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May 9, 2018

Movie Review: "Terrifier" (2016; Epic Pictures/Dread Central)


 …man, for the life of this reviewer…can’t understand what it is about clowns of late, that get the average folks out there, so damned riled up, unnerved and chilled to the bone. Really…just because a wayward, pasty-faced clown with crusty-stained dental work, bent into an evilly gleeful grimace, and carrying a loaded lawn-sized trash bag, loaded with gawd-knows-what, stands & stares intently and motionless on the corner…street light flicker, barely illuminating his ghastly visage…doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s about to get…er, naughty

…just because our hapless and merry fellow, decked out and dressed in oversized mud-crusted shoes, a saggy, jester-like & color-contrasting get-up, and a teeny-tiny black Oliver Hardy bowler hat, steps in, sits down across…speechlessly staring, and smiling with glistening, blackened lips…then without warning, reaches over, grabs your hand, and places a costume vending machine ring on your ring finger, as if to propose…doesn’t exactly make him an unnerving, smiley pervert…

…hell, just because this grinning, happy-go-lucky guy is so incredibly adept with tools…sharp-as-the-devil-himself precision tools…rusty, serrated hand tools…blunt and heavy, skull-cracking, bone-shattering tools…and just because ol’ smiley face here, while lovingly draped in the skin of his favorite gal, feels oh-so inconvenienced, and is so oblivious of any responding, gun-toting John Q. Laws, that he lets out a sigh, and an exasperating, eye-rolling ‘hurumph’, before dispatching…er, before dealing with the situation…doesn’t make the lad, all that bad, right??...

…and just because…oh, wait!! Scratch all that…my bad!!! I mean, we are talking about Art, here…
BREAKING NEWS!!! BREAKING NEWS!!! Be on the lookout for a sinister lone perpetrator, this dark, cold and eerie Halloween evening, dressed in a contrasting black and white clown costume, with equally contrasting and exaggerated make-up, masking his facial features. Carrying a large, loaded black garbage bag, he was last seen leaving the local town’s pizza parlor establishment, which…per police investigation…was left in a rather…well, let’s just say that it was (…Ooooo!!) messy. The ghastly looking clown suspect was last seen following and harassing two young and attractive, slightly toasted post-party gals (Jena Kanell, Catherine Corcoran) , decked out in sexy, Halloween-themed dress wear. It was believed that the two girls might have sought safe haven, shelter and bathroom facilities, via an abandoned apartment complex, slated to be serviced by pest control…and that the perpetrator suspect…armed, dangerous, and dubbed ‘Art’, as a recently discovered, grotesque ‘calling card’ appears to suggest…may well still be in the immediate area, as well…
…well alrighty, then…with the filmmaking powers-that-be, now having beaten the ‘zombie’ movie genre into the ground…an understatement, as that sucker has not only been ‘beaten into the ground’, but more so, pounded and pulverized into micro-dust of rotted flesh, now quick irrecoverable by now  (…wretched Blue Meanies…tsk, really…sigh)…it seems that the genre ‘flavor of the moment’ is…well, it seems that clowns are the ‘in’ thing, nowadays. And barring the more sinister origins of these pasty-faced purveyors of mirth and laughter…a subject matter, barely touched upon in films, yet begs for further unveiling…or even the classic underlining cliché of how such happiness-instilling get-up, masks a measure of sadness and depression…we’re definitely had our lion’s share of sinister cinematic clown characters, the past few years…

…the demonic, child-devourer in the recent re-do of “Stephen King’s IT”…the almost cartoon-like, homicidal antics in 2012’s “Stitches”…the unflinchingly twisted, sadistic & perverse horrors, tortured helplessness, and psychological relentlessness of 2014’s highly recommended excursion into absolute terror, “Circus of the Dead”…the varied and eclectic clown offering from filmmaker & musician Rob Zombie, with the cult classics, “House of 1,000 Corpses”, “31” and “The Devil’s Rejects”…and even a dark, evil-instilled and outright soul-devouring touchstone towards the aforementioned grim origins of what we now consider clowns, with the recent 2016 entry…simply called “Clown”…just to aptly coin a few…

…but barring all this past movie clowny psychobabble aside, and getting straight to the point as subtly and eloquently as possible…without a friggin’ doubt, ”Terrifier” is one helluva fuckin’ freaky, creepy, twisted, madly insane and demented horror flick!! It’s a deliciously seeping, open tendon of a film, one might feel irresistibly inclined not to bandage or cover up, if at the very least, for the sole purpose of prolonging the excruciating pain of the open wound, ‘cause the absolute ecstasy of that pain, feels so-o-o-o damn good!!...

