Lock your doors! Bolt your windows! Turn off the lights! I love John Carpenter’s Halloween. It’s a scary favorite that I never fail to catch on TV, or play my DVDs – either the theatrical release, or TV version with extended footage. Halloween was re-imagined by director Rob Zombie, and while I admire his effort, I’ll always watch 1978’s over the more jarring remake.
All well earned praise to a landmark American horror film. Arguably, it’s influenced as many shock movie makers as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho – a film it’s so often compared to, most notably since the classics boast mother and daughter lead actresses Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis. I’ve watched the flick so often, I fire off dialogue, and eagerly anticipate surprises I know so well. Today, after watching it for an umpteenth time, Dr. Loomis bothered me.
Actor Donald Pleasence gives Loomis an urgency, that along with Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, forms an intricate triangle. After murdering his sister, Myers is put under care of shrink Loomis. When he escapes, to go on a bloody rampage in his former home town, Loomis sums it up tag line style, “He came home.”
Here’s how Loomis explains Myers.
“I met him 15 years ago, I was told there was nothing left. No reason. No conscious. No understanding in even a most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, of right or wrong. I met this 6 year old child with a blank, pale emotionless face… with the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent 8 years trying to reach him, another 7 trying to keep him locked up, because I realized what was living behind those boys eyes was purely and simply evil.”
It’s an exchange between Loomis and a nurse, while they drive to the mental hospital which irks me. The nurse quips, “The only thing that bothers me is their gibberish… when they start raving on and on.” Loomis replies, “You haven’t anything to worry about, he hasn’t spoken a word in 15 years.” Whoa! Michael Myers didn’t open his trap in a decade and a half, but you’re sure he’s pure evil? OK. Makes sense… Gotcha!
The town’s sheriff says to Loomis, “Damn you for letting him go!” Indeed, Loomis is so driven since he knows how badly he screwed up, and also can’t fathom just how he knew Michael Myers was ‘pure evil’ – when the boy never spoke a word for 15 years. He killed his sister, but hasn’t spoken in nearly two decades. Is Loomis a mind reader? Does Doc practice an advanced body language divinity? Did little Mikey Myers draw evil stuff, or a Rorschach ink blot thing, predicting a return to the scene of his crime to wreak ghastly havoc?
John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween is a scare fest masterpiece, with moody atmosphere, memorable music, fun dialogue, and vivid characters. It’s a sock to our minds, a punch to our collective primal gut. However, Dr. Loomis appears spookier than villain Michael Myers. He somehow knew his primary patient was an utter threat to public safety. He somehow divined it through a boy’s eyes, or body language. A hospital must study Loomis. His psychiatric care lets brutal killers slip through his custody, yet his eerie, psychic like clairvoyance deserves clinical documentation.