Art the Clown

Art the Clown is a main character in the Terrifier slasher franchise created by Damien Leone. The character originates from Leone's short films The 9th Circle (2008) and Terrifier (2011) in which he was portrayed by Mike Giannelli. However, he gained popularity when he was featured as the central antagonist in the anthology horror film All Hallows' Eve (2013).

Art the Clown
Terrifier character
Art the Clown and Tara Heyes.jpg
Art (David Howard Thornton) and Tara (Jenna Kanell)
First appearance
  • "The 9th Circle"
  • 2008
Created byDamien Leone
Portrayed byMike Giannelli
David Howard Thornton
In-universe information
ClassificationMass murderer

Leone wrote the 2016 feature length Terrifier as a standalone film focusing solely on the antagonistic Art character and his pursuit of the sisters Tara (Jenna Kanell) and Victoria Heyes (Samantha Scaffidi). Giannelli, who had retired from acting prior to this film's conception, was replaced by actor David Howard Thornton. While the film itself received middling reviews, Thornton's portrayal was met with critical acclaim particularly for his use of body language. As of 2020, Thornton has filmed scenes for the upcoming sequel Terrifier 2 (2021).

Art has become a popular figure in the horror genre. He has been featured in a variety of merchandise such as action figures and in body tattoos.[1] In August 2020, it was announced that the character would be featured in a limited edition comic book retelling of the 2016 film.



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 who 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 mutilates her face and commits suicide upon police confrontation, leaving her severely mutilated.

In Terrifier 2, 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. A year later, he is resurrected by a sinister entity and must hunt down the teenager Sienna Shaw (Lauren LaVera) and her younger brother Jonathan (Elliot Fullam) on Halloween night.


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


In 2018, Trick or Treat Studios released an officially licensed Art the Clown costume.[9] The same year, Art was the main part of the design in the officially licensed Terror Threads "Man of the Hour" collection, which included a mug and turntable slipcover.[10] In 2019, Art and Tara were featured in another Terror Threads collection, "Til Death Do Us Part".[11] In 2020, it was announced that Trick or Treat Studios would release an action figure of Art.[12]

Concept and creationEdit

Creating a horror villainEdit

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[13]

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.[14] 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 (2013), with Art as the thread connecting all the segments.

Men under the makeupEdit

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.[15] 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.[16]


In a review for, Danielle Cervantes wrote, "Art the Clown is destined to become one of the great names in horror. He stands apart from other slasher greats in several aspects. His background is never established, though I’m sure that’s something we can look forward to in coming years. As of now, Art is some unknown evil entity embodied by a murderous clown with no reason or motive."[17]


  1. ^ "ARE YOU AFRAID OF SCARY CLOWN TATTOOS?". Inked. August 19, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  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.
  7. ^ Squires, John. "COMICS'Terrifier': Official Three-Issue Comic Book Series in the Works". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  8. ^ Marshall, Andrew. "Terrifier Comic Book Series On The Way To Precede Terrifier 2". We Got This Covered. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  9. ^ Millican, Josh (August 21, 2018). "Dread Central Presents: TERRIFIER's Art the Clown Gets Mask & Costume from Trick or Treat Studios". Dread Central. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  10. ^ "Terror Threads 'Terrifier' Apparel Collection Now Available". Decay Mag. May 18, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  11. ^ "Terror Threads Releases 'Terrifier' "Til Death Do Us Part" Collection". Grave Decay. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  12. ^ Squires, John. "Upcoming 12″ Figures from Trick or Treat Studios Include Art the Clown from 'Terrifier'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Exclusive: David Howard Thornton Talks 'Terrifier' Sequel, Art the Clown". Horror Nerd. US. July 31, 2019.
  14. ^ Taylor, Nick. "Horror Business: The Making of Damien Leone's TERRIFIER". Dread Central. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  15. ^ Millican, Josh. "Audition Tape that Got Actor Cast as "Art the Clown" in TERRIFIER Emerges On Facebook". Dread Central. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  16. ^ David, Teixeira. "DAVID HOWARD THORNTON TALKS TERRIFIER, ART THE CLOWN". Decay Mag. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  17. ^ Cervantes, Danielle. "'Terrifier' – Why Art is the Newest, Baddest Clown in Town". Retrieved 21 September 2019.

Further readingEdit