Terrifier review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
In an age where it seems as though every horror movie wants to amplify a throwback aspect with nudges and winks to the era of 1980s video nasties, along comes a film like Terrifier that takes the concept more earnestly than campily. Just look at that stark cover of an evil clown, seeming as though it was plucked right off the rack of B-movie terrors for it simplicity. There’s also a simplicity to the film itself that doesn’t bog itself down in trying to be anything more than a fright fest of one unfortunate Halloween night.
The horrifying clown in question is Art, a not-so-fun clown considering his grimy makeup and constant grimace. He finds something to do on Halloween night by stalking to drunk women, Tara and Dawn, after they’ve just gotten out of a party. In his stalking, Art proves he’s not really a people person as he smears poop all over a pizzeria and is kicked out. It’s a given that at some point he’s going to be slashing up victims and it isn’t too long before he does so and takes one of the women hostage. The other is soon stabbed and drug, as is there friend who comes looking for them.
Terrifier very much follows the the simple slasher formula evoked by the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Art kills a few, captures some, and mutilates a few others. There’s an involvement with a crazy cat lady that works into a rather nasty piece of flesh being used as fashion statement, making that Texas Chainsaw comparison all the more apt. The kills are varied and gory, ranging from steadfast guttings to the more complex sawing off of limbs. One particularly gruesome scene features Art eating off a face.
This is all very gross and I’m sure the mere mention of such cannibalism and wearing of the skin has probably turned off a few. Let’s put this in context for a moment though. This is a film with such a simplistic horror title as Terrifier. The cover features a gross clown with a devilish grin of nasty teeth. What would one expect when watching such a film? A contemplation on the decaying state of entertainment? A commentary on the masquerade of Halloween being a dangerous pastime? Having grown up in the age of video stories lined with shelves of similar titles, the horror hounds are not as thirsty for such nuanced storytelling of a killer clown.
And, in a way, I’m kinda glad it’s not. Had this film tried to mash in a message amid its gory centerpieces, I doubt it would come off as competently conceived given that greater focus was given to making sure the blood and guts look just right. As it stands, Terrifier is a picture built only to be disgusting and vomit-inducing in its grimy and gruesome assembly. While it’s nothing that holds all that much appeal for myself outside of the brief spectacle of Halloween-infused terror, I can’t say I was bored or disappointed in a film that aimed so low and hit its goal with a sloppy splash of bloody grossness. A simple slasher that should please fans seeking little more.