Recounting the Incompetence of Dr. Loomis from ‘Halloween’ (1978)

“Forget a manhunt, I’m just going to wait outside Michael’s house until he’s done murdering people all night and try to reason with him,” – Probably Dr. Loomis when he was making his dumb plan.

Dr. Loomis is completely useless in the first entry of the Halloween franchise. Of course, in a completely literal context of the word, saving Laurie Strode from Michael Meyers at the end of the film would technically be deemed “useful” at the very least. But is it actually useful when Dr. Loomis’ prior actions or inactions are part of why Laurie is in danger in the first place?

When we first meet Dr. Loomis, he is traveling to Smith Grove’s Sanitarium with his assistant, Marion Chambers. They’re both tasked with transferring their patient, Michael Meyers, to a hospital near Michael’s home town so that he can stand trial now that he is of age to do so. Dr. Loomis explains to Marion how dangerous Michael is and wants to be sure that Michael is never released back into society.

This already leads me to a number of questions. Why is this the first time Dr. Loomis is explaining Michael Meyers to his assistant? Wouldn’t you have briefed your assistant of your incredibly dangerous client well before taking them to help you transfer the client to another location? Also, why are you taking a station wagon for this transport? There’s no protection between yourself and Michael if he’s sitting in the seat behind you. We’re a minute into being introduced to Dr. Loomis and he’s already showcasing horrible judgement and preparedness.

As they approach Smith Grove, they see that there are patients who have escaped the hospital and are wandering around the property. At this point, Dr. Loomis gets out of the vehicle, leaving Marion alone while he goes to investigate the gate. As he’s inspecting the gate, Michael attacks Marion, hijacks the car and speeds off as Marion manages to get away.

This will be the first of many examples of Dr. Loomis’ lack of situational awareness. Loomis gets out to examine a gate that you can see is very clearly busted from the car and leaving Marion to fend for herself in a chaotic situation is not very smart or considerate. On top of everything, because Loomis gets out of the car, Michael is able to steal it and begin his reign of terror.

It’s not until late morning/early afternoon that Dr. Loomis contacts the authorities in Haddonfield, Illinois to warn them of the approaching psychotic murderer. Instead he spends his morning with the hospital administrator so he can berate him for Michael’s escape. In the time he’s wasted, Michael has already murdered a mechanic and stolen his clothes (more on this in a moment), driven to Haddonfield, visited his sister’s grave site to dig up what I’d imagine is an incredibly heavy tombstone (more on this later as well), returned to his childhood home, visited his elementary school alma matter and found his next target. Michael accomplished all of this and Loomis had yet to do the simple task of making a phone call.

Speaking of that phone call, Loomis pulls over to the side of the road to a payphone where he stumbles on a nearby empty truck. What he doesn’t notice is that the owner of that truck is lying dead a few feet away, murdered by Michael. We’ve spoken about Loomis’ lack of situational awareness, but this is the first of many examples of Loomis’ lack of general awareness.

The next logical course of action would be for Dr. Loomis to head straight for the old Meyers’ house, right? Wrong! Loomis decides to delay this to visit the gravesite of Judith Meyers. As he approached the grave of Judith with the graveyard keeper, they notice that the tombstone is missing. Loomis deduces that this must be the work of Michael and declares, “He’s come home.” (Ya don’t say?) This was another whopper of a time-waster, when later Loomis would get his confirmation again that Michael has “come home” by… visiting Michael’s home and seeing he’s been there. Why would you go to the gravesite first when you could just go to his house? It serves Loomis no purpose and wastes more valuable time.

After Dr. Loomis takes his detour, he’s able to locate the town sheriff on a call at a local hardware store where someone had broken in and stole Halloween costumes (Michael perhaps?). As they converse, you can see Dr. Loomis’ hospital car with Michael in the background. Michael had been stalking his future victims prior to the doctor’s arrival. He doesn’t have to worry though, because even though he’s driving in an incredibly distinguishable vehicle with a giant hospital logo on either side of the car, Dr. Loomis doesn’t notice as it lurks and then drives right past him. Loomis isn’t even in a conversation anymore, he’s just standing there completely oblivious. Meanwhile Michael is just like:

via GIPHY

Side note- My biggest issue with this movie, which I thought was excellent despite what you might think reading this article, is the idea that the authorities wouldn’t have put out any sort of APB in search of Dr. Loomis’ stolen car. Michael drove that car around town the entire day in broad daylight and nobody was looking for him? If they were , he would absolutely have been caught. There was a large psychiatric ward symbol on the sides of it! Just have the police keep an eye out and nobody would’ve been murdered, including the sheriff’s daughter.

Continuing with the ineptitude, Loomis goes with the sheriff to the Meyers’ household, where they discover Michael has been there and again confirms he has indeed come home. Had Loomis just warned the police a serial killer was headed their way the night before and suggested they post a couple officers at the Meyers’ house, they would’ve caught him.

Loomis’ big plan is to just wait for Michael in the bushes outside of the house, until he gets back from his murdering….

Here’s the clincher. Never mind that Dr. Loomis isn’t “hiding in the bushes” as much as he’s “around the corner from the house practically out in the open.” Never mind that Dr. Loomis could’ve gone directly to the house in the morning and already caught Michael. While Dr. Loomis is just standing there for hours waiting, Michael Meyers is literally DOWN THE BLOCK, murdering people. His lack of observational skills is truly astounding. Had Loomis just looked down the street, he would’ve seen his car sitting right there! He only stumbles on it and realizes what’s taking place because after all of that waiting, he walks a few feet down the block, notices the car and then Laurie running away from Michael and screaming.

Sure, he “saves” the night by rescuing Laurie, but he doesn’t even kill or capture Michael. Instead he wastes an entire day where he could’ve easily prevented the murders of at least three teenagers. It doesn’t matter that he rescued Laurie. He’s the one responsible for putting her in harms way because of his complete and utter incompetence.

I haven’t seen any of the other movies from the Halloween franchise, but my guess is that judging by the number of installments that have been made, Dr. Loomis doesn’t get much better at catching Michael.

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