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Don’t walk, RUN to Art’s Clown Cafe!

In 2016, the ultra-gore horror film Terrifier’ was unleashed upon the world, ushering in one of horror’s most eccentric and violent slashers in recent memory. Met with mixed reviews upon its release, the film’s explicit homage to late 70’s – 80’s grindhouse horror and brutal kills, coupled with the gory practical effects, garnered enough praise from fans to fully crowd fund a sequel. Thus, after a 6-year hiatus, Art the Clown makes his frightful return in writer/director Damien Leones’ Terrifier 2’. With an added plot, double the kills, and the genre’s newest ultimate final girl; Leone improves on the faults from his predecessor in nearly every way.

David Howard Thornton in white and black clown makeup splattered in bright red blood. Dressed as Art the Clow with a sinister smile, waving hello. Image from Terrfier 2.
David Howard Thornton as Art the Clown waving hello. ‘Terrifier 2’

Picking up immediately where ‘Terrifier’ ends, Leone wastes no time thrusting the viewer into Art’s (reprised by David Howard Thornton) world of extreme violence, as the first on screen-kill to a lone coroner happens within mere minutes of the film’s opening sequence. Following a bloody escape and friendly detour at a local dry cleaner, we meet Art’s creepy new “imaginary” friend simply named The Little Pale Girl (Amelie McLain). Cut to one year later, we are introduced to final girl, Sienna Shaw (played by Lauren LaVera), her little brother Jonathan (played by Elliot Fullam) and their emotionally strained mother Barbara (Sarah Voight).

Following a late night applying the finishing touches on a Valkyrie costume inspired by her late father, Sienna has a vivid dream in which she’s transported to a local children’s show plucked straight from the 90’s. It’s here our heroine has her first encounter with the Miles County killer clown. After narrowly waking from her nightmare, the plot then follows Sienna and her friends Allie (Casey Hartnett) and Brooke (Kailey Hyman) as they attempt to rescue Jonathan from Art and his demonic companion, all while trying to survive the hellish night themselves.

Laruern LaVera as Sienna Shaw applying gold makeup in streaked pattern across her right eye. Image from Terrifier 2.
Lauren LaVera as Sienna in ‘Terrifier 2’ applying her war paint!

Continuing the brutality of the first film, the kill count for ‘Terrifier 2’ is much larger and gruesome this second coming. Equipped with a ranging arsenal of weapons including rusted knives, tools, and a crudely altered cat-o-nine tails whip; Art has plenty of perverse methods tucked in his dingy garbage bag to dispose of his victims. It’s apparent more time and money went into the creativity of the sequel’s kills, as the practical effects are on full display, the camera rarely flinching away from the numerous bodily dismemberments. The deaths feel much more grandiose in scale and execution. To my surprise, they were able to best the infamous hacksaw death from the first film, in a scene that can only be described as stomach curdling.

The real standout of ‘Terrifier 2’ is the emotional attachment we develop with the films main character. LaVera completely radiates as final girl Sienna. We watch as her character grows from a frightful teen to a Valkyrie of strength, acting as the perfect counterbalance to Arts’ maniacal personality. I found myself vocally cheering for Sienna any time she got the upper hand over the titular clown. David Howard Thornton makes his triumphant return as Art the Clown, bringing just as much ferocity to the role as his previous outing. Thornton further explores Art’s depraved sense of humor with even more animated gestures and silliness this time around, giving the character an outlandishly cartoon personality. I guarantee, his smile will haunt your dreams. 

Sienna battered mid fight with Art. ‘Terrifier 2’

With as much time as Leone spends developing his leads, it’s upsetting his supporting characters lack the same attention. Rather than explore these relationships further, he instead appeases the fans with elongated death scenes and a third act that becomes a bit repetitive. Running at a lengthy 148 minutes, the pacing for ‘Terrifier 2’ stumbles as Leone can’t quite seem to find any clear cohesion between the film’s multiple subplots and new supernatural themes. One of the more confusing elements added to the plot involved Art the Clown’s freshly acquired immortality and psychic connection with Sienna. By the film’s finale, I found myself infuriated none of the questions presented throughout received any answers.

The Verdict

Above all, in spite of its’ struggles to merge the multiple subplots and added elements gracefully into the main story, ‘Terrifier 2’ is an unwavering symphony of visceral slaughter. With enough carnage candy that will satisfy any gore hound, a kick-ass synth soundtrack, and Thornton and LaVera serving as the films highlights; both wholly solidifying their characters amongst horror’s elites. ‘Terrifier 2’ is a beautiful homage to the splatter house films that came before it, any slasher connoisseur will love and appreciate.

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‘Terrifier 2’ is now available to rent/own digitally on VOD platforms and streaming exclusively on Screambox. You can also purchase your physical Blu-ray/DVD copy of ‘Terrifier 2’ now available on Amazon.com. 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

More spooky reviews available from HauntedMTL.

