This article appeared on HHNVault in October 2005.
Halloween Horror Nights XI went down in Horror Nights history as the year that was “toned-down” – Due to the events of September 11th, Universal's Design and Marketing teams were faced with a tough choice... cut the gore and violence, or stay true the terror of Halloween Horror Nights™? The country was in shock after the disaster, and the last thing people wanted on their minds was death. With 9/11 occuring just 3 weeks before the event start, the decision needed to be made, and quickly–
Universal made the call to alter the event completely: from names and descriptions to the overall execution of Haunted Houses and Scare Zones.
- “The Festival of the Dead Parade” became “Nightmares on Parade"
- “Slasher Alley” changed to “Nightmare Alley”
- “Bloodbath Underground” became the “Ooze Zone”
...and many other name changes were involved (you can view the Pre-9/11 Flyer, which shows you the original titles below).
But the most prominent change for the 2001 event would be none other than the icon of the event himself...
Eddie is a lesser known icon of Horror Nights due to the fact that he essentially never made the cut. After the events of September 11th, Universal began to downplay the maniacal chainsaw wielding horror movie buff. Toning down the entire event, they made Eddie Sawyer become Eddie Schmidt - Jack the Clown's younger brother, putting clown make-up on his face hoping that would dismiss the brutal back story of young Edgar. Come the middle of the event, “I.C.U.” shirts bearing Eddie’s picture slowly disappeared, and were replaced with “new” 2001 Jack shirts stating “Jack’s Back”.
But now, several years after the event, we’ve decided to unearth the original story of Edgar Sawyer. Unlocking The VAULT once again, we bring you the entire backstory of the murderer with a chainsaw… Eddie.
We find ourselves in a dark room, perhaps a basement somewhere. We can barely see the form standing in front of us. A flash illuminates the figure. We see a glint of steel. Was it the blade of a chainsaw?
Another flash, we see a silver muzzle, screwed into the flesh of this person's face.
Another flash of light blinds us, becoming more disorienting. We see a pale white eye staring at us with no emotion.
Suddenly we hear the loud roar of a chainsaw, feeling the intensity as it cuts through the air. One last blinding flash of light allows us to see an image of pure terror.
Young Edgar Sawyer was a fanatic about horror movies and television shows, growing up on a steady diet of schlock theatre and Classic Universal horror. His family life was a real nightmare and as he grew up, he took solace in his friends in the dark. Living in a broken down trailer park, Edgar would create wonderful escapes in his mind and through the movies.
The slasher films of the eighties played a huge role in shaping Edgar's fragile mind. He began to admire the screen icons of horror, memorizing every word, knowing every body count.
At the age of eighteen, Edgar decided to turn his trailer park into a haunted house for locals to experience the fun and thrills that he so adored. A group of local teens with mischief on their minds decided to destroy Edgar's work.
They set a small fire in the park, not knowing that the obsessed teen was home. The trailer park was engulfed in flames, trapping Edgar inside. He was terribly disfigured, forever scarred by the severe burns on his face and hands. He regressed even further into his obsession, donning a mask and becoming EDGAR DICE SLAY.
This year Edgar has grown bored with the normal Halloween offerings and has decided to take over Universal Studios, creating the most terrifying place on earth to share his love of the darker side of life.
His new chill rides will give you the opportunity to scream and scream again. He's also brought a few friends along to guarantee that you will have the time of your life.
But be careful of this young man, he will spare no expense to create the perfect scare. This year, there's no more clowning around!
Eddie had, no doubt, an amazing backstory– since 2001, Eddie has become a myth, with fans morbid curiosity getting the best of them. The icon never saw the light of day until “Horror Nights Nightmares” in Halloween Horror Nights 14, and he made very small appearances a few years after. However, we were able to dig deeper into The VAULT to uncover several official press photos of Eddie that were never released, a HAUNTVAULT Exclusive (see below).
Also found in The VAULT, the never-aired radio ad advertising Eddie’s mutilation, and promising “More gore than ever before!” (see below).
