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
Belting, Hans. 1994. Likeness and Presence. A History of the Image before the Era of Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Barthes, Roland. 1981. Camera Lucida. Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang.
Brousse, Marie-Hélène. 2007. Hysteria and Sinthome. In The Later Lacan. An Introduction, eds. Veronique Voruz and Bogdan Wolf, 83-94. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Clover, Carol J. 2002. Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film. In Horror. The Film Reader ed. Mark Jancovich, 77-90. London and New York: Routledge.
McGowan, Todd. 2007. The Real Gaze. Film Theory After Lacan. New York: State University of New York Press.
Rockoff, Adam. 2002. Going to Pieces. The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978-1986. Jefferson: McFarland.
Shaviro, Steven. 1993. The Cinematic Body. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.
Silverman, Kaja. 1996. The Threshold of the Visible World. London: Routledge.
Worland, Rick. 2007. Halloween (1978). The Shape of the Slasher Film. In The Horror Film. An Introduction, ed. Rick Worland, 227-242. Oxford: Blackwell.