Art the Clown

Art the Clown is a fictional character from the Terrifier franchise and related media. Created by Damien Leone, he first appeared in low budget short films before making his feature film debut in the anthology film All Hallows' Eve (2013), where he was played by Mike Giannelli. He later appeared as the antagonist in Terrifier (2016) and Terrifier 2 (2022), where he is played by David Howard Thornton.

Art the Clown
Terrifier character
a grinning monster clown with a black-and-white color scheme.
Art in Terrifier 2 (2022)
First appearance
  • "The 9th Circle"
  • 2008
Created byDamien Leone
Portrayed byMike Giannelli
David Howard Thornton
In-universe information
ClassificationMass murderer
Primary locationMiles County
Signature weapon(s)Cat o' nine tails, scalpel, hacksaw, cleaver

Art is a demonic killer clown with mime-like qualities who appears on Halloween nights to wreak havoc. The character appears in many of director Damien Leone's works, originating in the short film The 9th Circle before taking on a more prominent role in feature horror films. Art's behavior is very much like that of a silent clown, in obvious reference to his appearance, and he is never shown speaking or making any other audible noises. Even when badly injured, he mimes screams of pain instead of actually screaming. He always (silently) laughs when his targets are in peril, and is very theatrical when hunting down and killing them, often performing his kills in an animated, comedic manner.

Unlike other silent slasher villains, Art is very expressive and emotional, using gestures and facial expressions to communicate.

Following the launch of the Terrifier franchise in 2016, the character has been the subject of extensive merchandising, appearing in licensed apparel lines, comic books, fan art, body art, and action figures.[1] Thornton's performance, which incorporates physical comedy, received critical praise.



The character made his debut appearance in the 2008 short film The 9th Circle which follows his pursuit of a young woman named Casey (Kayla Lian) in an empty train station on Halloween night. Merely a supporting character in this film, Art abducts Casey and brings her to a satanic cult to be sacrificed.[2] Art made his next appearance in the 2011 short film Terrifier, where he stalks and torments a young woman who witnesses one of his previous murders.[3] The character made his feature-film debut in All Hallows' Eve (2013)[4] which incorporates the prior two short films as segments on VHS tapes that Sarah (Katie Maguire) watches with the children she's babysitting on Halloween night. Art enters the real world and murders the children for a terrified Sarah to find.[5]

In Terrifier (2016), on Halloween night, Art fills a garbage bag with a variety of weapons and begins wandering the streets of Miles County. He stumbles across the drunken Tara Heyes (Jenna Kanell) and Dawn (Catherine Corcoran), the latter of whom provokes him. He slashes Dawn's tires and follows them into a nearby pizzeria and finds himself fixated on the distraught Tara. He murders the two girls and anyone in his path. He later begins a hunt for Tara's older sister Victoria Heyes (Samantha Scaffidi). After running her over with a car, he partially eats her face and commits suicide upon police confrontation, leaving her severely mutilated. In the final scene, he is resurrected in the morgue by an unknown force and promptly murders the coroner.

In Terrifier 2 (2022), following the mutilation of Victoria and his suicide, Art has become an urban legend in Miles County due to his body disappearing from the morgue after being resurrected by a sinister entity. The sinister entity that revives him takes the form of his first victim, a little girl he killed at a carnival years before, wearing the same clown makeup as him and is completely mute as well, acting as his partner-in-crime throughout the film. Though, only Art and certain people can see her. A year later, he begins another killing spree on Halloween, while hunting down the teenager Sienna Shaw (Lauren LaVera) and her younger brother Jonathan (Elliot Fullam), whose late father knew about Art and his secrets. He tries to kill Sienna with a sword from her father, but it only heals her wounds, and she uses it to decapitate Art. Eventually, Victoria, now in a mental hospital, gives birth to his still alive severed head.


Art is set to return in the comic book retelling of the 2016 film.[6][7][8]

Creation and portrayalEdit

I drew my inspiration for Art from a lot of different sources, the most obvious being Mike Giannelli’s original portrayal of Art in All Hallow’s Eve. He gave me a great foundation to really build my version of the character from. From there, I combined my love of great horror villains—especially Freddy and The Joker—and coupled that with my love of great physical and silent film comedians.

—Thornton on what inspired his portrayal[9]

Leone wanted to create a clown character based on iconic slasher film villains, but wanted him to be the complete opposite of Pennywise from It (1990), being devoid of color and speech.[10] Art first appeared in Leone's short film The Ninth Circle (2008). Although he was only a minor character, viewers found him particularly memorable, prompting Leone to make the short film Terrifier (2011), centered on Art. He wanted to create a feature film about the character, but put the idea on hold when producers approached him to feature his short films as segments in the anthology All Hallows' Eve, with Art as the thread connecting all the segments.