…in the onset, the storyline is hardly a complex set up, in relation to the events of this rather unnerving film…one killer clown, two haplessly tormented and terrorized girls, Halloween night. And adding to the air of bewildering discomfort here...well, there’s no real explanation, as to who Art the Clown actually is, where he comes from, or what motivates him to perform the ghastly and heinous acts, as seen herein…indeed, with sights so outright disturbing and to-the-bone chilling, they're hard-pressed to be un-seen. Instead, it is the masterfully emphasized presence of this evil character (…as delectably, gleefully, albeit dementedly performed by actor David Howard Thornton, who previously had a hand at the Joker role, in TV’s ‘Nightwing’ series …and well, for those who find Art familiar...well, he is a carry-over character from director Damien Leone’s previous film…an equally demented horror anthology from 2013, called “All Hallows’ Eve”)…they way he acts…the way he expresses himself…and all of this without uttering a single word, yet saying a lot with a mere grimace, albeit a chilling and sinister one…which propels this film to an outrageous level of absolute giddy and maniacal terror…the type of film where, in considering the events that transpire and unfold, one cannot help but repeatedly, in the most tense moments of the film, ask one’s self…’a-a-are they gonna go there?? No, they’re not actually gonna go there, are they??…no…No…NO-O-O!!!” And then, without flinching…well, they invariably do go there…
…in as much as “Terrifier” delectably exudes itself in the nostalgic spirit of classic slasher ‘grindhouse’ movies of some 35 years or so, ago…not to mention, unleashing one of the most insanely giddy, ‘embraceable’ and unprecedented premiere horror movie villains, this side of Victor Crawley (…indeed, in a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ type situation here, devoted and appreciative horror fans might wish that ol’ Art the Clown, much like Victor Crawley, would keep and maintain a measure of obscure-level popularity…as anything more than that, might tend to temper and dilute the overall horror of the character), director Damien Leone actually takes a much more interesting, albeit quite unconventional approach, as far as character and visuals. Yes, there are the typical ‘red herring’ scares and jumps, which one might expect…yes, the ‘lined up’ array of victims act and behave in expected, almost cliched habits…and yes, even ol’ Art himself, has that sneaky, almost supernatural flair for showing up where one might least expect, in this case, often popping up and standing motionless before his victims, and wearing that diabolical, black-lipped shit-eating grin, leaving the victims paused in a moment of terror, but also, sort of waiting for the other (…clown) shoe to drop…
…instead, in going against the grain of conventional slasher films, Damien keeps ol’ Art clearly, albeit creepily in the spotlight, as opposed to lingering in an obscure darkness…making his presence insistently known and obvious…as if Art was prone to saying, “…oh hell, no…I’m not gonna hide in the shadows…I want you to know that I’m here, ‘cause shadows or no shadows, you are mine, and there’s nothing you can do about it...no escape, and…Ooooo (...smiling evily), pretty ice cream…pretty…”. And in addition to the creepy overall lighting, Damien herein gingerly baths the entire film in a certain and distinct color saturation…not too much (…i.e., see 2011’s “Hobo with a Shotgun”, for a much more extreme effect, in that respect), but just enough to give the settings in “Terrifier”, a more ghastly, unnerving and uncomfortable underlining feel. And finally, Damien takes full advantage of his film’s soundtrack, very unconventionally yet very effectively, in the sense that standard horror movie musical stingers are used rather unpredictably, and the core music used to emphasize scenes of absolute intensity is amplified, making such scenes all the more disturbing, unsettling and outrageously demented…the latter of which might actually suggest underlining inspiration from Lucio Fulci’s films, who used his macabre music accompaniment in much the same way…
...long story short (...uh yeah, right!!): "Terrifier" is most assuredly, a deliciously sick and twisted excursion into intense horror, which just has to be seen, to be believed...yet, once you do see it, you may find yourself begging and pleading to un-see it, even though the twisted, smouldering-ember memory of the harrowing experience, is destined to linger in the dark resses of the mind, for days and days that follow. Yes, highly recommended, folks...though with great caution, as this one definitely bites...and gnaws...and tears...and maims...and digs deep & relentless...like the unbridled rapturous ecstasy of a heavy-bit rusty drill to the head.....



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