Utah transplant TT Hallows now resides in Portland OR haunting the streets of PNW for the past 5 years with his spunky feline companion Gizmo. Horror and writing are his passions, taking special interests in sloshy grindhouse slashers, thought-provoking slow burns, and fright-filled creature flicks; Carnage Candy reigns supreme! When not binging excessive amounts of gratuitous gore, you can find TT Hallows shopping the local thrift and witchcraft shops (oh yes, he's a witch), expertly dancing (or so believes) to New Wave/Dark synth melodies or escaping the monotony of "walking amongst the living" with serene oceanic views and forested hikes. TT Hallows is an up-and-coming horror reviewer/writer for HauntedMTL. Step with me into the void...if you dare.

Movies n TV

Ghostbusters, Frozen Empire

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Released in March of this year, Ghostbuster’s Frozen Empire is the latest in what is now a four-part series that began in 1984. And, unlike most series that get a modern reboot, this series just seems to be getting better.

The story

Our tale begins in 1904. Firefighters from the same firehouse we are all familiar with are dispatched to save a building that is, well, kind of the opposite of on fire. In the middle of Summer, a whole room has frozen solid. The people inside are frozen in place. As this scene fades away, we see a woman dressed in strange brass clothes, holding a ball that seems to be whispering something.

Flash-forward to modern times, we see our Ghostbusters flying through the streets of New York, chasing a massive sea monster ghost. They manage to catch the ghost but are called into the mayor’s office for property damage. And, surprise, the mayor is Walter Peck, the minor villain in the original films.

Among Peck’s complaints is that Phoebe Spangler is underage. He insists that she be benched until she’s eighteen.

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This, of course, means that Phoebe is the only one there when Ray receives a strange ball in his shop. A ball that has so much kinetic energy that it breaks his tools. A ball that is, of course, whispering.

Dan Aykroyd, James Acaster, Finn Wolfhard, Celeste O'Connor and Logan Kim in Ghostbusters Frozen Empire.

What worked

What the Ghostbusters series has gotten right is that it’s never lost sight of the original film. It is one consistent story with new elements added. The music is similar in each. The characters are consistent from film to film. And, maybe the most important part, the original characters have aged and changed in ways that make sense.

This movie was also full of nods to original fans. Seeing Janine suited up was a fantastic moment for me. But it’s also great to see Ray, Peter and Winston as leaders and advisors.

Another thing I loved about this film was the actual creep factor. This is the first Ghostbusters movie that had some actual creepy moments. Right in the first scene, the frozen dead hand rolling around on the record player was eerie. The ghosts were creepy, except Slimer. Some of them looked like they might do some damage.

Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts in Ghostbusters Frozen Empire.

Finally, it was so cool seeing all of the Ghostbusters coming together. All three original characters fight with the seven new ones, and aided by Janine, Melody and Nadeem. It meant something that it took all of them to fight Garraka. And even then, they just barely stopped him. It raised the stakes and felt epic.

What didn’t work

I will say, this movie could have had more detail. There were a lot of storylines in this movie. Trevor trying to come into his young adulthood by battling Slimer himself. Phoebe deals with the fact that she feels like an adult and isn’t treated like one yet. Her love affair with Melody. Nadeem discovering and coming into his birthright. And, of course, everyone coming together to defeat Garraka.

With so many stories in play, it was going to be impossible to treat all of them with the time and respect they deserved. And one story I felt needed more attention was the story of Melody. I want to know why she was hanging out playing chess in Central Park. I want to know why there was a diner with her name on it. I want to know why Garraka chose her to get close to Phoebe. I want to know so many things about this character and there was just not enough time. This was an almost two-hour movie already, there was not enough time because they did too much.

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All in all, though, this is a small complaint. Ghostbusters Frozen Empire was funny, creepy, heartwarming and a lot of fun. It’s something you can watch with little ones and adults alike, and everyone in the room will have a good time.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, A Killer Comes Home

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Episode two of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was more true crime than supernatural. It was the horrific, dark tale of a serial killer who escapes from jail and comes back to his hometown for revenge. And boy, does he find it.

The story

This story begins with a man coming out to his front porch to find a mysterious package wrapped in newspaper. He opens it to find a rotting, maggot-ridden head that he certainly didn’t order.

The head was placed there by a killer named Allan Legere. In 1986, Legere brutally murdered a couple in their homes during a robbery. For this, he was sentenced to life in prison.

However, he escaped from prison in May of 1989. Enraged at his old hometown, he returns there and starts a brutal killing rampage. He wants revenge on the people who wronged him. At least, the people he believes wronged him. Rather than focusing on the police who arrested him, or the judge and jury who convicted him, he decides to go after the journalists who reported on the case.

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Of course, he also murders a whole bunch of old ladies for some reason. And a priest.

Annette Holland in Suburban Screams.

Legere is still alive, and still in prison. But as he’s escaped once, many people believe he might do so again. And if he does, he’ll almost surely try to pick up right where he left off.