Eddie's Legacy: An Interview with James-Michael Roddy
We sat down with former Horror Nights designer, James-Michael Roddy. The manager of show concepts and scripts at Universal Orlando (from 1993-2002) for an interesting interview about the character development, and how Eddie would have impacted the 2001 event:
DR.FREAK: How long did you work with Universal, and what did you do?
JAMES-MICHAEL RODDY: I worked for Universal Studios Florida just about ten years. I started as a Performer and then moved into Show Quality as a Performance Coach. During this time I began writing and Directing special Events including work on Halloween Horror Nights. In 1998 I became the Manager of Show Concepts and Scripts, with that position I was responsible for developing and managing the creative content for the parks, particularly events such as Halloween.
DF: What were some of your achievements with the event?
JMR: I was part of a very talented design team, which inherited the Halloween event and developed it into its most successful period. I also helped create some of the "Icon" characters for the events, including JACK, EDDIE, and THE CARETAKER.
DF: Why exactly was Eddie never unleashed?
JMR: Eddie was originally a depraved individual with a real love of horror films. His love of the genre mixed with his lunacy would give him a real edge to designing horror mazes. Then we were attacked by terrorists and the Halloween event changed; Eddie became Jack's brother.
Eddie was originally going to be a real threat to Jack. He would have carried a decapitated clown head and the slogan for the event would have been HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS - NO MORE CLOWNING AROUND. But then all gore and blood references were removed due to sensitivity. Red Blood became green goop...
DF: Do you feel that keeping him from public eye was necessarily the right thing to do?
JMR: In a way - yes. The discussions were certainly relevant. I mean we owe it to be sensitive to people's feelings. Unfortunately, there are always extremes when dealing with political and world events. Some people begin to second-guess the second-guessing, and then it almost defeats the validity of what you are protecting the audience from. In my opinion, the audience needed a release, and Halloween became that for them. They could still be safely scared as opposed to what was happening in front of the televisions every night.
DF: Tell us more about the character, what set him apart from other mascots?
JMR: He was more of a real threat. Based a little more in the human world as opposed to the supernatural elements that layered Jack and the Caretaker's stories. He also used real instruments - a chainsaw.
DF: How was Eddie going to fit into the event itself? Was anything special planned for his appearances?
JMR: Each Halloween, it was always our plan to have one of the mazes reflect the back-story of the icon - Jack was a part of THE FEARHOUSE - The Caretaker was part of SCREAMHOUSE. Eddie was going to star in RUN. He was also going to be part of the Chainsaw Drill team.
It's funny, because early on, we were going to revisit JACK and his relatives were going to join him. BLACK JACK, LOW JACK and HIGH-JACK. All a family of carnie/clowns with different specialties.
DF: What kind of advertisements were we looking at before the decision to leave Eddie out the picture? More corrupt than ‘Jack’s Back,’ I assume?
JMR: Well, NO MORE CLOWNING AROUND was the front-runner, with Eddie and his permanent goalie mask. Chainsaws were going to play a big part of the campaign, as well as the destruction of Jack by this new kid in town.
DF: Out of all the icons you helped create, which one was your favorite, and why?
JMR: I have a real favorite spot for JACK. Jack was just so much fun to write for, and he seemed to be such a rock star. I felt like these guys were my Freddy Krueger’s or Michael Myers. I still remember unveiling JACK to a crowd of horror fans at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors on my birthday of that year - what a great memory.
DF: Well thank you for your time! But more importantly, thanks for making horror nights what it is. You are truly a master of scares.
JMR: Thank you for the interest. Everyone is entitled to one good scare…
The impact Eddie would have made on Halloween Horror Nights XI still remains a mystery. Leaving nothing behind but a shadow, Eddie has come and gone from Horror Nights history. Much like his relatives, Jack The Clown, The Caretaker, and The Director, it is unknown if Eddie’s time to shine has truly past, or if we may hear the rev of a chainsaw again in the future.