Damien Leone Terrifier 2 Re-Release Interview: Horror Franchise’s Viral Popularity & Terrifier 3 Details
21 mins read

Damien Leone Terrifier 2 Re-Release Interview: Horror Franchise’s Viral Popularity & Terrifier 3 Details


  • Terrifier 2 is receiving a re-release due to its viral popularity and positive reviews, showing that the momentum for the franchise is still growing.
  • The director, Damien Leone, is excited about the re-release and eager for people to see the teaser attached, which sets up the direction for Terrifier 3.
  • Lessons from the reviews of Terrifier 2 include keeping the length under two hours and returning to the gritty and grounded feel of the original, while still delivering intense and memorable kills. The future of the franchise beyond Terrifier 4 is yet to be determined.
  • Following its viral 2022 release, Terrifier 2 is heading back to theaters. The sequel to the feature-length expansion of the new slasher icon Art the Clown, the movie introduced audiences to teenager Sienna as she, her brother and her friends find themselves tormented by the killer one year after his initial reign of carnage.

    David Howard Thornton reprises his role of Art the Clown for Terrifier 2 alongside Lauren LeVara, Elliott Fullam, Sarah Voigt, Chris Jericho, and Amelie McLain. Delivering some of the grisliest kills of the franchise while also building out its world for future sequels, the sequel scored largely positive reviews from critics and was a box office hit, grossing over $15.4 million against its $250,000 production budget.

    Related: Terrifier 3: Release Date, Story & Everything We Know About Art The Clown’s Return

    In honor of the movie’s re-release, Screen Rant exclusively interviewed writer/director Damien Leone to reflect on Terrifier 2, his horror franchise’s viral popularity, potential haunted house experiences and new details for Terrifier 3.

    Damien Leone on Terrifier 2 Re-Release & Terrifier 3 Details

    Art the Clown with modified weapon in Terrifier 2

    Screen Rant: As a horror genre fan, it was such a welcome surprise to see Terrifier 2 blow up the way it did at the box office last year and with critics, and now it’s incredible to think that it’s getting a re-release a year later, what is it like for you coming up to this re-release?

    Damien Leone: Oh, thanks, man, it’s good to see you too, and I’m always seeing Screen Rant articles of Terrifier, so I really appreciate that, buddy, that’s so cool. Man, I’m excited, because the momentum is still going. It’s still building, I feel like Terrifier is kind of reaching a, I don’t want to say plateau, but maybe like a fever pitch. I hear so many people saying they go to Halloween Horror Nights, and there’s more Terrifier shirts there than even the houses that they have, which is like, “Oh my God!” We were just at a convention in Kentucky with the whole cast and crew, there’s just so many fans coming up to us who are just now discovering it, and they’re in love with it.

    We’ve created a horror character that they had been dying to see since the early ’90s or the late ’80s, they thought it was impossible to get a new one. So, just hearing all those wonderful things, and now we kind of get to extend Halloween a little bit further this year with the re-release, I’m super excited. I’m more excited for people to just see the teaser that’s attached at the end of the re-release, because it’s really going to hold the mover until Part 3 comes out, and it really sets up what Part Three is. So, I’m super eager to see what the reaction to that is going to be, because right now we’re in the dark, and it’s a pretty big swing we’re taking with this new setting. So, like I said, I’m very curious to see the reaction, I’m excited, I think people are gonna like it.

    I’m very excited to learn more about it and see it myself, because I’ve been so curious about the direction that it already set up for the future. Now, one of the things that I found really interesting about your work on Terrifier 2 was that you had talked before about how you took the criticism of 1 in that there wasn’t really a plot by actually then designing a character-driven narrative for the sequel. Are there any major lessons that you took from the reviews, be they positive or negative, from 2 when putting together 3?

    Damien Leone: Yes, absolutely. One of them is the length, and it’s funny because these two criticisms are things that I knew were going to be criticisms and be very polarizing going in. So No. 1 is the length I’m doing my best to keep it under two hours this time, because that is a lot to ask of people today with any film over two hours. [Laughs] People have a hard time with [that], but especially a slasher, so I’m going to try and keep it under two hours, and the other criticism was the supernatural element and the fantasy element, which I knew that when I wrote the script I’m like, “Listen, I’m basically marrying two genres that I love” — which is the ’80s fantasy genre like movies like Red Sonja, Beastmaster, Conan the Barbarian, Excalibur — “and mixing that with a gritty grindhouse slasher film.”

    Just because the first one is so grounded, the first Terrifier is so grounded in reality, it’s a very simplistic grindhouse slasher film, and now I was taking it to sort of this top level, Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors world. So, I just knew that was going to be polarizing, but I still love that, no matter what. That’s crucial to the story and to the mythology and to Sienna’s character, so it’s not that we’re losing that, but I’m shifting over back into the world of Terrifier the original, where this is going to feel more like a vintage retro Grindhouse film. I want it to feel as if you’ve never met Art the Clown before, I want the audience to be absolutely terrified of him this time around, because what happens is the character starts becoming very popular, and people just start to love him, and they think he’s cute, and he’s charming, and it’s like, this character is absolutely despicable.

