Sam, or "Samhain", is the brainchild of film director/writer Michael Dougherty, appearing first in Dougherty's 1996 short film, Season's Greetings, and then in the horror film Trick 'r Treat. He was played by child actor Quinn Lord in the film. Appearing as a seemingly innocent masked trick-or-treater, Sam is revealed to be a demonic pumpkin-like creature who acts as the enforcer for the rules and traditions of Halloween, and is willing to do anything to make sure these rules are honored. Sam is essentially the Spirit of Halloween and has even been said by some to be a personification of the holiday itself. Since the film's release, Sam has become the mascot of Halloween.
Sam's name originates from Samhain, the origins of Halloween itself. He is depicted as a child dressed in a Halloween costume, which consists of an orange set of pajamas, and a mask made of a burlap sack with buttons for eyes. Sam drags a dirty sack around with him throughout the film, but its contents are unknown, presumably candy; Although the blood stains on the sack and the cat screeches that are occasionally heard from it strongly suggest otherwise. Despite his childlike appearance, it is established that Sam is more demonic than he appears, hiding a pumpkin-shaped head resembling a skull. Dougherty described Sam's head as a cross "between an embryo and a pumpkin". Quinn Lord, who plays Sam in the film, described his character as being a demon who was born in a pumpkin patch.
Behavior and Purpose
Sam acts very much like a child; being mischievous and appearing to love candy and chocolate. In a deleted scene of the film, Sam is shown flipping the bird to Charlie. Sam is the personified being of Halloween itself as well as the enforcer of its traditions and rules. He visits a different town every year on Halloween and appears in Trick 'r Treat to enforce the rules of the holiday and punish those who ignore and defy them.
Sam's Halloween Rules
- Always hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.
- Always wear a costume.
- NEVER blow out a Jack O'Lantern before midnight.
- Always respect the Dead.
- Always check your candy.
- NEVER take down your decorations before November 1st.
- NEVER hurt the innocent.
Being the Spirit and incarnation of Halloween itself, Sam naturally possesses dark supernatural powers:
1. Immortality & Re-Animation: He is shot by Mr. Kreeg which temporarily subdues him, Kreeg then proceeds to blow off Sam's right hand. Sam awakens moments later and reattaches his hand. (Sam has been in existence ever since the ancient Celtic Pagans celebrated Samhain and it is possible that as long as the holiday is alive in some form or another, Sam will continue to exist)
2. Wallcrawling: Scale walls and ceilings much like a spider.
3. Necromancy: Summons the dead to do his bidding and kill others. (i.e. The Halloween School Bus Massacre victims)
4.Teleportation: Sam naturally possesses the power to disappear and reappear whenever and wherever he wants to. (He really knows how to toy with his victims)
5. Telekinesis: Sam causes the door to open to make his exit after attacking Mr. Kreeg and close forcefully behind when he leaves.
6. Phobikinesis: Sam has mastered the ability to manipulate the fears of others to play with his victims' minds.
7. Regeneration: He was shot in the head and had visible damage, but when he came to, the damage was gone. Sam's regeneration power is strong enough to reattach severed parts, i.e. his hand.
8. Superhuman Strength: While fighting Mr. Kreeg, Sam is able to knock him down just by jumping at him. He is also able to break Mr. Kreeg's arm during their fight just by twisting it with ease.
9. Possession: Possesses Rhonda in order to leave her tormentors left for dead to the Halloween School Bus Massacre zombie kids. (She waves 'Goodbye' to Macy, Schrader, Chip, and Sara in exactly the same manner as Sam waves 'Hello' to Mr. Kreeg after his awakening)
10. Omnipotence: Simply causes the supernatural to happen by his own will or presence.
11. Shape-Shifting: Transforms his true appearance into that of a costumed child.
12. Magic: Sam has potentially thousands of years worth of knowledge and experience in many forms of Magic including Black Magic and Witchcraft.
