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Film / Art the Clown

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Art the Clown is a murderous, sadistic Monster Clown featured in multiple short and feature-length films directed by Damien Leone. Making his debut as a minor character in the short film The 9th Circle, Art, played by the now-retired Mike Gianelli, where he torments a young woman at a subway station before drugging her and giving her to a witch coven. He was met with critical acclaim, and Leone released a 30-minute short film called Terrifier, which features Art as the Big Bad, chasing after a woman who witnessed one of his murders. Between these two shorts, another one — Tortures of the Damned — was planned, but never finished.

Later, Leone compiled the two shorts into his first feature-length film, All Hallows' Eve, featuring the shorts as segments on a videotape, along with a bizarre and out-of-place segment involving an alien invading a woman's house that just happens to have a painting of Art at the very end. Another feature-length film based on and named after The 9th Circle was also in the making, but later scrapped. Years later, after Gianelli retired from acting, Leone went on to cast David Howard Thornton in the role of Art for Terrifier.


The franchise so far:

  • All Hallows' Eve (2013): A babysitter is watching her friend's children on Halloween night, and finds a videotape in one of the kids' candy bags. Curious, she watches it, viewing a collection of disturbing short films all connected together by a homicidal clown. As the night goes on, the clown is creeping his way into our world, putting the lives of the babysitter and the children in danger.
  • Terrifier (2018): Named after Leone's short film, Terrifier is again set on Halloween night, featuring a couple of girls running into the maniacal clown after a few drinks, and find themselves trapped by him in a warehouse with no means of escape.
  • Terrifier 2 (2022): Art the Clown is back again on Halloween, and this time, he's after a teenage girl and her kid brother.
  • Terrifier 3 (????): Plot unknown at this time.

Tropes featured in this series:

