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Damien Leone Interview 01

Damien Leone (above right) is the director of the recently released film All Hallows' Eve. Horror DNA's TGM got a chance to sit down with Leon and the two discussed his current film, favorite authors, future plans, and more!


TGM: The character design for the evil clown is quite striking. How did it come about?

Damien Leone: I guess there was a part of me that wanted to make Art the clown the polar opposite of Stephen King’s Pennywise in terms of look and personality. Although both are totally evil and sadistic, Pennywise is a talker, very colorful and obnoxious. Art the clown is a mute, his sense of humor is a little more low key and his clown costume only consists of white and black.

For Art’s face, I wanted it to be very gaunt and zombie-like. The prosthetic has evolved over the years. His features were a little more subtle years ago but now they’ve become more extreme.

TGM: Clowns seem to be universally hated and/or feared. Why do you think that is?

DL: Because they are creepy as hell! Actually, clowns never really frightened me but I always understood their ability to evoke terror.

I’ve narrowed it down to a few reasons. They’re total unpredictable, their mannerisms are so completely abnormal and exaggerated that they become almost alien and the white face make-up takes the cake. If you took that terrifying white face away from Regan in The Exorcist, would she be as effective? No way.

TGM: Why do you think there aren't more movies centering on this seemingly obvious villain?

DL: I’m not sure. Maybe because Pennywise is a very tough clown to compete against. I’m glad there aren’t too many creepy clowns. Hopefully this gives Art a chance to stand out among the few!

Damien Leone Interview 02

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TGM: In many ways All Hallows' Eve is a throwback to classic horror films of the '70s and '80s. What were some of the specific influences that the creative staff used to shape their own vision?

DL: Yes, very much so. I’m heavily influenced by horror films from those decades. I like approaching familiar territory then putting my own spin on it. It seems Art the clown was original enough in his own right to make things seem fresh even when we were toying with horror cliches.

TGM: Kudos to your special effects team. The creature design in the first vignette is creepy as hell, and the gore in the third vignette is fantastic. Anything you'd like to say about the people responsible for the practical effects?

DL: Thanks! I’m actually the special effects artist as well. Aside from an assistant here and there helping me apply make-up, I’ve literally created every creature/special effect myself. I must however give a big shout out to my buddy Gary Lo Savio, the co-producer, who helped me build the alien suit. We went nuts scrambling to build that thing last minute.

TGM: In the film, in lieu of candy, the protagonist drops VHS tapes filled with scenes of murder in children's bags. To be honest, if someone dropped off a VHS tape in my candy sack I wouldn't even be able to play it, making for a very short film with me shrugging and then tossing it into the trash.

DL: [laughs] I knew the VHS angle was going to be tricky, but it’s an old-school film and Art the clown is an old-school villain. He doesn’t even know what a DVD player is. Forget about a Blu-ray! Anyway, the VHS is not part of Art’s shtick, so you will not see that angle again in subsequent films.

Damien Leone Interview 03
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TGM: What do you find the most challenging making a low-budget film? The most rewarding?

DL: The most challenging part is getting everything done in such a short period of time for such a low budget. It takes a very heavy toll, especially since I’m the sole make-up artist. So far, the budgets have not allowed me to hire a make-up FX team. They would probably charge more than the budget itself.

On the flip side, since I am a pretty decent make-up artist, I can create a lot of FX for as little as possible without paying myself.

The most rewarding is having a finished product that you’re proud of, but more importantly that people respond to. I just stumbled across an All Hallows’ Eve vlog that a teenager posted on youtube and he was praising the film. Things like that really make all the blood, sweat and tears worth it.

TGM: Are there already plans for a sequel? The clown is so disturbingly wonderful, it would be a shame not see more of him in the future.

DL: Yes, there is for sure. We’re going to make a stand-alone film featuring Art as the sole villain. It will be along the lines of the third short film in All Hallows’ Eve. Non-stop Art the clown mayhem.

TGM: What film or book do you turn to for scares?

DL: I read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve read stories that give me the creeps from both writers.

TGM: Now that All Hallows Eve is complete, what's next on your plate?

DL: Frankenstein VS The Mummy! I’m very excited for it. We start filming sometime in January. I’m writing, directing and doing the FX once again. Jesse Baget, the producer of All Hallows’ Eve is producing this as well. We’re going to make a very dark and violent film. My main intention is to not make a mockery of these two horror icons and give fans exactly what the title promises and then some.

Horror DNA would like to thank Damien for his time!

All Hallows Eve Cover
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