In the short films featuring him, and in All Hallow's Eve, Art was played by Mike Giannelli. When Leone began developing a feature film based on Art, Giannelli decided to retire from acting. When David Howard Thornton submitted an audition tape, he was cast as the murderous villain and is set to portray him in future installments.[11] Thornton says his performance was inspired by classic physical comedians like Charlie Chaplin and famous horror villains like Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger and Tim Curry's Pennywise, but that his main inspiration came from the various portrayals of the iconic supervillain the Joker.[12]


In a positive review for the magazine Starburst, Sol Harris wrote "Art is a truly enigmatic and memorable villain. He frequently veers into the territory of being genuinely unpleasant to watch, which makes him feel somewhat separate from the stable of horror icons such as Freddy Krueger and Chucky. Special acknowledgement should be given to David Howard Thornton for a truly wonderful performance and one that easily stands toe-to-toe with the likes of Curry and Skarsgård."[13] In a more middling review, the blog Film School Rejects praised Thornton's portrayal and use of body language but panned Terrifier and deemed the character a misogynist with a deep hatred for women.[14]

Popular cultureEdit

In 2018, apparel company Terror Threads released an ugly Christmas sweater of the character.[15] In 2019, Trick or Treat Studios obtained the licensing rights of Art and released a mask and costume based on the character—which was developed by taking the screen-used outfit and making a "one-to-one replication."[16] The company additionally released enamel pins and air fresheners based on the character.[17] American rapper and singer Ghostemane cites the character as influence for his studio album ANTI-ICON (2020).[18] In 2022, the company Knuckleheads Toys released a special edition caricature figure of Art.[19] While Trick or Treat Studios released an action figure based on Art the same year.[20] Art was called inspiration for one of drag queen Jimbo's looks in the series RuPaul's Drag Race: UK vs the World (2022).[21]


  1. ^ "ARE YOU AFRAID OF SCARY CLOWN TATT00S?". Inked. August 19, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Damien Leone (Director) (2008). The 9th Circle (DVD). United States.
  3. ^ Damien Leone (Director) (2011). Terrifier (DVD). United States: D&D Films LLC.
  4. ^ All Hallows' Eve, retrieved 2020-03-31
  5. ^ Damien Leone (Director) (2013). All Hallows' Eve (DVD). United States: Ruthless Pictures.
  6. ^ "OFFICIAL THREE-ISSUE TERRIFIER COMIC SERIES IS COMING". 18 August 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  7. ^ Squires, John (13 August 2020). "COMICS'Terrifier': Official Three-Issue Comic Book Series in the Works". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  8. ^ Marshall, Andrew (18 August 2020). "Terrifier Comic Book Series On The Way To Precede Terrifier 2". We Got This Covered. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Exclusive: David Howard Thornton Talks 'Terrifier' Sequel, Art the Clown". Horror Nerd. US. July 31, 2019.
  10. ^ Taylor, Nick (2 July 2018). "Horror Business: The Making of Damien Leone's TERRIFIER". Dread Central. Archived from the original on 2019-09-30. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  11. ^ Millican, Josh (4 December 2018). "Audition Tape that Got Actor Cast as "Art the Clown" in TERRIFIER Emerges On Facebook". Dread Central. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  12. ^ David, Teixeira. "DAVID HOWARD THORNTON TALKS TERRIFIER, ART THE CLOWN". Decay Mag. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  13. ^ Harris, Sol. "TERRIFIER". Starburst. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  14. ^ "'Terrifier' Review: Please Do Not Send In The Clowns". Film School Rejects. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  15. ^ Millican, Josh (November 14, 2018). "Terror Threads' Line of Ugly Christmas Sweaters Includes TERRIFIER's Art the Clown". Dread Central. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  16. ^ Squires, John (March 5, 2019). "'Terrifier' Slasher Art the Clown is Now Officially a Halloween Mask and Costume". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  17. ^ Squires, John (January 24, 2020). "Brand New Blood Covered Art the Clown Mask from 'Terrifier' Releasing This Halloween Season". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  18. ^ Shand, Lauren (October 23, 2020). "[Podcast] Ghostemane Talks 'Anti-Icon' and Horror Influences With The Boo Crew". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  19. ^ Squires, John (December 1, 2021). "'Terrifier' – Art the Clown Figure from Knuckleheadz Toys Slashing Your Way in 2022". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  20. ^ Squires, John (March 30, 2021). "Terrifier': Official Art the Clown Action Figure Up for Pre-Order from Trick or Treat Studios! [Images]". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  21. ^ Piazza, Bianca (February 2, 2022). "Jimbo Showcased a Wonderfully Disturbed Performance on 'Drag Race U.K. vs. the World'". Distractify. Retrieved February 10, 2022.

Further readingEdit