This tale is told from the point of view of the journalists, Rick MacLean and David Cadogan. Both men have been deeply impacted by this incident. They are still shaken. And still very, very angry.

What worked

This episode was far better than the first, right from the maggot-headed start. The gore was intense. The story was horrifying. And it’s made even more horrifying, knowing that it is, for the most part, true.

The thing that made this episode stand out is that it feels so much like several beloved horror stories. I would suggest that this story inspired John Carpenter’s Halloween, except that that movie came out in 1978. The events in this episode took place from 1986 to 1989.

To realize that a person could cause so much pain, and take so many lives, is possibly the scariest thing most of us can imagine. And while this story is, sadly, not unique, it is certainly worse than most.

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What didn’t work

After watching this episode, I can only really think of one complaint. There is a scene with the first victims, two elderly ladies. The first woman is home alone when someone begins hammering on her front door. We are meant to believe that it is the killer, but it ends up being her sister with a lovely salad. But if the two sisters lived together, why was she knocking to be let in? I can only believe that this is meant as misdirection to the point of being a jump scare. And this feels cheap. Especially when the rest of the episode was more on the level.

Is it True?

While I do think parts of this episode were, let’s say dramatized, I do think this happened. There are just too many facts that would be far too easy to look up. To my dismay, the part that is easiest to look up is the horrific deaths of many innocent people.

This was a much better episode than the one that preceded it. The story is compelling and frightening. It is well told, both from the survivors being interviewed and the actors recreating the moments of horrific history. I’m hoping that the rest of the season is more like this episode, and less like the first.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Suburban Screams, Kelly

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Launched in October of 2023, Suburban Screams is the latest project by acclaimed horror master John Carpenter. It’s a true crime/unsolved mystery series covering events that have terrified people living in, you guessed it, the suburbs.

The story

Our first episode, titled Kelly, is the story of two roommates named Dan and Joey. The actual Dan and Joey tell the story from their own perspective, interspersed with dramatic reenactments. This did feel very much like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

One night when Dan and Joey have their girlfriends over, they decide to play with an Ouija board. Since they don’t have one, Dan makes one on a pizza box, complete with a planchette. This is, of course, when things go terribly wrong.

Still from Suburban Screams, Kelly.

Honestly, I have never heard anyone say, “I had a great time with that Ouija board, I’m really glad we did that.”

The couples make contact with a spirit named Kelly. This is very upsetting to Dan’s girlfriend May, as she had a cousin named Kelly who went missing and is presumed dead.

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Dan then finds himself haunted by Kelly. He throws up water, finds his kitchen chairs stacked on the table, and is followed around by a haunting song. Dan feels like he won’t find peace until he helps Kelly find peace.

What worked

There was a lot to enjoy in this first episode. Specifically, I loved the horror visuals. Dan’s vision was very creepy, as an example. And I loved the shots of the body floating down the river. These images were eerie and upsetting.

The storytelling from Dan and Joey was also well done. While I have my doubts about the validity of this story, these two men believe wholeheartedly in what they’re saying. I certainly believe that they experienced something disturbing. Either that or they are some fantastic actors.

What didn’t work

That being said, some things rubbed me the wrong way in this episode.

I’d like to start with the herbs Joey burned during the Ouija session. It looked like sage, or maybe sweetgrass.

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As some of you might know, I am a practicing witch. So I do feel the need to point out that if you want to open a door and invite spirits in, you probably don’t want to be burning sage or sweetgrass as those are going to negate any spiritual activity. This was for sure the action of someone who does not know what the hell they are doing. It just irritated me.

Also, maybe don’t throw open a door indiscriminately to the spirit world. Just saying.

I also didn’t love the acting by Ben Walton-Jones, who played Dan. While it wasn’t a terrible job, the character felt overacted. I don’t know how he had room for that pizza, since he was chewing the scenery most of the episode.

Honestly, this episode felt a little underproduced. When I saw John Carpenter’s name, I was expecting something with some real production value. Great acting, great effects, great music. None of those were in effect here. I’m not sure where their budget went, because it didn’t go to any of the things it should have.

Is it true?

So that brings us to the big question. Do I think this story is true?

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Well, it is verifiable that Kelly Lynn Fitzpatrick was a young woman who unfortunately was found dead in 1999 in Quebec. The rest of the story, so far as I can find, is up to speculation.

Do I believe someone could contact the dead on an Ouija board they made out of a pizza box? Yes, I do. Because Dan made it with his own hands it might have worked better than a store-bought board. But do I think he was haunted to this extent by the spirit of Kelly?

Well, I would say that I believe this about as much as I believe the story of the Amityville house. Something certainly happened here, but I am sure that the details shared in this episode of Suburban Screams are highly overblown.

In the end, while I did have fun watching this episode, this fun was tainted. I would have enjoyed it more if it was presented as a fictional story loosely based on real-life events. Because that is almost certainly what it was.

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3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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