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How ‘Terrifier 2,’ filmed on Staten Island, slashed its way to box-office millions

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It was the film that made audiences shake, cry, vomit and faint.

Now, as its theatrical release comes to a close, assistant director and producer of arguably the biggest horror flick of the year has offered a post-mortem look at the success of “Terrifier 2,” the indie slasher movie that has grossed $11 million at the box office despite a measly $250,000 budget.

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New Dorp resident Michael Leavy, of Fuzz on the Lens Productions, producer of “Terrifier 2.” (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Michael Leavy, New Dorp resident and co-founder of Fuzz on the Lens Productions, told the Advance/SILive.com the response and reception of “Terrifier 2″ has been nothing short of surreal and humbling.

“I didn’t expect it to really go viral in the way that it did, and for it to have such a positive response from the general audience, too,” said Leavy, who teamed up with writer/director Damien Leone, producer Phil Falcone, producing parter and brother Jason Leavy, and a bevy of other Staten Islanders, to create the, well, terrifying movie.

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Director Damien Leone, producer Jason Leavy, actor David Howard Thornton, assistant director and producer Michael Leavy on set. Indie slasher movie “Terrifier 2″ from Staten Islander Damien Leone has grossed $11 million at the box office despite a measly $250,000 budget. (Courtesy of Michael Leavy)

Released on Oct. 6 and slated for a very limited run in theaters, “Terrifier 2″ took off with audiences, raking in $3.4 million at the box office within the first two weeks, and even caught the eye of horror maestro Stephen King.

“Every night it was getting sold out, so [its run was] expanded again, and again … it’s now been in theaters for six weeks,” said Leavy ahead of the film’s final theatrical showing on Nov. 17.

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Producer Jason Leavy, assistant director and producer Michael Leavy and director Damien Leone on set. Indie slasher movie “Terrifier 2″ from Staten Islander Damien Leone has grossed $11 million at the box office despite a measly $250,000 budget. (Courtesy of Michael Leavy)

Partially shot on Staten Island in late 2019 and early 2020 — look carefully and you’ll notice scenes at Monsignor Farrell High School in Oakwood, Bayley Seton Hospital in Stapleton and several other familiar neighborhood haunts — the clown-based slasher flick serves as the sequel to 2016′s “Terrifier,” which follows Art the Clown’s (David Howard Thornton) Halloween gory killing spree.

And we mean gory.

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Fuzz on the Lens Productions founders Michael Leavy, Steven Della Salla and Jason Leavy on the set of “Terrifier 2” with fellow Staten Islander and cinematographer George Steuber. Indie slasher movie “Terrifier 2″ from Staten Islander Damien Leone has grossed $11 million at the box office despite a measly $250,000 budget. (Courtesy of Michael Leavy)

In fact, Leavy said the small-production film was initially a hard sell for distribution due to the explicitly graphic violence; he admitted the film’s honchos were told it was “totally unmarketable.” Eventually, however, a few distribution companies realized its potential, and began to bid on it. Cinedigm’s aptly named Bloody Disgusting ended up securing distribution rights.

“It’s a very graphic film, yes, but it’s also done tastefully. It’s a good story, it’s got great acting, it looks beautiful. The effects are amazing.

“The companies [who ended up bidding] were companies that understood the film and its potential. And now look at where we are, look at the film’s gross” said Leavy. “So much for [it] being a totally unmarketable movie.”

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Producers on set of “Terrifier 2”. Fuzz on the Lens Productions’ Michael Leavy, Steven Della Salla and Jason Leavy; director Damien Leone; cinematographer George Steuber; executive producer Phil Falcone; producer Larry Bilello and sound man Jason Milstein. Indie slasher movie “Terrifier 2″ from Staten Islander Damien Leone has grossed $11 million at the box office despite a measly $250,000 budget. (Courtesy of Michael Leavy)

CREDITING THE FANS

Leavy credited the ultra-violent film’s cult-like following for the undeniable success of “Terrifier 2.”

“The reason why this film is where it is today is because of our fans,” said Leavy.

He noted the popularity of the R-rated sequel came just as organically as the first “Terrifier,” and he’s grateful to fans for sharing their authentic reactions — and traumatic watching experiences — since there was purposely no marketing done on the film.

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Assistant director and producer Michael Leavy, actor David Howard Thornton, and director Damien Leone on set. Indie slasher movie “Terrifier 2″ from Staten Islander Damien Leone has grossed $11 million at the box office despite a measly $250,000 budget. (Courtesy of Michael Leavy)

“It was just word of mouth,” insisted Leavy. “The rumors of people passing out, fainting and vomiting were very real. We can’t take credit for it, all credit [goes] to the fans.

“You can’t buy that kind of publicity. I wish were were that smart [to think of that marketing], but it was all the fans.”

The fans were also a big reason the “Terrifier 2″ crew waited to release the film until this fall. Leavy said it was crystal clear to everyone involved — especially Leone — that the film be damn near perfect so as not to disappoint.

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Producer and assistant director Michael Leavy with fellow Fuzz on the Lens Productions founder Jason Leavy at the monitor with director Damien Leone on the set of “Terrifier 2,” which filmed at Monsignor Farrell High School in Oakwood. Indie slasher movie “Terrifier 2″ from Staten Islander Damien Leone has grossed $11 million at the box office despite a measly $250,000 budget. (Courtesy of Michael Leavy)

“We have such a … great fan base, and we didn’t wanna let them down,” said Leavy, who had a cameos in both films alongside brother Jason and producing partner Steve Della Salla. “[The fans] were the number one [priority] to us, so we needed to be a hundred percent happy with it.”

Box office numbers don’t lie: It’s clear they made the right choice.

“To have this kind of success has been really incredible,” said Leavy.

FYI: There are plans to make this franchise into a trilogy. That’s right, Leavy confirmed audiences haven’t seen the last of newest bonafide horror icon Art the Clown.

“Terrifier 2″ is now available on streaming platform Screambox. Those brave enough — and steel-stomached enough — can also find it on Amazon Prime, Voodoo and iTunes. It is expected to be released on DVD and BlueRay next month, with plenty of special features, behind-the-scenes looks, commentaries and more. Be forewarned, the movie is intense.

UP NEXT FOR FUZZ ON THE LENS PRODUCTIONS

Fuzz on the Lens is already working on another horror flick.

Stream,” which Leavy said isn’t as intense as either “Terrifier” films, stars Jeffrey Combs (“Re-Animator”), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Dee Wallace (“E.T.”, “Cujo”) and Danielle Harris (”Halloween”), among several others.

Fans hoping to get involved with production can donate through crowd-funding website Indiegogo.

“Terrifier 2″ was written, directed, edited and produced by Damien Leone. It was produced by Fuzz on the Lens Productions and Dark Age Cinema, with music by Paul Wiley. It stars David Howard Thornton, Elliott Fullam, Sarah Voigt, Kailey Hyman, Casey Hartnett, Charles McElveen, Amelia McLain, Johnath Davis, Samantha Scaffidi.

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