The Case for Dr. Loomis (Scott’s Horror Corner!)
I hesitate to be a guest on this site and do much more than review because if I give my opinion on wrestlers vs. horror figures, that can only be entertaining but I don’t think I can fool anyone into thinking I’m an expert on horror like Wes. That said, I’m a brash American and I’m going to give my opinion on horror! To be specific, I wanted to talk about probably my favourite character in horror and that’s Dr. Loomis from the Halloween movies.
I have a hunch that I’m not alone in this, as certainly I’ve seen him quoted a lot by horror fans I know and while perusing the Comic Book Shoppe, for example, I saw a little diorama/toy set of Michael Myers and his counter was not a random victim but rather, Dr. Loomis. I’d say it’s rare, at the very least in the slasher genre, to have a secondary character who is popular and not just because of kitschy one liners or the way they died. As Halloween movies got more ridiculous, Donald Pleasance was as good as ever. I don’t really want to get into the new Halloween movies much because that’s certainly its own rant, but it says something when I actually dislike a Malcolm McDowell performance. Pleasance was just perfect in the Loomis role.
So, I thought it would be fun to look in to what made Samuel Loomis such a great character.
The Lines: I watched the original Halloween on VHS in the middle of the day at about the age of 9, I’m not sure why I was allowed to do this, but in spite of it being broad daylight it scared the hell out of me. Loomis only made things worse. It’s one thing to be scared, it’s another when someone justifies it to you. You SHOULD be scared.
Through the movie, Pleasance conveys the looming evil better than any cheap scares could. Not that Halloween didn’t have cheap scares. But it was Pleasance’s fatherly delivery, authoritative but with that hint of worry he added, that scared me. Of course, perhaps his best line was his simple answer to Laurie Strode’s question “Was it the boogeyman?”
“As a matter of fact, it was.”
Unwavering Dedication: The empathetic nature of Loomis’ character stems mostly from the fact that he has taken all of Myers’ evil onto himself. He has made it his own personal mission to assure he does no more harm to the world around him. As Wes has often put it to me, he was in the “Ahab Archetype”, single-mindedly chasing this ‘evil’ thing. Of course, Moby Dick didn’t have nearly as many sequels, but Loomis survived as the bright point of the later Halloween films. He stuck around through 3 generations of Strode’s all the while, shooting Michael and beating him to (near) death with wooden planks. Jason was first round KO’ing all of his victims, so it says something when a man has that much longevity, which brings us to….
Durability: Loomis was looking old in Halloween. We’ve all had tough Grandpa’s, but Loomis was the toughest. He didn’t know martial arts, he wasn’t a weight lifter in fact he was sporting a cane and still chasing Michael around. And he took his beatings! Head smashed against windows, thrown out of windows. (Spoiler alert, though if you haven’t watched this movie in the past 31 years you probably chose to skip it) Loomis even went so far as to blow himself up with Michael in a room full of gas at the end of Halloween II. It was supposed to wrap up the series and if you watch it, you’ll see that explosion would’ve wrapped anybody’s lives up pretty nicely. Of course, you can’t let a good story get in the way of money, so it turns out they only kind of blew up.
The good doctor made it all the way to the sixth movie before being offed. Pleasance himself passed roughly six months before the film was released. It was a fairly disappointing (and off screen) end to such a wonderful character. My personal favorite scene of his was in the fourth movie, The Return of Michael Myers. The plot was not quite too wacky yet, Michael was just going after yet another Strode family member, this time his young niece Jamie. At the end of the movie, Myers is shot repeatedly by a police force until he falls down a well; the well is then blown up. Don’t worry though, in the end he was alright. For the time being, it seemed to all be over.
I tend to judge the success of a person based on whether I can find a YouTube video set to the Johnny Cash cover of ‘Hurt’ and sure enough, Loomis has one. I do think it’s a shame that he never got a proper write off. I guess the very essence of a successful horror franchise is to keep going until the entire cast is gone, or nowadays, until it gets ‘re-imagined’. Personally, I couldn’t imagine Loomis being done any better than Donald Pleasance. Pun intended. Cue “Nobody Does It Better” playing over a montage of Sam beating Michael to death with a 2X4.