    I want you to hate him, even though you’re still gonna love him. Art’s always gonna be funny and quirky, it’s like I’m not switching off his character, but there’s a way tonally to make you afraid to make you more afraid, and to put you back into that really dingy, grimy world which is what got us here in the first place, and it’s super important for us not to forget where we came from. So, that’s where I’m going, I’m going back to Nightmare on Elm Street 1 as opposed to Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and 6. [Chuckles]

    Art the Clown in Terrifier 2 bedroom scene

    Nothing wrong with taking inspiration from the original! So with that said that, in going back to the grimy feel of the original, does that mean you’re trying to then top what was arguably one of the most brutal scenes in history with the bedroom in Terrifier 2?

    Damien Leone: Of course, always, that’s just the staple of this franchise. At this point, I don’t think I’ll ever not try and top the previous installment’s big kill, so there are certainly a few of those in this movie. There’s one in particular that you’ll know it when you see it unfolding before your eyes. All I can really tell you is that it’s a kill that is inspired by two really popular movie kills, so it’s a marriage of those two and then done Terrifier style. So, I’m excited to just talk about what those are — one of them is super obvious when you see it, and then the other one, I’ll have to tell people where that’s coming from, because it’s not even a horror movie.

    It’s exciting, but it’s always challenging to come up with these kills, and there’s always that fine line because, like I said, I want to be darker, grittier, but I still want this movie to be fun, it’s so important that these movies are fun. People know this is a fictional world, we’re having a good time, Art the Clown is a charming, quirky killer, so walking that line, making these kills so intense and memorable, but also having people leave the theater feeling like, “Oh, that was crazy, that was insane. I’m still happy, I’m happy to talk about it,” as opposed to going home and just wanting to like, kill themselves. [Laughs]

    I don’t want that experience, I want it to be a good experience, so it’s always a fine line, that is a challenge. But, I think it’s gonna be good, only a handful of people have been able to read the script so far, and two of them had to stop reading it multiple times, because of how intense this one is. I’m not just saying that to hype up the movie, it really is, we’re really pushing the envelope with this one. This one’s very dark, and we’re doing a lot of nasty, taboo things, so I’m curious to see what the reaction is gonna be.

    I bet it’s gonna be wild! And I hope it’s gonna lead you then into the fourth one that you’ve talked about in the past possibly doing. Now, obviously, I’m sure you’re waiting to see how the reaction is to 3, especially financially, before moving ahead, but is 4 already mapped out in your mind? Is there even further going on, or do you think it’s going to end after Terrifier 4?

    Damien Leone: To be determined, honestly. It’s tough, I don’t want to give out spoilers, because I want people to just experience the movie as if it could be the last one going into 3. You never know, you never know, but the whole thing was when I started writing Terrifier 2, the only good thing was is that I have known the ending to this franchise, so to speak, since I was writing 2, and that’s the most important thing is knowing where the finish line is and how to have a satisfying conclusion, which is something a lot of these franchises do not have whatsoever as they go on way too long. Then they wind up just petering out, because there’s no goal, it just comes down to money, and just bringing the killer back to wipe out a whole new slew of people, which is fantastic, it could be, I mean, I grew up with the part 10s and whatnot, I love them, I still watch them.

    But as a storyteller, as a filmmaker, you want to you want to create a satisfying franchise, a satisfying conclusion where you could just watch it from start to finish and understand the journey and the arcs of your characters and say, “Wow, that was a satisfying experience. I know what it is, and there isn’t like five timelines and say, ‘Well, which one do I like,'” and this and that. So I mean, that’s the goal, and I’m saying that now as like a naive artist, but you never know what’s going to happen down the line, but that is the goal is I don’t want to make too many of these, and I want it to have a satisfying conclusion.

    Sienna trying on her costume in Terrifier 2

    Well, I hope you get the chance to make that satisfying conclusion, because like you say, not many get the chance. Now talking about bringing killers back, you mentioned that Terrifier 3 is gonna go back to sort of the grindhouse-grounded nature of the original, but 2 really found a unique way to bring back Art at the end. I know you can’t necessarily explain it in detail, but how is 3 going to address 2’s ending?

    Damien Leone: Pun intended, head on. [Laughs] No, there’s still going to be plenty of supernatural things, it’s inevitable in Part 3. Like I said, I’m not ignoring the groundwork that was laid, but there’s an artistic way to approach it where it’s just not so in your face. Some things just are going to be in your face, but you’ll understand when you see it, a lot of it’s grounded. But yeah, I’m excited, you’re gonna see, and it’s sickening and hysterical how it picks up and how Art gets out of that situation, if I could say that. Maybe this is a bit of a spoiler, but to see to how the Victoria character aids Art the Clown in that journey is sort of just as interesting.

