Ahab and His Whale Pt 1: A Study of Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers

The dynamic between a man and the monster he pursues.

Throughout the slasher genre, we are treated to occasions where the killer is matched in tenacity by a recurring hero. These heroes are known as “ahab” archetypes. The most famous are Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers, Tommy Jarvis and Jason Voorhees, and Nancy Thompson and Freddy Krueger. Today I will talk about the first pair, the earliest pair.

Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers, I think, have the most interesting dynamic. And that is for one very simple reason: on some level, they care about each other. Whether it’s Dr. Loomis’ continued efforts to try to reach Michael and bring him in peacefully or Michael pausing to listen to Loomis rather than attack him immediately as he would anyone else, there is a clear connection between the two.

Dr. Loomis describes his early encounters with Michael Myers as such:

“I met him, fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”

15 years, they have known each other for. That’s 3/4 of Michael’s life at the time of the first two films and a large portion of Sam Loomis’ as well. In some ways, I would not be surprised in the least if Michael actually views Dr. Loomis as a sort of father figure. And it is this caring for each other that makes their battle so much more intense. They both know each other probably better than anyone else, they care about each other, and they want each other dead.

The fifth film, Revenge of Michael Myers, is seen as inferior to many viewers. But I feel it has the best interactions between the two characters. It has Dr. Loomis and Michael come face-to-face and ends with the Ahab getting his white whale in a chain net, pumping him full of tranqs, and ripping a board from a window to proceed to beat his quary repeatedly to the point of unconsciousness for Michael and a stroke for Loomis. Not bad for an old man.

I wish I could see two things: 1. A portrayal of those early years between Michael and Loomis, perhaps even just of the day 7 years before the first film that Sam realized that evil was a 14 year old boy. And, you know, without adding in stupid things like “he did it because his mom was a stripper and his dad was abusive redneck trash”. And 2. A culmination, one last fight between the two taking place after The Curse of Michael Myers (Producer’s Cut) where we see a final resolution to one of the greatest character dynamics in history.

Sadly, neither of these will come to pass as Donald Pleasance, who played Dr. Loomis, died shortly after filming wrapped up on Halloween 6. R.I.P. Donald.

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