We get a pretty regular email here at Headpress Towers. It unfailingly reads something like this:
Hi—Is the new edition of Killing for Culture ever going to come out? Presumably not, just thought I’d find out for sure.
This is, we’d be the first to concede, a very reasonable question. The new edition of that seminal Headpress release has been postponed more times than Sepp Blatter’s resignation…
Now, the first edition of Killing for Culture deserves its reputation as one of the strangest best sellers ever written. Simultaneously an exposition of the snuff myth and a history of all manner of death on film, it sold over 20,000 copies—and will forever be filed under ‘cult classic.’ Meanwhile, in the lengthy period since its publication, a great deal has taken place, both in terms of the world in general, and in the weird realm of death-on-film in particular: the Internet, for example, which has led to the likes of ISIS, Luka Magnotta and more popularising choreographed, filmed atrocity in a way unimaginable back in the early nineties…
Yet the funny thing is (and this is what we say, however briefly, in response to those emails) the book has been under construction the whole time—all that time, more or less, since authors David Kerekes and David Slater finished the first edition back in 1993.
Well, you know how the old saying goes—you wait all decade or two for one magnum snuff opus and two come along at once. That is, not only is Headpress going to actually release the new edition of Killing for Culture (!)—first of all in a deluxe special edition, available to pre-order this December—but, to mark its belated reincarnation, we’re also releasing an official Killing for Culture documentary, made by David Hinds and Thomas McGrath (me, as it happens), titled The Death Illusion: Murder Cinema and the Myth of Snuff, starring none other than Killing for Culture co-author David Kerekes.
The exclusive thirty-minute documentary is now available to one and all to enjoy free of charge online:
As for the book, as someone who has read it can confirm, it’s been well worth the wait…unless you happen to think nothing is quite worth a twenty-three year wait. It is, regardless, incredible, and makes its epochal predecessor look like a mere doodle. Indeed, where the former boasted of covering the history of death-on-film ‘from mondo to snuff’—this one broadens its vista ‘from Edison to ISIS’.
Update: now available! See link below.
Want to know more? Pick up a copy of Killing for Culture: from Edison to Isis, by David Kerekes and David Slater. Available in paperback and a limited special edition hardback.
Unlike images of sex, which were clandestine and screened only in private, images of death were made public from the onset of cinema. This book is about those images and their impact on society.