel!
CryptTeaze: How do you approach a character like Art the Clown as an actor? It seems like it would be a lot of work, since you’re working mostly with silence.
David Howard Thornton: Yeah, that was definitely a challenge for me, because I’ve never played a character like that. I’m also voiceover actor, so I’ve done like 200 character voice, and in the past I’ve always developed my characters around the voice I came up with, and I didn’t have that opportunity with Art because he’s totally silent. I was like, ‘Oh, jeez, what am I gonna do here?’ So I just basically delved into my love of great silent actors and comedians like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Mister Bean was a big influence there, Groucho Marx, Doug Jones…that’s where I found a lot of my inspiration from.
CT: Were you afraid of clowns prior to playing Art?
DHT: No! Not at all!
CT: How did you guys come to team up with Dread Central?
DHT: That happened due to Uncle Creepy, a.k.a. Steve Barton. Steve saw a screening out in L.A. when we were just doing little theaters here and there, and he absolutely loved the film and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this movie has got to be seen by the masses!’ So at the time he had connections over at Dread Central, and he went to them and said, ‘You guys have got to pick this movie up!’ At the time we were about to do self-distribution. We’d been shopping it around to different studios and stuff like that, and a lot of people weren’t having it because of the content of Terrifier, they wanted to make massive cuts to it if they were to pick it up. And we were totally against it, because we wanted to keep all that stuff in.
CT: That’s what made it special! You guys went to places that other movies just don’t go to!
DHT: Exactly! I’m glad Damian (Leone) stuck to his guns there, because I think that’s why the movie really resonated with horror fans. ‘Oh wow, they’re actually getting back to basics and showing the kills instead of just cutting away as soon as the knife goes in!’
CT: Yeah, I really can’t picture a PG-13 version of Terrifier…
DHT: Oh no! That would be like seven minutes long!
CT: With the first Terrifier being so impressive and successful with fans, how do you guys top it with the sequel?
DHT: Well, that’s definitely the challenge! But I think we’ve listened to all the critiques we’ve had, both positive and negative, of the first film. Damien’s taken all that to heart, and he’s improved from those critiques. So we haven’t pulled back at all from what we were doing in the first film, so you still have the over-the-top kills, you still have Art going full-out and stuff, and he’s front-and-center. But we’ve also added more of a narrative element to it, and there’s a story this time around. There’s a reason Art’s doing what he’s doing, and we’re also building up our new protagonist, so it’s not just Art’s story, it’s her story as well.
CT: Would it be fair to say Art’s met his match this time around?
DHT: Yeah, I think so! She’s a good match for him, I’d call her the Batman to his Joker!
CT: You’re a pretty big Joker fan, aren’t you? I’ve seen where you played him a few times in an online series.
DHT: Yes! He’s my favorite villain of all time, so that’s a dream role of mine to play him in a big capacity. I’ve played him on a web series, but I’d really love to play him on a TV series or something like that. It would just be a dream come true.
CT: Do you have a favorite actor who’s played him previously?
DHT: Mark Hamill, by far! You can’t beat his performance. He plays two characters that I’ve loved, the Joker and Luke Skywalker, and he just seems like he’s a really great person in real life, too.
CT: If Terrifier 2 is successful, is there a Terrifier 3 planned already?
DHT: There is! We would love to do a part three. We already have ideas for it, and we basically know how to begin the film and end the film, so now we’ve just got to figure out everything in between. But we’ve got some fun ideas. Some things that weren’t able to make it into Terrifier 2, we’re going to try to put them into Terrifier 3.
CT: Was the making of Terrifier and Terrifier 2 a pretty big collaborative effort between the director and the actors?
DHT: Very much so! And not just between the directors and the actors; a lot of the crew helped us put our heads together on things and come up with ideas. We’re always bouncing ideas off each other and building off each other’s ideas. We all have a stake in all this, and we all want it to be the best it can be, so it’s a very collaborative effort.
CT: Has there been a release date set for Terrifier 2?
DHT: Not yet! We originally wanted to release it in October, but because of the stupid virus we’re still not finished filming yet. We stopped filming for a few months there, but we’re about to finish up finally, so we’re going to try to get it out as soon as possible. It really all depends on what we do with distribution and stuff like that after it’s all edited and cut.
CT: Is there anything you’d like to add about Terrifier 2?
DHT: Just a big huge ‘thank-you’ to everybody who’s been supporting our film, both Terrifier and Terrifier 2, especially those who donated to the IndieGoGo campaign we did last year. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing with this film. That pretty much funded most of the film in a lot of ways. This is a film for fans and by fans, I guess you could say, and I think everybody’s going to be very happy with the final result!
CT: I’m extremely excited about it!
DHT: Oh, I am too! You guys have just a small taste of it in the trailer, and there’s so much more going on in this film! It’s a fun film, and that’s what I love about it. We’re getting back to just having fun.