Headpress Books Established 1991

Killing for Culture

From Edison to ISIS: A New History of Death on Film

“I thought I was desensitized. I’m not. No hope for humanity… I feel like my quest is over.” — Comment online in reaction to the video, 3 Guys 1 Hammer

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Adrian SmithCinema Retro
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A fascinating, Nietzschean experience of staring into the abyss and seeing what stares straight back.
Dejan OgnjanovićRue Morgue magazine
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Out of print since its first release in 1994, this cult book is now available in an edition that is, at a staggering 630 lavishly illustrated pages, literally twice the size of the previous edition. It’s appropriate because the world has changed significantly in the last two decades, making its subject even more pertinent.
Sight & Sound
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Refreshing. Stands as a definitive study.
Melody Maker
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Utterly unputdownable.

Unlike images of sex, which were clandestine and screened only in private, images of death were made public from the onset of cinema. The father of the modern age, Thomas Edison, fed the appetite for this material with staged executions on film. Little over a century later the executions are real and the world is aghast at brutalities freely available online at the click of a button. Some of these films are created by lone individuals using shaky camera phones: Luka Magnotta, for instance, and the teenagers known as the Dnipropetrovsk maniacs. Others are shot on high definition equipment, scripted and professionally edited by organized groups, such as the militant extremists known as Isis.

Killing for Culture explores these images of death and violence, and the human obsession with looking — and not looking — at them. Beginning with the mythology of the so-called ‘snuff’ film and its evolution through popular culture, this book traces death and the artifice of death in the ‘mondo’ documentaries that emerged in the 1960s, and later the faux snuff pornography that found an audience through Necrobabes and similar websites. However, it is when videos depicting the murders of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg surfaced in the 2000s that an era of genuine atrocity commenced, one that has irrevocably changed the way in which we function as a society.

Killing for Culture is a compelling and thought-provoking book, fully revised and expanded since its publication in the (pre-Internet) nineties to critical and public acclaim.

  • First published in the 1990s to critical and commercial acclaim, Killing for Culture, one of the most influential of modern (film) texts has a complete makeover.
  • Long out of print, the previous edition was ‘pre-internet’, giving some idea of the wealth of new material in this revised and updated edition.
  • Achingly topical and up to date: streaming militant propaganda is viewed by millions and the source of major news stories.
  • Discusses the most enduring of modern mythologies, the ‘snuff’ film.

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From Edison to ISIS: A New History of Death on Film

Killing For Culture Paperback

David kerekes & David Slater

978-1-909394-34-6 (pbk)
978-1-909394-35-3 (ebk)

1 June 2016

Film / pop culture / true crime

Size & Pages
229mm x 152mm / 646

36 colour plates & 200 b&w images

David Kerekes

DAVID KEREKES is co-founder of the publishing house Headpress. He has given talks and written extensively on film and media, including the books Killing for Culture (1994; expanded and revised in 2015), See No Evil and Sex Murder Art. His novella Mezzogiorno is rooted in the impoverished Italian South, touching on themes of family, community, place, and deep-rooted occult and folkloric beliefs. He has contributed to zines and books, most recently the foreword to Snuff: Real Death and Screen Media (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016).

David Slater

DAVID SLATER co-founded Headpress. He has worked as a technician in the electronics and engineering industries, co-authored Killing for Culture (1994 & 2016) and See No Evil: Banned Films and Video Controversy (2000) and has written several articles. His interests include movies, books, open country and forteana.

Killing for Culture

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