September 28, 2020

HHN ICON: Jack the Clown

“You think you know me? You don’t know Jack!”

Name: Jack Schmidt
Aliases: Ringmaster, Chaos, Clown Prince of Blood

For the first time since 1995, Universal finally brought back a palpable mascot. But this time, with a twist. It was no movie icon, but something original, created by the minds of Horror Nights themselves.

Jack Schmidt was an evil clown with a great story backing him up. Because of the success of the character, Universal had original mascots for the following several years.

A little-known fact about Jack the Clown is that in the original concept artwork, the character was modeled after Universal’s Show Concepts and Script Manager James Michael Roddy. Jack’s complexion resembles that of Roddy’s almost identically.


The Tale of Jack


Jack Schmidt was a circus performer. He loved to entertain children with his practical pranks and prat-falls during his stint with DR. ODDFELLOW’S CARNIVAL OF THRILLS. But underneath the greasepaint and clown nose, he held a hideously dark and sinister secret. Jack was a twisted murderer. He was wanted for the abduction and disappearance of several small children throughout the Southern states. Police officials soon caught on that the missing children followed a pattern that led them closer and closer to the traveling freakshow.

On Halloween 1920 the police were closing in on the Clown killer. Fearing capture, Jack revealed his sinister secret to Dr. Oddfellow in the hopes of possible concealment. The Good Doctor was himself wanted by the police for the accidental death of several patrons in a freak circus accident years earlier under a different name. The Doctor was not sympathetic to Jack’s cause; in contrast, he quickly admonished him for potentially bringing the police down upon the entire band of miscreants. He asked Jack to show him what he had done with the bodies of the children. Jack revealed the bodies of thirteen children hidden in the confines of three small trunks that were kept in his traveling coach.

Fearing the worst, Dr. Oddfellow had Jack murdered and his body hidden within the traveling carnivals House of Horrors as an exhibit, along with the bodies of the children.

Years later the Carnival was sold by Dr. Oddfellow, and the various dark rides and exhibits were split and sent to various owners around the states, including the House of Horrors and it’s grisly secret.

Sixty years later, in the Fall of 1980, a television crew from the BBC was documenting the great Dark Rides of America. They journeyed throughout the eastern seaboard looking for forgotten carnival rides and attractions. They stumbled upon the House of Horrors as it sat abandoned in a Louisiana Junkyard. The crew asked permission to film the interior. Twenty dollars later, the film crew pried open the doors of the forgotten relic and stepped inside. The smell of decay was overpowering as the bright camera light illuminated the darkened corridors.

Moving past the faded walls and hanging fabric, the smell began to increase. The cameraman retched as he panned his camera towards a series of trunks. Behind the trunks was a large wooden box stenciled like a children’s toy. One letter filled each side of the box. J – A -C – K.

The Cameraman steadied his camera as the Host of the show investigated the box. He found a large crank on the side of the box. He turned the crank with some resistance, but after a few twists, it freely moved in a clockwise rotation. A clanky musical melody played out as the Host smiled into the camera.

“It still works!” said the Host. Suddenly the Music stopped. The Host’s smile turned to an embarrassed clench of teeth. He rotated the crank once more with no result. Suddenly the Light from the camera died. He turned to see the Cameraman move away. He heard the sound of something wet. He grabbed his flashlight and clicked it on. The Cameraman was standing a few feet farther away. “Sorry – My light died.” he grinned. Then, without warning the crank rotated a few spins. The top of the box flew open and a form sprung out. Affixed to a giant spring was the decomposing body of Jack Schmidt.

After a thorough police investigation, the bodies of the thirteen children, as well as the body of Jack, were shipped to the local Louisiana Coroner’s office for further examination. The bodies of the children arrived later in the evening. At approximately Midnight on October 31st, the van carrying the body and box of Jack disappeared into the Louisiana swamp. A freak accident. Later that week the bodies of the BBC cameraman and Host were found the result of a grisly and unsolved murder.

Throughout the following years, there have been urban legend retellings of this tale, with a corresponding story about the decomposing body of Jack killing again. The legend states that Jack is searching for Dr. Oddfellow, in a thirst for vengeance. The legend also states that Jack will reward anyone who releases him from his toy tomb by turning the crank with a very special reward. No one to this day has lived to tell exactly what the reward is.

