While the first Terrifier quickly gained a cult following, the chief criticism lobbed at it was the perceived lack of plot. Terrifier writer-director Damien Leone seems to have taken that to heart, as Terrifier 2 packs a lot of story – including several intentionally ambiguous plotlines to be resolved in a future installment – into a whopping 138 minutes.
Despite playing it coy in interviews, those too impatient to wait for the eventual Terrifier 3 will be pleased to know that Leone answers many of fans’ most burning questions in the audio commentary (recorded the day before the film’s US premiere) that accompanies Terrifier 2 on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD – the release is NOW AVAILABLE.
This article contains spoilers for the film, but you also may want to avoid it if you want to go into Terrifier 3 completely blind, as Leone reveals several hints at where the story is going.
Without further ado, here are 11 things I learned from the Terrifier 2 commentary.
1. Lauren LaVera was the first and only choice for Sienna
Terrifier 2 final girl Sienna Shaw is Leone’s “favorite character that I ever wrote,” based in part by his two older sisters. Since the character’s father is an artist, her name came from Bob Ross’ frequent use of the color burnt sienna.
Lauren LaVera was the first and only choice for the role, as there was never a runner up. Leone notes, “I’ve never had somebody care more for a character that I wrote than Lauren did for Sienna. She was just absolutely in love with this character – we both were – and we worked so hard in fleshing her out and making her a very relatable, interesting hero.”
2. Art’s death is foreshadowed early in the movie
When Sienna confronts her mother about her brother’s fascination with Art the Clown, her mother reminds Sienna that her father caught her cutting the heads off of minnows on a fishing trip when she was younger. “That goes to show that there is a dark side within Sienna,” discloses Leone. “And that’s going to come back when she decapitates Art at the end.”
3. The Clown Safe scene is pivotal to Sienna’s journey
Between Sienna seeing Art for the first time, Indiegogo backers as extras, gratuitous tommy gun blasts, and fire stunts, The Clown Cafe scene is one of the movie’s biggest – and one Leone’s favorite – set pieces. More than a mere dream sequence that some people have dismissed it as, it’s pivotal to Sienna’s journey.
Leone describes it as “a divine test that manifests itself within Sienna’s subconscious” conducted by the forces of good that want to anoint Sienna to combat Art. “If she’s not courageous at the end and doesn’t decide to fight back against Art, then she will not be the one.” Sienna’s decision to stick her hand into the ominous cereal box to fend off Art solidifies her as the chosen one.
Leone also points out the subtext of showing people in line with luggage accompanied by a pilot and a stewardess. “That’s all a reflection of Sienna’s wings and her going on a metaphysical journey; some transcendence.”
4. Art the Clown Provides the Art Crispies voice-over
Art the Clown may be silent, but the man behind the face paint, David Howard Thornton, is also a voice actor and impressionist. He provides the voice-over for the Art Crispies cereal commercial during the Clown Cafe sequence.
“Since I always take his voice away, I said, ‘Hey, you want to do this little voiceover for the cereal?’” Leone recalls. Thornton previously made a similar vocal cameo in a radio broadcast in the first Terrifier.
5. Sienna’s sword isn’t supernatural until she uses it to fight back
The Clown Cafe scene culminates with Sienna reaching into a cereal box and pulling out the sword her father gifted to her, which she proceeds to use to fight back against Art and his makeshift flamethrower.
Much has been speculated about the sword, and Damien clarifies that it isn’t supernatural in and of itself; it only gains its power when Sienna uses it to defend herself. “When she decides to fight and the fire hits the sword, that is the moment where the sword officially becomes baptized. It breaks into reality, and the sword is literally on fire.”
The scolding that ensues from Sienna’s mother is inspired by an actual argument between Leone and his own mother. When he was younger, the budding filmmaker inadvertently awakened his mother by melting sulfur-based clay on the stove for a special effect, filling the house with foul smoke.
6. The Little Pale Girl’s look was inspired by Art the Clown cosplayers
The Little Pale Girl – who Leone refers to as “the embodiment of evil that has resurrected Art the Clown” – was initially envisioned as a “little girl from the ’60s in a yellow sundress with flowers on it and maybe a flower behind her ear.” That changed on Halloween 2017 – the year before filming started – when Leone was tagged by various fans in homemade Art costumes on Instagram.
