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You see my dear Kate, I've played this role before.
~ Harlan Caruthers' most famous quote., is that fair? But then, is it fair for a man to be denied the one thing he desired beyond life? I could've given her everything... but she chose him instead. Why is it that women who become artists make such bad choices?
~ Harlan Caruthers
Well, no matter, tonight the stage is mine. I have everything that a star could ask for, captive audience, beautiful leading lady, and no critics.
~ Harlan Caruthers

Harlan Caruthers is the main antagonist of the 1998 horror film The Clown At Midnight. He is an insane but devious serial-killer who successfully evaded detection until near the end of the film, framing a number of other people (dressed as clowns) for his crimes while continuing his long crusade of death in an opera house where years previously he had killed his love-interest due to her rejecting his advances: he then began murdering anyone he came across with the use of elaborate death-traps.

He was portrayed by Christopher Plummer, who also portrayed General Chang in Star Trek, and voiced Charles F. Muntz in Up, Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, 1 in 9, The Grand Duke of Owls in Rock-A-Doodle, Arthur Case in Inside Man, and King Herod in The Star, while stunts were done by Rick Skene.


Harlan Caruthers was the owner of an opera house, where he became obsessed with an opera singer named Lorraine Sedgewick. But Lorraine rejected his advances, because she was in love with her co-star Lorenzo Orsini and the two were gonna get married. After a performance of Pagliacci, Caruthers dressed in Lorenzo's clown costume and killed Lorraine in her dressing room. He was never caught and instead everyone blamed Lorenzo, who was rumored to have fled to Europe. However, Caruthers hid Lorenzo in the opera house, effectively ruining his life.

Seventeen years later, a group of high school kids were tasked by their teacher, Ms. Ellen Gibby, with cleaning up the opera house, as she was reopening it. For some reason, Mr. Caruthers decided to dress in the clown costume and murder Ms. Gibby and the volunteers.

After killing off Gibby, Caruthers trapped the volunteers inside by chaining the doors and cutting the phone lines. He went after the volunteers and killed them one by one, until Kate Williams and George Reese were the only survivors. Lorenzo eventually came out from hiding and tried to warn Kate of Caruthers, but she mistook him for the killer. Kate climbed up on the catwalk to get away from Lorenzo, but ran into Caruthers who claimed that Lorenzo was the killer and beckoned Kate to come to him. Lorenzo followed Kate up on to the catwalk where he tried to take revenge on Caruthers, who tossed him off, killing him. Caruthers, then knocked out Kate after she had told him to stay away.

While Kate was unconscious, Caruthers dressed her like the leading lady and tied her to a plastic tree on the stage. After explaining his motives, Caruthers attempts to get Kate to reenact Pagliacci with him. However, George shows up dressed up like Carnio and the two get into a brief scuffle. While they're fighting, Kate works at the rope around her wrists. Caruthers wins the fight and grabs the dagger, attempting to get Kate to sing for him. She doesn't and tells him to kill her already. When he goes to stab her, Kate wriggles free from her binds and crawls away. Caruthers grabs her dress, but she manages to knock over a music stand that held a screwdriver. Kate then stabs Caruthers in the eye and runs to the levers that activate trap doors on the stage. Too distracted from the pain, Caruthers realizes too late that he's standing over one of the trap doors. Kate pulls the lever and sends Caruthers plummeting into the basement where he lands on and is impaled through the abdomen by an assortment of weapons, which kills him and finally ends his reign of terror.


  • 1: Lorraine Sedgewick - Stabbed multiple times with a dagger.
  • 2: Ellen Gibby - Axed in the head.
  • 3: Ashley - Strangled with necklace.
  • 4: Monica - Stabbed through stomach with spear.
  • 5: Marty Timmerman - Electrocuted.
  • 6: Taylor Marshall - Thrown off roof.
  • 7: Cheryl Webber - Decapitated with sword.
  • 8: Lorenzo Orsini - Thrown off catwalk.



My uncle built it in the turn of the century. I grew up loving it, it became a part of me, part of my soul in fact. Caruso sang here, you know. McCormick. Chaliapin. Melba. So many memories, so many ghosts.
~ Caruthers talking about the opera house.
Well, it was many years ago. It happened right here in this theater. The opera was Pagliacci. Orsini was singing the role of Carnio and quite magnificiently. His leading lady was a rising young opera star called Lorraine Sedgewick. She was very beautiful. He was passionate about her, but she would have nothing to do with him. However, Orsini persisted. He was obsessed, he wouldn't take no for an answer. Then one night, he found her with another man. It broke him completely. So, when the curtain came down on the final performance. He waited for Lorraine to be alone in her dressing room. Still wearing his Pagliacci costume. He burst in and stabbed her to death. The cleaning staff saw him leave the theater covered in blood. Minutes later, the police arrived, but it was too late. He was gone.
~ Caruthers telling the volunteers of the murder of Lorraine Sedgewick.
Caruthers: Oh, Kate. The minute I saw you, I knew fate had given me a second chance.

Kate: What?
Caruthers: Things didn't work out between me and your mother, but they could be different now, with you and me.
Kate: Stay away from me!
Caruthers: How like her you are. So beautiful. So foolish.

~ Caruthers to Kate before knocking her out.
It was a mistake for your friends to come here. When that teacher of yours persisted, I knew what I had to do.
~ Caruthers speaking to Kate while putting on his clown make-up.


  • The name of the clown character in Pagliacci, is Carnio/Canio.
  • Whether or not Caruthers was responsible for the fresh blood on the carpet in Lorraine's dressing room, remains unknown.
  • There are two possible reasons for Caruthers killing Ms. Gibby and the volunteers.
    • He feared that they'd find Lorenzo.
    • He resented Ms. Gibby for buying it.

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