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  • Writer's pictureRob Freese

Terrifier 2: New Chapter in the History of Slasher Cinema

Does everyone understand how important this moment is? To have Terrifier 2 in theaters at all is an astonishing feat in today’s world, but to have it held over for its “3rd Big Week!” This changes cinema history!

When movies sold a lot of tickets back in the day, their ads in the newspaper would always have that line, “HELD OVER! 3rd Big Week!" That is where Terrifier 2 is.

I remember when movies did not open simultaneously on 2,500 hundred screens, and little independent films would come into town and some would do surprisingly good business and get a second or third week. But that was back thirty-five years or so. Since then, Hollywood concocted a formula for instant movie success, at least for the first weekend. (Open big, advertise until people can’t get away from it, and then grab all the cash you can.)

But the independent producers always had to be smarter than that. They knew they were not opening up on that many screens. Sometimes they only opened on a couple dozen screens, or less. They had to have a good movie.

Terrifier 2 is not only putting the independent slasher film back on the big screen where it belongs, they are succeeding like independent genre films have not succeeded in decades. And let’s remember, the word is spreading about Terrifier 2 without the benefit of newspaper ads. That’s outdated. I doubt there are radio and TV spots supporting this release. Nope, I suspect this is 100% word of mouth, from the fans who are lining up to check it out and vomit and pass out.

The vomiting and fainting are a gimmick, right? I don’t think so. We live in a world of instant everything, and iPhones and social media make it really easy to share pics of your friend or significant other in the lobby of a theater passed out.

The last time fans kicked up this much fuss about a movie making them sick was The Blair Witch Project (and that was from motion sickness) and before that The Exorcist. That’s some pretty good company to be in.

I don’t want to knock streaming. I understand why it is so popular, especially after the last two years, but I like watching films in the theater. I’m in my early fifties. They don’t really make movies for me anymore. I don’t care for Star Wars or superheroes, so there’s 30% of all releases that come out in a year. I don’t get to the theater often because they don’t make films that appeal to me too often. It seems like I’ve aged out of enjoying my passion in the theater, except for anniversary showings of classic movies. I miss going to the theater to see some little unknown movie and being surprised. That doesn’t happen anymore.

But it just did. Terrifier 2 is revitalizing an era of cinema that I was for sure was gone forever. And doing it the old-fashioned way, by word of mouth. Putting butts in the seats.

I forgot the one golden rule of slasher movies. You can’t keep a good boogeyman down.

In 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, I got the opportunity to interview David Howard Thornton about Terrifier 2. The first Terrifier movie had made waves when it got onto Netflix and people started talking about it. I thought, at the time, I was witnessing the new direction slasher movies- independent movies in general- would be taking in the new world of streaming.

Terrifier 2 had just shut down production with only a couple of days left of shooting. Thornton shared that director Damian Leone was using the free time he suddenly had to start editing the footage he shot, determined to put together the best movie he could. The emphasis was always on making the best movie possible.

Thornton shared various on-set stories. Again, the emphasis was always on quality- best story, best takes, best mood, best everything. I got the feeling that the Terrifier 2 cast and crew were so thankful to be making a second movie they really were trying to make a follow-up that fans would love.

When I asked Thornton about his thoughts on all the positive fan reaction to the first film, he said it made him happy. As a fanboy himself, he recognized the enthusiasm fans shared with him and that same enthusiasm went into making the sequel.

He went on to say he hoped they could take the sequel and expand on it like slasher films before it. “Here’s to hoping that there’s going to be some new blood, that we’ve inspired some new filmmakers to come up with some new characters. I think that would be great.”

His last comment has resonated in a major way. I know there are filmmakers out there, seeing what this little gory slasher movie has been capable of accomplishing, and realizing what is possible against whatever unsurmountable odds stand against them.

For myself, Terrifier 2 has reinvigorated my hope that streaming hasn’t killed all the fun, that there are still some thrills to look forward to. I have felt a bit disconnected from the films I love for a while, and now I feel like I’m part of the community again.

What does the future hold? Who knows. But we know it can happen. With other slasher films like the recently completed Mutilator 2 from Bud Cooper and original killer Timothy Raynor looking to follow up his southern fried slasher Final Exam, the future holds promise.

The shame is that video stores are gone. I can imagine all those wonderful Art the Clown Terrifier 2 video posters hanging on every vid shop wall from coast to coast. Well, I guess there’s streaming.

The complete interview with David Howard Thornton, as well as interviews with Bud Cooper, Lynne Griffin, Richard Haines, Sandy Johnson, Katherine Kamhi, Timothy Raynor and Mitch Wilson, are included in It Came From Hollywood Book 2, our big Salute to Slashers edition, available everywhere now.

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