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This book argues that Halloween need not be the first nor the most influential youth slasher film for it to hold a special place in the history of youth cinema.
John Carpenter’s 1978 horror hit was once considered the be-all, end-all of teen slasher cinema and was regarded as the first, the best, and the most influential American slasher film. Recent revisions in film history, however, have challenged Halloween’s comfortable place in the canon of youth horror cinema. However, this book argues that the film, like no other, draws from the themes, imagery, and obsessions that fueled youth horror cinema since the 1950s—Gothic atmosphere, atomic dread, twisted psychology, and alienated teenage monsters—and ties them together in the deceptively simple story of a masked killer on Halloween night. Along the way, the film delivers a savage critique of social institutions and their failure to protect young people. Halloween also depicts a cadre of compelling and complicated youth characters: teenage babysitters watching over preadolescents as a killer, who is viciously avoiding the responsibilities of young adulthood, stalks them through the shadows.
This book explores all these aspects of Halloween, including the franchise it spawned, providing an invaluable insight into this iconic film for students and researchers alike.