Essays · Movies

Fan Theory Friday: Is Dr. Sam Loomis from ‘Halloween’ Sam Loomis from ‘Psycho?’

What if the name is more than an homage?
By  · Published on April 21st, 2017

Homage is rampant in the film industry. Writers and directors are always giving little nods to the films or filmmakers they admire in the form of plot points, lines of dialogue, or especially character names. Take John Carpenter’s masterpiece Halloween, in which the character played by Donald Pleasance, that of Michael Myers’ psychiatrist, is named “Dr. Sam Loomis.” This would seem to be an obvious and in fact blatant reference to the character of “Sam Loomis” from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, especially since the star of Halloween is Jamie Leigh Curtis who, of course, is the real-life daughter of Janet Leigh, imperiled heroine of Psycho.

But what if, just what if, Carpenter wasn’t being coy when he named his character Loomis? What if it was intentional, because Carpenter meant his Loomis to be the same as Hitch’s? Hear me out.

Okay, so in case you don’t remember, in Psycho Sam Loomis is the boyfriend of Marion Crane (played by Leigh). He’s also the guy who catches Norman in psycho-killer mode and turns him over to the authorities, thus ending his kill spree. Unfortunately, all this happens after his love Marion gets sliced and diced in the shower.

In the aftermath of such an event, owing to guilt, grief, and an overwhelming sense of helplessness, most people would respond in one of two ways: they’d either succumb to their emotions, or they’d use them as a catalyst for change. Assuming young Sam Loomis is the second kind of person, it isn’t much of a stretch to consider that he might respond to Marion’s murder and the other horrors at Bates Motel by dedicating himself to making sure such things never happen again. And what’s the best way to combat psychosis? Why as a psychiatrist, and a child psychiatrist at that.

So Loomis goes back to school. He gets his degree, and he moves away from Arizona to start fresh in Illinois. There, one of his first clients is a disturbed little boy who murdered his sister, a little boy named … you guessed it … Michael Myers.

In Myers Loomis sees a chance to prevent the kind of killer he saw in Norman Bates, and so throws himself into the boy’s treatment, working for more than two decades to try and rehabilitate him. It’s a tough road that causes Loomis to put on a few pounds and lose most of his hair, and in the end, it doesn’t work. I mean it really doesn’t work, and Myers breaks free of the state hospital to start an epic kill spree of his own.

Here’s where I think the theory gets most valid: Loomis’ response to Myers’ escape is pretty extreme, especially considering he’s a doctor of advancing years. He goes after Myers himself, and not to capture him but to kill him. This is not the response of a rational man, especially not a man who’s profession is based on rationality. It is, however, the response of a man who has first-hand seen the effects of a psycho on the loose and who would do anything — even irrational things — to stop said psycho from doing to others what Norman Bates did to Marion, his other victims, and their loved ones left behind, of whom Loomis can count himself. For five films — five films — Loomis pursues Myers. That’s not professional dedication, that’s obsession. That’s guilt. That’s PTSD.

Verdict: I’d think if this was 100% true Carpenter would have acknowledged it by now — which he has not — but outside the realm of intention, this one seems really, really plausible to me, and regardless, it’s a cool way to connect two titantic horror flicks.

I first heard about this in the following video from WhatCulture. I’ve cued it up to start with the Loomis theory, but be sure to check out the rest of the video for some other fascinating horror film theories. And if you want to check out previous entries of this column, just click here.

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