One of the most famous moments in writer/director Damien Leone’s slasher Terrifier (read our review HERE) involves Art the Clown (played by David Howard Thornton) sawing Catherine Corcoran’s character Dawn in half while she’s naked and hanging upside down. Apparently that left some members of the fan base expecting to see more female nudity in this year’s Terrifier 2 (our review is HERE)… and when the sequel didn’t deliver the nudity they were looking for, they took to Twitter to complain about it. Corcoran saw the tweets, and has gathered her thoughts on the subject in a very interesting write-up that has been released through The Daily Beast.
In the article, Corcoran looks back at the history of nudity in film, eventually putting the focus on nudity in slasher films and her own experiences doing nude scenes in both Terrifier and Troma’s Return to Nuke ’Em High. The whole write-up is absolutely worth checking out, and here’s a sample of the section that addresses Corcoran’s Terrifier death scene:
When Damien Leone offered me the role of Dawn in Terrifier, he was confident that the now infamous “hacksaw scene”—in which Art the Clown strips my character, hangs her upside down, and proceeds to slowly cut her in half with a hacksaw—would indeed make history. It was, and continues to be, the most dangerous undertaking that I have ever participated in as an actor, and frankly not one that I would ever encourage anyone to attempt. And yet, the scene’s impact is undeniable.
The reason Dawn’s death in Terrifier holds such gravitas is because it is heavily rooted in reality. Much like Lynda in Halloween, Dawn is a character who openly embraces her sexuality, femininity, and freedom. She is assertive and outspoken, and as a result, the brutality by which she is “punished” for said traits forces her to be horrifically vulnerable, highlighting the very physical essence of what makes her female. The visceral, gut-wrenching, bone-chilling emotions evoked when watching her death scene do not lie in the fact that she is nude; they lie in the mercilessness of stripping someone of their autonomy and personal power and forcing those who care about them to watch.
This is where quality cinema is found—not in box office numbers nor in the opinions of some nudity-seeking Twitter trolls, but in the challenging of our psychological depths and understanding of what it is to be human. And while the decision about what makes a film great is completely subjective, I would encourage viewers to seek out these kinds of metaphors, learn about the meaning behind the stories, and notice the ways they’re executed—all of which have nothing to do with how much skin you see on screen.
What do you think of Dawn’s death scene in Terrifier, and what Corcoran had to say about it? I think she provided great insight on why the scene is so effectively horrifying. Share your thoughts on this subject by leaving a comment below – and be sure to click over to The Daily Beast to read Corcoran’s full op-ed.