In an age where there are no real horror icons left (and some of them are even locked in courtroom disputes) it seems as if it’s the clowns who are providing some of horror’s most frightening moments of recent years!
Pennywise the Dancing Clown is perhaps the most well known mainstream clown character to rise to prominence in the recent two part Stephen King adaptation of IT, which if you haven’t seen yet I would seriously urge you to go and check it out as it is brilliant. However there is a new kid on the block (geek points for the IT reference there?) who has taken the whole scary clown character to new levels. Art the Clown.
You can see him in all his glory in the featured image on this particular article and just to look at him, he looks absolutely terrifying with horrendous teeth and deliciously bright yet devilish make up with his tiny little hat and hook nose to really complete the look. There are some elements of Freddy there in his hideous visage – namely the eyes with evil in the centre of them and the rotting teeth that he doesn’t try to hide away, instead smiling his way through most of his scenes. There is one major difference between this clown and Freddy Krueger however – Art never utters a single word during the whole film!
David Howard Thornton plays the part of Art amazingly, it is his little nuances that give the clown life and, in turn, give the movie life as he lights up the screen every single time he is featured in a scene. Listening to the episode of Talk is Jericho podcast that Thornton guests on it turns out that one of his main influences for playing this part was the silent movie stars of the early 20th Century – it shows in the performance too. Art’s movement’s are very pronounced and precise and his facial expressions tell you everything you need to know about the villain’s frame of mind too – usually he is delighting in every twisted atrocity he carries out with the exception of one scene where it appears he becomes frustrated with one of his victims and doesn’t seem to take as much joy in killing her as the others and finishes her in a much more direct way than any of his other victims. Thornton plays this exquisitely and it’s hard to imagine anybody else now playing Art even though he actually isn’t the original actor of the role – could there be any more of a compliment of David Howard Thornton’s abilities though?
Terrifier is the name of the movie, quite fitting given the look of the antagonist of the piece, and it does actually live up to it’s name. Terrifier is very low budget but you get the feeling that they spent whatever budget they did have very wisely indeed as Art is just right in terms of make up and some of the kills, one in particular, leave you wincing and wanting to look away from the screen but you can never quite manage to look away as it so engrossing and indeed, gross out.
Now, let’s get to the crux of the matter – the girls in this film are, for the most part, incredibly stupid and go against all horror movie protocol by splitting up! After already seeing the clown too – I’m sorry but I’m pretty sure they would have stuck together – I’m sure we’ve all been on a night out when the entire female contingent of your group disappear all of a sudden when they go en masse to the toilets! That’s without having a killer clown on the loose! To be honest though, if the girls in the film hadn’t been a little bit dim then we wouldn’t have got the thrill ride that this film gave us.
I have to say that I really didn’t expect Terrifier to be as good as it is and quite honestly hadn’t even heard of it until I heard Chris Jericho giving it a rather hearty recommendation on his podcast. I would like to pass on that recommendation too to anybody that hasn’t already seen it as the film and the central character are the best I’ve seen in recent years and certainly one of the best new horror characters that really deserves to sit at the same table as all the horror film icons of the 80’s & 90’s slasher era.
Terrifier 2 is apparently in the works now and if it even approaches a fraction of the deliciously twisted nature of the original then I think we can all be happy with that. Here’s hoping it will get a cinema release too as Art definitely deserves to be on the big screen.