October 2000 – Universal Studios is bringing some of the original pieces of Dr. Oddfellow’s carnival of thrills to highlight the popular Halloween Horror Nights event. The Publicity and Marketing Department has also decided to play on the urban legend of Jack. Designers of the event have been able to acquire what has been sold as the original box in which Jack was trapped. No word yet on the actual validity of the find.



By: Michael Aiello

Irreverent, sarcastic, trash-talking, sadistic, prankster, psychotic… Yeah, I missed him, too.

Is this your first introduction to Jack? Welcome! He’s your master of ceremonies, your host—and your worst nightmare. The things he has in store for Halloween Horror Nights 25 draw on our past and on terrors yet to be seen.

For fans who know his tale, you’ll notice he has escaped the shadow of Oddfellow completely. He has shed his old coat for something of his own design. His face is more weathered, more lived in.

Jack has come into his own, and he is eager to preside over the spectacle of it all—especially if that spectacle is filled with screams, blood, and gore. He, most certainly, wouldn’t have it any other way.

Historically, Jack represents a key change in the story of Halloween Horror Nights. From 1991 to 1999, the event’s visual presentation—from chainsaws through pumpkins to green eyelid-pulling-demons to the Crypt Keeper’s decaying features—were just illustrations that filled the marketing materials. Halloween Horror Nights hadn’t really established a unique character that could speak for it.

That was about to change in a big way…

In early 2000, the creative minds of Entertainment’s Art and Design team developed an insane clown by the name of Jack. His look played into people’s inherent fear of clowns and would hopefully give the event the sledgehammer to the chest needed to take it to the next level.

Well, a monster was unleashed, both literally and figuratively. Unbridled, uncontrollable, freakish and violent, Jack the Clown sprang from his box and completely took over. He grabbed the event by its face and crushed it, laughing maniacally the entire time.

Jack made appearances all over downtown and the Orlando area, yelling and cackling and scaring everyone within his broken-fingernailed-reach. He even presented tiny, gore-covered jack-in-the-boxes to local TV stations and City Hall. Cops were called. Screams were heard.

Job well done.

Jack made an impression, no doubt. So much so that, to this day, fans stop us and exclaim passionately, “Bring Jack back!! He’s my favorite!! He is Horror Nights!”

That statement really says it all… Jack is Horror Nights.

Among all the characters that have headlined Halloween Horror Nights over the last 25 years, Jack represents the event in the purest way possible—he is the embodiment of all the tricks and the treats. And I couldn’t be more thrilled that we’re bringing him back for this year’s historic event.


Jack and the ICONS Sweet 16In 2001 at Halloween Horror Nights XI, Jack replaced Eddie when he was deemed too gory for a post 9/11/2001 event.

He returned alongside The Caretaker, The Director and Eddie in the Halloween Horror Nights XIV: 2X The Fear haunted house “Horror Nights Nightmares”.

Jack returned the next year at Halloween Horror Nights XV: Tales of Terror as the MC of “Rat Run”, a caged maze set up in the former Bone Yard.

Jack once again became an icon during Halloween Horror Nights XVI: Sweet 16 along with The Caretaker, The Director and The Storyteller to rule over the event, and appeared in the haunted house, “Psychoscarepy: Maximum Madness”.

His backstory was added to for the seventeenth year. At Halloween Horror Nights XVII: Carnival of Carnage, he became the Ringmaster of a traveling carnival after murdering Oddfellow. He took the doctor’s “Cane of Souls” and made the carnival his own Carnival of Carnage. He brought three of the most known horror madmen of the movies, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger and Leatherface along with him.

Jack was seen yet again on the last weekend of Halloween Horror Nights XIX: Ripped from the Silver Screen, in the Scarezone Shadows from the Past.

At Halloween Horror Nights XX: Twenty Years of Fear, Jack appeared as one of Fear’s minions in the Fear Revealed Scare Zone and at the end of the haunted house, Horror Nights: The Hallow’d Past. He also appeared as part of a photo-op located near the Bill & Ted show/lagoon.

Jack returned to be the ICON of Halloween Horror Nights 25, the 25th year for HHN.  He appeared aged and alongside Chance in the return of the Carnival of Carnage stage show.  Jack was also in the Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters & Mayhem house.

Not Afraid of the Dark? You Don't Know Jack

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