For those familiar with the grindhouse-inspired horror short “Terrifier”, the name Damien Leone might mean something to you – but the face you probably remember is that of Art the Clown. First introduced in another short called “The 9th Circle”, Art the Clown has developed into a remarkably simple but absolutely devilish character…
…who is one of the first new icons of fright from the internet age. Leone has springboarded his efforts into an anthology of sorts, combining his existing shorts with an all-new alien entry and a babysitter wraparound for the DVD, All Hallows’ Eve, which is available for sale and rental now. Below, Leone talks about his road to success.
Dread Central: So, I know you’ve also got Frankenstein versus The Mummy coming out?
Damien Leone: Yes! Well, I’m leaving for New Mexico in a couple days, but it’s just a standalone Mummy film that I’m doing the make-up effects for. Then I come back from this one and go into pre-production on Frankenstein versus The Mummy, which I’m directing, writing, and doing the make-up effects for.
DC: It’s funny; when I got the request to interview you, I had already ordered All Hallows’ Eve on DVD just as a fan. I think within a minute or two of each other I got the delivery confirmation from Amazon and the request to interview you! I’d seen “Terrifier” and “The 9th Circle”, I guess, a couple of years ago. I know the whole project was all created online through YouTube and email. Would you have ever been able to get this off the ground without technology? It’s definitely a unique model, and this kind of thing happens pretty rarely.
DL: Yeah, I don’t think so, honestly. If Jesse Baget, the producer, hadn’t reached out to me and hadn’t found “Terrifier” on YouTube, I would have probably done a Kickstarter thing. My intention wasn’t to make an anthology film. We still intend on making a full-length stand alone Art the Clown movie. This was just a reason to get “Terrifier” onto DVD and whip it into a feature just to get it out there to get more people familiar with Art the Clown and hopefully get a little bit more of a fanbase. When people ask me what do I recommend on becoming film kids or film students, I really tell them just make something really crazy and throw it on to YouTube. If it’s good, people will start talking about it. I think that’s how I got lucky.
DC: In total, there were five DP’s on this, is that right?
DL: Five DP’s!
DC: That must be some kind of a record. Was it difficult to have All Hallows’ Eve have a consistent look because of that?
DL: I don’t think so. “9th Circle” was 2006 and we actually shot that, even though it does not look it, on 35mm. The rest of the movie was shot on the 5D and I think a little bit of the 7D, but it was my idea to put the grindhouse effect on “Terrifier”. I have a lot of input on how the movie looks so I don’t just tell the DP to just light it however they want. I think it was pretty easy to stay consistent. I don’t know if that helped us or not. I think people would have preferred if the entire thing looked like the grindhouse look from “Terrifier”.
DC: That look can wear out its welcome though. I’ve seen a lot of attempts at that sort of thing and it was really done well with “Terrifier”. I think that’s one of the reasons it caught on.
DL: Oh, thanks man. That’s definitely my favorite still. I think we did the best job with “Terrifer”. When we make this Art the Clown film, it’s going to be an hour-and-thirty-minute “Terrifier”. That’s what I’m going to try and do.
DC: To go back to “The 9th Circle” for a second, can you talk about some of the additional footage in it so they know there’s more to it now?
DL: Yeah, those two other captive girls when the girl wakes up in the tunnel… I cut that entire thing out because when I was editing it, it felt like it wanted to be a bigger movie but it just wasn’t going anywhere. That’s what I was thinking at the time, so I just cut them out and centered it around that one girl. When we were making All Hallows’ Eve, we just needed footage to beef it up. I thought they gave really good performances, those girls, and I was kind of ashamed that I cut it out in the first place. So I was happy to put it back in for them. I was able to track them down so they were really happy to see that they were getting their work out there.
DC: What actually got you into doing effects work in the first place? Was it a film or just doing different gags with your friends?
DL: It was definitely Tom Savini. He was my hero and still one of my biggest. He’s the reason why I’m into special effects and even filmmaking. I grew up watching Scream Greats, did you ever see that?
DC: Of course, yeah, Volume 1.
DL: Exactly. I grew up watching that, I was about twelve years old, I went to one of those horror conventions my mother took me to because [Savini] was gonna be there. So I actually met him and that was just insane, that was so surreal. At that horror convention, someone was selling those real machetes that were dulled down that had the semi-circle cut out that he would always use on Dawn of the Dead. My mother bought me one of those and my first bottle of mint-flavored blood and I think it was a Ben Nye hair and makeup kit. So I took all that stuff home and just started experimenting with latex and making cuts on my friends’ cheeks. I sent them all home to their parents and just watched the parents freak out and that just gave me such a rush to see that it worked. And it just never stopped and we’re still making movies.
All Hallows’ Eve is available now on DVD and definitely has our seal of approval.
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