13. Clairvoyance: Sam possesses countless psychic abilities that he may use to his advantage. (i.e. Touching an unlit Jack-O-Lantern to see whether it has been blown out by a human or the wind)
14. Many more...(yet to be defined)
While Sam has no officially established age, it has been theorized that he is likely as old as Halloween itself; roughly 2,000 years. In spite of his childlike appearance, Sam is apparently hundreds if not thousands of years old, and known by many cultures around the world in one way or another. In the graphic novel 'Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead,' one of the stories concerns a 19th century pioneer girl named Sarah who befriends an Indian tribe living on land that her railman father wants to develop. The tribal chief's daughter gives Sarah a handmade doll of Sam (Whom the tribe at one point refers to as "The Great Autumn Spirit") that she says will protect her from harm. This leads Sarah to ask if he is a good spirit, and the chief's daughter responds "I would not say that. But the shaman told me he is very old, and very powerful."
To the untrained eye,
Sam looks like a little boy out for a night of gathering candy,
but what's hidden under the orange footy-pajamas is anything but sweet.
The burlap sack with button eyes and a stitched-on smile shrouds something sinister,
If Sam appears on your doorstep this Halloween,
you better be wearing a costume and you better have a bowl full of treats,
or you'll be in for one hell of a trick.
Being the Spirit of Halloween and possessing god-like or near god-like power, Sam can alter his shape, size, and overall appearance at will and may choose to come in any form as he so pleases. This being the case, Sam's disguise of choice is that of a child dressed in an innocent-looking Scarecrow costume. The scarecrow itself symbolizes fear and its manipulation. It is possibly for this reason that Sam chooses to masquerade as one.
Sam's disguise allows him to blend in with the costumed humans and trick-or-treaters that are out and about on Halloween. Altering his size to that of a small child and wearing a Halloween costume, nobody would think twice about his appearance (Although Principal Wilkins seemed to be slightly disturbed by his presence); This allows Sam to keep an eye out for those that violate the rules and rituals of Halloween.
For reasons only known to him, the only part of his body that Sam chooses not to alter is his head; only choosing to conceal it with his iconic scarecrow mask. This is why Sam's head looks disproportionately larger when compared to the rest of his false body. It is possible that Sam keeps his true face for the purpose of frightening any that may see it so that they know exactly who/what they're dealing with.
While few have seen Sam's true face (and lived to tell about it), even fewer (close to none) have seen Sam's true form. While it is unknown what exactly his true form is, it is safe to say that his demonic Jack O' Lantern-like face gives some idea as to what it may be: A dark, imposing, divine, terrifying, omnipotent being that bleeds darkness, death, mischief, chaos, and fear wherever he goes; whose very presence causes supernatural phenomena to occur; The very essence and the personification of Halloween itself. Even when he has shape-shifted, Sam still maintains many of these traits.
While Sam's mysterious origins are not yet known, it is possible that he simply came into existence as a result of early humans celebrating Samhain over 2,000 years ago.
In Season's Greetings, Sam is seen looking for candy on Halloween. After failing to get any, Sam wanders into a dark alley and is attacked by a man in a black hooded cloak. (Possibly a serial killer or child molester) However, the fight ends with Sam emerging from the alley with a full sack.
In Trick 'r Treat, Sam visits the fictional Warren Valley, Ohio. He traverses throughout the town to observe other people as they either celebrate or ignore Halloween, punishing those who ignore the rules. Sam deals with several different groups of characters throughout the film's non-linear storyline.
During the film, Sam watches as a group of werewolves feast on a gathering of unsuspecting men and punishes several children by raising the corpses of the school bus massacre victims after they kick over a Jack O' Lantern. Chronologically prior to these events, Sam invades Mr. Kreeg's house in order to teach him the rules of Halloween. Kreeg fights for his life until he unintentionally gives Sam some chocolate. Sam's last appearance in the film is him going to punish a woman named Emma after she puts out the candle in jack o'lantern, Sam slits her throat with the sharp lollipop that he was going to use on Mr. Kreeg, and then strings up her various disembodied parts like Halloween decorations.
Filmmaker Michael Dougherty created Sam through various doodles and drawings as both a mischievous trick-or-treater and alter ego to himself. The character would make his first ever appearance in Dougherty's 1996 animated short, "Season's Greetings". Another motivation behind Sam's creation was to give Halloween an official mascot akin to Santa Claus for Christmas or Cupid for Valentine's Day.
Sam's full name, Samhain, is pronounced as it is spelled as opposed to the Celtic holiday's pronunciation "Sow-en".
- Trick 'r Treat: The Lore and Legends of Halloween documentary.
- Deleted scenes on the Trick 'r Treat DVD.