Johnny Terris

Profile  |  Exhibitions  |  Network  |  Comments
Quick Facts
Birth year
underground, cult, filmmaker mixed-media, video-art, surrealism, photography, digital, conceptual, sculpture, exhibition/performance

Born in Toronto and raised in Pictou County Nova Scotia, Dutch-Canadian Johnny Terris is an actor, filmmaker, writer, producer, ex-model, painter, photographer, editor, visual artist and is, without a doubt, one of a kind due to his overwrought graphic shockers that consistently push the boundaries of psychological and surrealistic horror film into unchartered territories that few dare to follow.

Born in 1973, he shot his first short film in 1987 at the age of 14.

His early career was cemented in trashy, politically offensive comedies; two of which consisted of a small town mother and daughter team who drink contaminated tap water and go insane and another about two white trash, disease-infected street prostitutes who go mad and beat each other to death while locked inside a trailer.

While the early films were created in somewhat as disturbing comedic-style violence and complete annihilation of filmatic structure and formula, it was 2004's horror opus 'Inside Inoxia', starring himself and actor/artist Leland Stoelwinder, that put Terris on the map as a filmmaker who can blend beauty and horror simultaneously.

Whether it's a warped psychedelic fairytale populated with evil witches, demonic visuals and black magic mantras or a blistering old school heavy rock soundtrack with electric visuals of street-tough headbangers from the wrong side of the tracks, Johnny Terris has come to define a unique take on underground cinema. He blended gay visuals with gore/horror imagery some 5 years before it became gay alternative chic to do so and was the first and only filmmaker to ever depict queer metalheads in a masculine, rough and non-campy way.

Although known for the ability to drastically change his look into a wide variety of different characters, hardly any contemporary critics have mentioned his films or work and he likes it that way. In fact most of the world has no idea who he even is despite having over 20 years in the industry. With a strict motto of "underground should stay underground", he is often extremely reclusive and never one for self-promotion. The vast majority of his work remains hard to find or only available exclusively through him and is usually embraced by the younger punk, metal, and anarchist audiences who shy away from mainstream and indie art.

Ultimately, Terris will never win over the masses with his quintessentially niche brand of scattershot narratives, most likely due to his uncomfortable and brutal method of completely annihilating stereotypes and his hostility towards the archetypal film formula; but yet its the sexual imagery combined with dark stylized nightmarish landscapes and fractured visuals that is exactly what his fans adore.

Although his roots remain in underground art, Terris has flirted with television and more independent cinema from time to time.

2002 saw him relocating to Maui Hawaii to study boxing and martial arts before taking a lead film role in Birmingham Alabama where he played a psychiatrist in the drama thriller "Silent Alarm", who oversees the mental breakdown of a depressed young man addicted to painkillers and emotional trauma who is unable to speak or tolerate speech.

In 2004 he was featured in a television commercial for Safehouse Women's Shelter in which he played an abusive husband and played the disobedient and lazy husband in the comedic film "Faux Paw" which was screened to sold out audiences at Carver Theatre in downtown Birmingham.

At the end of that year he traveled back to Hollywood California with heavy metal legends Girlschool on their US tour and filmed some behind the scenes/backstage footage with them of their Hollywood gig and soundcheck which also included members of AC/DC and Motorhead. This footage was compiled as an unreleased video for the Girlschool single "A New Beginning" and afterwards he edited and compiled two memorial tribute music videos to personal friend/original Girlschool guitarist Kelly Johnson, who lost her life that year due to a long battle with spinal cancer.

In 2009 he was cast to play Jack The Ripper and Abraham Lincoln in two off-Broadway plays by internationally known NYC playwrights Joe Landry and Brian Gazeley (though had to pass on the projects due to conflicting schedules) and has been cast to play the antagonizer in the horror film "Bloodkin" alongside the cast of the original Texas Chainsaw Masscare.

Whatever direction he goes into, filmmaking seems to be his main forte and Terris is not of course, without his comparisons.

In the past he has been described as an underground Dario Argento and his early films have been compared to early David Lynch, 1970's XXX cinema and the Cinema Of Transgression NYC underground film movement from the early/mid 80s.

But if you think his dark art consists solely of a film roaster, think again.

As well as an extensive 20+ year filmography, he writes, sculpts, casts and paints, often times mixing his own blood, hair, skin and semen mashed together with acrylics and clay which is apparent through the deep scarification on his left arm and chest where he would literally throw his own flesh and blood into his artwork..

There is no doubt that Johnny Terris has turned his obsession of the surreal into an independent profession and is an unapologetic artist who beats to his own drum regardless of repercussions or critique.

He currently lives in Canada, is working on new films for 2011 and has released an autobiography on his life and films titled "Sinister Splendor & Broken Glass: Memoirs Of An Underground Filmmaker".

Exhibited with these artists
Exhibited at these venues
Johnny Terris has Exhibited at these venues:

ArtSlant has shutdown. The website is currently running in a view-only mode to allow archiving of the content.

The website will be permanently closed shortly, so please retrieve any content you wish to save.