    And I’m excited for people to see that as well. In this movie, there’s a lot of new fresh elements in this movie, there’s a lot of, I call it “safety net,” just a lot of Art the Clown doing his thing, everything you love about this franchise that you’re there to see, you’re definitely going to get. I’m always going to deliver that, you’re going to see the big kills and Art the Clown being his quirky, charming, sadistic self. But then there’s that other sort of 30%, where I allow myself to take really bold risks and just inject new fresh ideas and things that just make it something new.

    I don’t think there’s any point in just recycling the same movie over and over again, that doesn’t interest me as a storyteller, so those are the things that always excite me the most is just seeing how the audience is going to react to these new elements that I put into the film, and there’s a lot of them.

    I can’t wait to see that flipped dynamic, I already loved how it was teased at the end, despite everything she went through in the first movie. Now, looking at the franchise as a whole, we talked earlier about how you felt it was surreal to see shirts of Art at Universal Studios, I’m curious if you’ve had any hopes of creating a sort of haunted house experience for Art, especially given that Terrifier 2 created so many fantastical settings that could make for fun walkthroughs?

    Damien Leone: Oh, I would love it, and that’s a dream. I would love to have a house in Halloween Horror Nights. There’s already been talks of it over the years, so hopefully that becomes a reality because, like you said, there’s just so many cool environments, and now we’re adding all these cool characters besides Art the Clown, these other creepy characters that you could really put in there, it could be a really cool experience. Also, I would love a video game.

    We were just playing the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre game, we were at the makers of the game, in their office where they created the game and everything, a couple of nights ago and that was so cool. He would lend himself so well to a video game like that, you could be trapped in the warehouse surviving from the original Terrifier or you could be in the Terrifier haunted attraction from the end of Terrifier 2, it could be so much fun. It would be cool to be Sienna, too, I think to be this hero fighting Art the Clown decked out in this armor, it’d be cool for the victim and the villain, it would be a great game, and there’s interest there too, so hopefully those happen in the near future.

    Sienna bloodied in Terrifier 2

    I was gonna say, hopefully the Dead by Daylight people get in talk with you, since they love adding those new maps and everything based on properties, that would be rad. For my final question, with these movies, you Kickstarted the second one, it blew up in a big way. With the third one, I read that you said something about a low-to-mid seven-figure budget. Did you turn to crowdfunding for the third one, as well, or did you find a producer who was willing to help finance your crazy vision for what you have in mind for the future?

    Damien Leone: No, we did not have to crowdfund this one, this is all just Cineverse, who put out Part 2, basically distributed Part 2. It’s them, and again it’s just me and my producer, Phil, overseeing this entire thing. We are just unleashed, able to shoot whatever we want with more money this time, which is super exciting. I wasn’t gonna get this opportunity with the studios, and there was a lot of Hollywood studio interest in this film, but I could tell there’s gonna be a lot of eyes over my shoulders, and there was going to be a lot of opinions.

    That’s not what got this movie here in the first place, it’s always been organic, true to myself as an artist, and I think we just need to keep it that way. I think that the franchise has the best chance of longevity that way, so I’m excited for that. And, yeah, I think we talked about this, just having the money to really allow me to focus on the writing and directing is going to really make a better film this time, so I’m really excited for that.

    But again, as much relief as that is, there’s so much work with all these departments now that I have to oversee, and there’s more eyes on it than ever before, so that’s a little nerve-wracking. But once you’re in it, you go to your artists’ default, and you just try and — no matter how stressful the situation is — make the best movie you can with where you are, and what you have, and the people you’re surrounded by. I feel really good, though, we’re going to be great.

    About Terrifier 2

    Art the Clown screaming in Terrifier 2

    Set one year after its predecessor, Terrifier 2 continued the gruesome story of Art the Clown and his insatiable thirst for murder. When a sinister force resurrects Art, he is once again upon the unsuspecting residents of Miles County. Back for another Halloween, Art sets his sights on a teenage girl and her little brother, portrayed by LaVera and Elliott Fullam, respectively, delivering a chilling and relentless tale of horror.

    Terrifier 2 is developed by Dark Age Cinema and Fuzz on the Lens Productions and features an original score by Paul Wiley. The film is produced by Phil Falcone, Steven Della Salla, Jason Leavy, and Michael Leavy. The list of executive producers includes Cairo Ben Amen II, Joshua Anderson, Steven Caruso, Lisa Falcone, Hank Greenberg, Marcus McGill, Larry Bilello, Steven Barton, and Thomas Smith.

    Check out our previous Terrifier 2 interviews with:

    Terrifier 2 returns to theaters nationwide on November 1!

    Source: Screen Rant Plus

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