David Kerekes & David Slater - Killing for Culture:From Edison to Isis: A New His [Headpress - 2016]Killing for Culture is an extremely thorough, at times unsettling, yet often fascinating book about the history of death on film. Covering both simulated & real deaths- taking in Mondo movies, Snuff, televised deaths, internet killings /executions, films, books(about snuff), video games, fetish porn, and beyond
The book comes in the form of a thick, perfect bound glossy paperback- taking a whopping 646 pages. Mostly the book is black & white printed on good paper stock; though there are a few colour sections dotted though-out the book, taking in garish Mondo film artwork, gore footage, etc. Contents wise you get a blend of text & relevant monochrome pictures, illustrations, etc, and really it's the definitive text on the subject of death on film. This is actually a updated version of a book from 1993- the original version of the book came in at 285 pages, so really this new edition is double the originals length.
As it’s sub-title suggests the book begins discussing Edison & early death related film footage; though these are discussed in fairly short & sharp manner. The book really gets into its stride discussing 1976’s Snuff- the film that really started the modern mythos of the Snuff. From here the book goes onto cover in detail other 1970’s films that are note worthy for their portrayal of Snuff related footage, such as Last House On Dead Street, Hardcore, and Emanuelle In America.
Following this we get a wider discussion on found footage & related genre films. Before we jumping into a big chunk of the books coverage, and that is the Mondo film- at first the wider history of the mondo genre is discussed, before going onto chronological & often lengthy reviews of every film in the mondo genre, starting with 1962’s Mondo Cane & ending with the wonderfully titled Terrorists, Killers & Middle- East Wackos from 2004. This takes as around half way though the book.
Next we jump back to 1976’s Snuff again before moving on to FBI investigations into if snuff films exist. Then onto fetishist underground simulated death films, death related film work relating to music, etc. Before moving on to a big chunk of media related death.
After this the remaining nearing 300 pages of the book really focus in more on the internet and related deaths- really bringing things up to date with the Isis execution, death image related sites, murders posted on-line, etc.
For the most part the book is a informative, well-written, and passioned study of death on film. I did find the discussing of 1976’s Snuff several times though-out the book a little tiresome, but of course understandable as it was very centrally to the snuff mythos.
In summing if you have any interest in the darker side of film & moving images- this really is something you must pick-up, as you’ll find it both intriguing & often disturbing reading. And even if you already have the original 1993 edition of the book, you still need to pick this up as you get a lot of extra material, bringing things fully up-to-date. The book can be purchased direct from Headpress here.Roger Batty