  • Adaptational Personality Change: Gianelli's take on Art was a lot more blatantly misogynistic and generally hateful, and seemed to be just as giddy with using a gun (or at least at crushing his intended victim's hopes of escape) as he was at using knives and hacksaws, whereas Thornton is much goofier and seems to absolutely hate being forced to resort to firearms.
  • Ambiguously Human: In All Hallow's Eve Art is more clearly supernatural, crossing over into the real world from the short films, but his actual origin and nature remain a mystery.
  • Ax-Crazy: Art absolutely loves wallowing in the carnage he leaves behind, often miming laughter when it particularly amuses him.
  • Big Bad: Though he started off as more likely being The Dragon in his debut appearance, he eventually came into his own, causing mayhem completely of his own accord. As of Terrifier 2, he seems to have been Demoted to Dragon to an unnamed sinister entity.
  • Blood Is the New Black: As seen from the page image, Art is frequently covered in the blood of his victims.
  • Breakout Character: Believe it or not, he was once just a minor villain in a short film, but he was an instant hit with audiences.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Dismemberment, face mutilation, torture, bisection, decapitation, cannibalism ... you name it, Art's done it. He even manages to turn a gun into an implement of torture.
    Damien Leone: Even if he pulls out a kitchen knife, you'll never see him simply stab someone in the stomach and walk away. He's gonna use that knife in the most hideous manner.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Damien Leone and David Howard Thornton have stated that the intention of giving Art a black and white suit and face paint was to contrast him with the flamboyantly colorful Pennywise.
  • Denser and Wackier: Thornton's take on the character is considerably a lot less blatantly hateful than Gianelli's, instead expressing his violent madness through humor that at times, veers into Actually Pretty Funny territory, both to the audience and the In-Universe characters.
  • Dirty Coward: Art doesn't seem to believe in fair fights. As soon as Tara has him pinned down, he whips out his pistol and shoots her. Then he takes his own life once the cops have him cornered.
  • Evil Is Hammy: A rare silent example. Art's body language and general mannerisms go to show how much he's enjoying his murder sprees. Thornton takes it even further, citing Jim Carrey and the Marx Brothers as influences.
  • Facial Horror: For whatever reason, he really likes disfiguring faces.
  • Fan Disservice: Whenever there's nudity, it's a sign that things are about to get really messy, and any inherent sexiness is overridden by the inevitable Gorn. And then there's also when the lanky Art goes prancing around naked except for a woman's flayed chest and scalp.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Art's even unluckier victims are this. To name a couple, the woman from the Terrifier short film, who is dismembered, has her breasts removed and her wounds stitched shut, and a string of misogynistic slurs carved into her body. Then there's Victoria from the feature-length film of the same name, who had her face eaten and was Driven to Madness after overhearing a reporter make fun of her disfigured appearance off-camera. He left both of them alive.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Art at first likes to give his victims the impression that he's a Non-Ironic Clown, but nobody ever buys it for long, if ever. Notably, he pats Tara's arm in a mockery of reassurance after pretending he was about to smack her in the face with a hammer hatchet.
  • For the Evulz: All but stated to be the only reason why Art loves killing so much. He imitates laughter if he finds a murder especially funny.
  • Gorn: When he shows up, it's a surefire way to know things are gonna get messy.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: With the exception of the alien segment in All Hallows' Eve, thus far, all of Art's killing sprees have taken place on Halloween night.
  • Humanoid Abomination: In his initial appearances, at least. His eyes glow in The 9th Circle, he's capable of teleportation and surviving serious wounds in the Terrifier short, and is summoned into the real world when Sarah watches the videotape featuring the aforementioned shorts in All Hallows' Eve. An artist also painted his face on a canvas in an unnamed short, despite having no recollection of ever doing so. Whatever he may have been, he's clearly not human in those appearances. Averted in the Terrifier feature length, where he's completely human up until his resurrection at the hands of a sinister entity.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Art is shown eating Victoria's face while she's unconscious.
  • Jerkass: Besides all the savage murders, Art is, quite frankly, an asshole who lives for the sole purpose of tormenting and killing people because he thinks it's funny.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Whenever you think Art is about to show a sliver of human decency, he's just doing it to bait his victims and usually follows it up by doing something exceptionally cruel.
  • Kick the Dog: If Art has an opportunity to crush his victims' hopes, he will take it just because he can, and he will "laugh" in their face when he does it.
  • Knife Nut: Usually, Art can be seen wielding a scalpel or some other type of knife.
  • Laughably Evil: Practically a requirement for being a Monster Clown, although Gianelli is a bit more openly disdainful and his idea of humor is probably not as mutual on behalf of the audience as Thornton.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: According to Thornton, Art Hates Everyone Equally. While he seems to particularly despise women and draws out their deaths in the most grisly ways he can think of, he can still be rather brutal to men when he feels like it. Children aren't off limits to him, either.
  • Monster Clown: Guess whooooo?
  • Monster Misogyny: Sure, he'll kill men violently and even enjoy it, but when it comes to killing women, he goes the extra mile of terrorizing, torturing, and sexually mutilating them.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The mutilations of the woman in the Terrifier short film includes carving misogynistic slurs into her body. As noted above, he generally doesn't seem to like women very much.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Art shows a few traits of one. He "laughs" when he does something particularly mean-spirited, and seems to generally view his murderous tendencies as all good fun on his part, even stopping in the middle of chasing after Victoria to ride around on a trike for no reason. At one point, he even exploits this by letting a woman comfort while he sucks his thumb only to flay her alive when she least expects it.
  • Red Right Hand: In case you didn't already glean that there was something sinister about Art, he's got rotting teeth and a hooked nose as a friendly reminder.
  • Revenant Zombie: What Art has become at the end of the Terrifier feature length film.
  • Sadist: Art lives to cause suffering for his own amusement. He barely even seems interested in killing by itself, just in hurting his victims as much as possible, with the killing being a mere byproduct and an end to the means. Notably, in the Terrifier feature length, he looks bored and unhappy when he has to use a gun to kill Tara.
  • Silent Antagonist: Art never speaks, and it's never made clear if he can, though he can briefly be heard laughing in All Hallows' Eve.
  • Silent Snarker: Occasionally, Art shows traits of one. Like rolling his single eye when the cops show up to arrest him all while threatening to shoot him in Terrifier, or this interaction in the short film of the same name.
    Gas Station Attendant: Are you out of your fucking mind?
    (Art nods his head vigorously)
  • Slasher Smile: Art's favorite facial expression.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Intended to be one to Pennywise, particularly as portrayed by Tim Curry. Whereas Pennywise is colorful and vibrant, Art wears a black and white jumpsuit and appears to be completely bald. Pennywise is talkative, but Art is completely silent, possibly even mute. Both are examples of Evil Is Hammy and Laughably Evil, but Art's hamminess and humor is derived more from his body language and pantomimes than by speech and cheesy puns.
  • Spree Killer: The way he takes his time with his killings and his m.o. in general are more akin to that of a Serial Killer, but Art's murders usually only take place over the course of a single night.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: He's an Ambiguously Human Spree Killer named Art.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In his debut appearance, Art "only" terrorized a woman at a subway station and drugged her. In all of his appearances afterwards, he's a much more hands-on savage butcher who rejoices in every second of both physical and mental anguish and misery he causes.
  • Troll: Art likes to play with his victims and make them as uncomfortable as he can for his amusement before he gets serious.
  • Whip It Good: One of Art's main weapons is a makeshift whip, made of of human hair and dirty surgical instruments.
  • Would Hit a Girl: More like would torture, eviscerate, whip, or flay a girl.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Art doesn't take any issue with his victims' ages, just as long as he enjoys it.


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