Killing For Culture: Death on Film and the Enigma of snuff, or Killing for Culture: Death Film from Mondo to Snuff, as it was originally printed back in 1995.
This is a book Tomas lent to me one time and I couldn't put it down. I can't do the book justice when describing what it's about, so I shall steal a review from Amazon.com.
Autopsies. Car crashes. Suicides. Executions. Horrible accidents. Human remains. Assassinations. Welcome to the horrifying and disturbing yet often weirdly fascinating world of death in film. Face it, most people are strangely attracted by images of violence and death - just like stopping and watching when an accident has happened.
KILLING FOR CULTURE concerns death in films. The book starts with the story of an obscure movie named SNUFF in 1976. Originally titled SLAUGHTER, this 1971 ultracheapo horror flick about a MANSON - style murder spree was considered unwatchable and remained unreleased for several years until movie producer Allan SHACKLETON got an idea: He shot a new ending, where an actress was seemingly "killed" on camera for real (though the basement special effects clearly proofed otherwise). Cleverly promoted with the slogan "shot in South America, where life is cheap" SNUFF turned out to be a huge success. This was how the concept of snuff movies (where people are killed for real) was introduced. Other feature films like EMMANUELLE IN AMERICA or LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET further elaborated on this concept. The authors review the above mentioned films and many more in great detail and with much knowledge.
Further chapters revolve around the so called "mondo" (shockumentary) film and how this genre evolved, starting with MONDO CANE in 1962. Writers KEREKES and SLATER show in a very detailed way, how mondo directors faked and re-enacted death footage, which was allegedly "real". I found this making - of approach particularly interesting. Many of the horrifying mondo films (like THE KILLING OF AMERICA and the infamous FACES OF DEATH series) are dealt with in lengthy reviews. Considering the subject matter one might expect that the book is written in an exploitative way. This clearly is not the case.
Further chapters concern films where real atrocity footage was used - like the US porn movie FORCED ENTRY about a post-traumatic stress disorder suffering Vietnam veteran rapist, whose "activities" are interspersed with actual combat newsreel footage. The last chapter details how tabloid papers and feminists are propagating the urban legend of snuff films. The sheer amount of facts concerning real reel death the authors have crammed in the relatively small book is amazing:
Hospital documentaries like the 6 hour long NEAR DEATH. Nauseating underground films. The famous ZAPRUDER amateur film of the assassination of president John F. KENNEDY. Autopsy films like THE ACT OF SEEING WITH ONE'S OWN EYES. Driver education films depicting the daily carnage on the streets. Incidents where people committed suicide live in front a camera - like Pennsylvania state treasurer Budd R. DWYER, who blew his brains out with a .357 revolver during a press conference after being convicted of bribery. The GIMME SHELTER concert film, where a camera by accident caught some Hell's Angels stabbing a man. (Please note that these are only a few examples of what to find in this excellent book.)
The book is illustrated with dozens of highly interesting pictures (video covers, stills, posters, ad material, newspaper clips). And, yes, the infamous Japanese GUINEA PIG series is covered as well. On a lighter note, the authors also review a hoax autopsy film of a Roswell alien (!)
As you can image this book is disturbing, sometimes revolting and could be offensive to some. Clearly it is only for the most devoted fan of extreme and obscure cinema/film and the most hardened horror buff. But for these groups it is absolutely indispensable. I can't praise it high enough.
Now, the book I read was already revised back in 1995, and is long out of print, and not at all cheap to find. But lo and behold, were are not all "ish outta luck" if we want to own this book. Not only is it being re-released in November, it is being expanded, revised and updated to discuss how the internet has changed the accessibility of these scenes.
I can not stress enough how good a read this book was, and to see it see print again for a new generation is a great deal no matter what the price. A lot of the movies Tomas and I have gone lengths to view we learned of from this book. A perfect book for this site, I endorse it 100%.