This introductory chapter provides an overview and a synopsis of John Carpenter's Halloween (1978). Halloween is an acknowledged horror classic, and one of the relatively few horror films added to the National Film Registry by the U.S. Library of Congress, an honour accorded to it in 2006. A large part of the effectiveness of Halloween lies in its willingness to be basic and uncomplicated. Even its stylistic flourishes, highly ambitious for such a low-budget independent production, are smoothly integrated, instead of being showy and ostentatious. Carpenter has characterised Halloween as an exercise in style, and freely uses the term ‘exploitation film’ to describe it. The chapter then considers the relationship between Halloween and the slasher film. It also assesses the role of urban legend themes in Halloween, and how the film evokes a practice that anthropologists and folklorists have dubbed ‘legend tripping’.
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