Halloween and the Limits of Cinematic Meaning

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Abstract

The article reads John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) from the perspective of the (im)possibilities of cinematic meaning. The horror film seems to be an especially fruitful field for such studies, since its aestheticpsychological mechanism usually aims at destroying the kind of spectatorial position necessary, at least according to semiotic and postsemiotic theory, for the generation and reading of meaningful signs. Placing the film in the theoretical context of such scholars as Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Kaja Silverman, Steven Shaviro and Todd McGowan, I attempt to analyse the ways the film disables the production of semiotic meaning and rewrites some of the well-established concepts of film theory. I call into play Barthes’s concept of the punctum, McGowan’s cinema of intersection, Lacan’s later theory of the sinthome, Silverman’s post-Lacanian ideas about the cinematic gaze and the spaces of spectatorship, and Shaviro’s provocative insights about affective cinema so as to indicate how a film may prove its quality precisely at the points where it does not make sense

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Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies

The Journal of "Sapientia" Hungarian University of Transylvania

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