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Exclusive comments/NSFW photos: Filmmaker and actress take us inside the most shocking “TERRIFIER” murder

Friday, March 30, 2018 | Exclusive, Interviews

By MICHAEL GINGOLD

The evil-clown chiller TERRIFIER showcases a series of very gruesome slayings by its costumed and face-painted villain, but one stands out as especially nasty. The movie’s writer/director, Damien Leone, and actress Catherine Corcoran exclusively dissect that setpiece here, and Corcoran shared some photos (which are NSFW) of the effects involved.

SPOILERS follow…

TERRIFIER, now on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD combo (order here) as an Epic Pictures/Dread Central Presents title, focuses on a trio of young women terrorized on Halloween night by the vicious Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton). Midway through the film, he catches up with Dawn (Corcoran) and does something especially brutal to her. Leone explains the genesis of this scene: I knew when writing the script that I wanted to include a murder scene unlike any I had seen before. I looked up medieval torture methods, and stumbled upon one in which people were hung naked upside down and sawed in half from their genitals all the way down through their skull. Bingo! That sounded like my kind of kill scene—the piece de resistance.”

Adding that to his screenplay was easy, but making it happen on camera was the most difficult gore gag Leone (who creates the effects for his own projects) had ever tackled. “What could go wrong? Well, we encased poor Catherine in silicone while molding her body during preproduction, and talk about starting off on the wrong foot: Apparently, we didn’t use enough release agent on her skin, so the fine hairs on her body didn’t want to separate from the silicone without a fight. Luckily, Catherine is an absolute trouper, so she toughed it out while we basically pulled a giant Band-Aid off her body. We got her out in one piece, and as far as I know, there was no damage done to her body aside from a few missing hairs.”

Crafting the mock bodies derived from the mold involved quite a bit of work, but it was the actual filming of Dawn’s bisection that threw up the most obstacles. “I need to start off by saying that this scene only worked out as well as it did because of Catherine,” Leone notes. “She was so dedicated to her role, and to making sure this kill was one of the coolest ever, that she essentially sacrificed her body for us. Whenever you see a shot of Catherine hanging upside down, there is no camera trickery involved. She is literally hanging by her ankles, naked, with her hands tied behind her back, in a very cold and dingy environment. That’s real dedication.”

“From its inception, this stunt proved to be incredibly challenging and ambitious,” Corcoran says. “The life-cast and sculpt needed to be seamless, and the stunt itself needed to be executed without a harness to read as authentically as possible in the master shot. Damien knew this, and handled the entire process and its challenges like an absolute master. I’ve never worked before with someone who has worn more hats on a production, and I’ve never attempted a stunt as physically demanding as this one. There is no other production that could have pulled this scene off with the effect of TERRIFIER, and that’s a true testament to Damien’s work.”

Leone says that it was all in the name of realism. “Sure, we could have just hacked up the dummies,” he continues, “but I wanted as many shots of Catherine herself as possible. For example, I wanted the audience to see the hacksaw stuck in her chest while she’s still alive to show how slow and agonizing this murder is. In order to achieve this, I built a replica hacksaw with the front half cut off. David placed the half blade against a big fake wound I applied to the center of Catherine’s chest, and we pumped blood out of the weapon against her skin. This gave the illusion that the saw was stuck inside Catherine’s actual chest as she was squirming and shrieking—a textbook Tom Savini gag, by the way.”

Adding to the difficulty was the fact that Corcoran could only hang upside down for approximately 30 seconds before the blood began rushing to her head. “So Catherine would sit on the top of a stepladder in a towel, with her ankles already shackled into the frame we built for her to hang from. Then on ‘Action,’ she would remove the towel and two assistants would slowly lower her into position while a third one wheeled the ladder out of the shot. These 30 seconds were always super-intense. We had to be very careful and efficient. We would shoot for 30 seconds, and then as soon as I yelled ‘Cut,’ the assistants would swoop back in and return Catherine to her starting position.

“It was all very surreal,” Leone concludes, “but I’m extremely pleased with the way the scene turned out. It required a ton of hard work and an awesome performance by a truly dedicated actress. Oh, and a lot of blood.”

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and spent 28 years as a writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. In addition to RUE MORGUE, he currently writes for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM, IndieWire.com, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM and others. His book THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press) is out this fall, and he has contributed liner notes and featurettes to a number of Blu-ray and DVD releases. Among his screenplay credits are SHADOW: DEAD RIOT and LEECHES!, and he is currently working on THE DOLL with director Dante Tomaselli.