Noting how many females dressed as Art, he was inspired to radically change the design of the Little Pale Girl. Not wanting her to wear the exact same outfit as Art, he created a mirror image (“where he’s black, she’s white”). Leone also points out that the character’s teeth are switched – the upper teeth are on the bottom and vice versa – to add to the unease.
7. Sienna’s father was a vessel for both good and evil
There has been some debate among fans as to whether Art the Clown is Sienna’s father. While he maintains a bit of mystique regarding the character, Leone seems to confirm that he is not Art. The filmmaker offers additional insight into the father:
“The father was sort of a vessel for that supernatural good that needs to get to Sienna, and he was the one who started getting the visions; not understanding why necessarily or what’s happening, but he knew he had to get the sword for Sienna. He knew that she was meant for something important. And because of that, he was also channeling the bad force that was coming in; the evil entity that was gonna be the counterpart to that good.”
He continues, “It was all starting to come through, and that’s why he was becoming abusive. And all of this going on inside of him manifested itself into a physical tumor that eventually made him go crazy and kill himself. He was the vessel. It was channeling through him, and he was supplying Sienna with what she needed to go forward on her journey. It was an essential sacrifice on his part, which is another classic, Biblical, mythic theme.”
8. The costume shop scene is Leone’s homage to his favorite scene in Terrifier
Filmed on location at Abracadabra in New York City, the costume shop scene was immediately embraced by fans after a brief clip of Art wearing gaudy sunglasses was featured in the trailer. Leone looks at the scene as the sequel’s version of Terrifier‘s pizza shop sequence, which is his favorite scene in the first film.
“I love when Art is able to interact with people in public. That’s one of the cool things about Art that separates him from the other slashers, is that he’s not immediately threatening,” he explains. “I love to get as much tension and suspense out of that situation as possible.”
9. The club scene features a call-back to Leone’s first short film
During the club scene, two background actors are dressed as cloaked demons from The 9th Circle, Leone’s first short film from 2008. This was an unplanned call-back, as a pair of Indiegogo backers showed up in the costumes as a surprise to the director.
For those unfamiliar, The 9th Circle marked the first appearance of Art the Clown (then played by Mike Giannelli). It was later reworked to be incorporated into Leone’s 2013 horror anthology, All Hallows’ Eve.
10. Leone hid references to his favorite films throughout the movie
Leone peppered the film with loving homages and references to several of his favorite films, some more overt than others. They include…
- The Exorcist (the Little Pale Girl secretes goo on the floor similar to Regan urinating on the rug)
- Halloween (Jeff first approaches Brooke disguised under a ghost sheet with glasses)
- Maniac (Art blasting Barbara’s head off with a shotgun is a tribute to Tom Savini’s mind-blowing special effects)
- Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (Art messing around with the sunglasses is based on Pee-Wee in the coffee shop)
- Class of 1984 (Art smashes Sienna’s face into the bathroom mirror)
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Art mocks his victims similar to the Hitchhiker)
- Salem’s Lot (the Little Pale Girl’s eyes glow yellow at the end)
11. Malignant forced the mid-credit sequence to be reshot
Victoria’s portion of the mid-credit sequence had to be reshot due to its unforeseen similarities to James Wan’s Malignant. In the original version, “Victoria’s not pregnant. She’s in the room, singing the song, and scratching the back of her head and she notices there’s blood all over her fingers.” The nurses hear her screaming and run to the room to find her writhing on the floor holding her head.
“Leah [Voysey] inspects her head and all of a sudden her fingers get bit off. You don’t know what the hell’s going on, and there’s mayhem, and Chris Jericho tackles her. Victoria reaches up, grabs the back of her scalp, rips her scalp open, and it’s Art the Clown growing on the back of her head like a tumor.”
You can probably see where this is going. “Of course, a couple of months after we shot it, Malignant came out, and we said, ‘Oh, my god. We both did the exact same thing, and we can’t possibly do that.’ So we had to go and reconfigure this.” Production designer Olga Turka suggested Victoria give birth to Art instead, and Leone ran with the idea.