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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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.

Additional information

Weight 1 g
Dimensions N/A
Book Format

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By David Kerekes, David Slater
Book Format Paperback
Book Pagecount 646
Book ISBN 978-1-909394-34-6
Book Size 229mm x 152mm
SKU: 093f65e080a2


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A depressing yet compelling book … It is however a fascinating, Nietzschean experience of staring into the abyss and seeing what stares straight back.Adrian Smith, Cinema Retro
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.Roger Batty, Musique Machine
For previous editions of Killing for Culture:
Utterly unputdownable.Melody Maker
The undisputed film book of the year. Buy it then die.Fatal Visions
Refreshing. Stands as a definitive study.Sight and Sound
Exhaustive and definitive study of the phenomenon.Manchester Evening News
Meticulously researched, comprehensive, well-written and intellectually fertile.Eros Digest
One of the most bizarre books you’re ever going to come across.Metal Hammer
Meticulously researched, comprehensive, well-written and intellectually fertile.Eros Digest
A fascinating read. Worryingly so.The List
Yeeuch.The Sunday Times
The definitive guide.Empire
A truly vital and genuinely unique book.Samhain
Not a work to be taken lightly . . . Compulsive.Flesh & Blood
Sensible . . . Informed . . . Necessary.The Dark Side
The tome of choice for those fascinated with the marginalia.Tower Pulse!
A sane and rational voice . . . the authoritative guide.Compulsion
A captivating read . . . cleverly structured, well-researched and lucidly written.Shivers
A beautiful book.Shock Cinema
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