DEATH ON FILM: MONDO, SNUFF & SHOCKUMENTARY | Offscreen
A remarkable selection of films about the presentation of death on screen and the human compulsion to look at it. Classics and cult movies alternate with extreme cinema and pure trash exploiting the pornography of violence. From Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom", "Last House on Dead End Street", the infamous "Faces of Death" and "Guinea Pig" series, to the Belgian "Des morts" and "C'est arrivé près de chez vous", Michael Haneke's "Benny's Video" or "The Blair Witch Project" and "[REC]", these 25 titles couldn't be any more varied. From the sensational Mondo documentaries of the 60s to the mythologies that evolved around snuff cinema - which claimed to have captured real murder on screen - to the phenomenon of "found footage" horror, from 80s so-called video nasties with their unsavoury yet tempting VHS cover artwork, to the 21st century dashcam and smartphone streaming of acts of violence, catastrophe and accidents, our fascination with death is always confrontational, and shockingly topical.
A woman is tortured to death in this Japanese "snuff" movie which purports to be found footage (and which upset Charlie Sheen so much that he asked the FBI to investigate). The artier sequel, in which another woman is dismembered and eviscerated, was directed by legendary horror manga artist Hideshi Hino.
Buckle up for a wild and crazy ride through the mind-boggling insanity of Russian dashcam footage. Dmitrii Kalashnikov's deftly-edited compilation is bumper-to-bumper with hilarious, terrifying, horrific or just plain what-the-fuck moments on the road. All of human life is here, and never a dull moment!
Cavara confronts the legacy of "Mondo Cane", which he co-directed, with this quasi-autobiographical fiction about a Mondo filmmaker who blurs the boundary between staged and natural death to get better footage. This insider peek at the Mondo phenomenon is a rare classic, screened in a restored version.
A lonely serial killer falls off a ladder and lies dying in a pool of his own blood while his miserable life flashes before his eyes. Reality and delusion intermingle in his memories of rape and murder, an obsession with the prostitute next door, vaginas with teeth, and hammering nails into his own penis.
A rotting human corpse supplies the framing device for seven different segments, one for each day of the week, exploring the themes of murder and suicide played out in variously shocking, exploitative, poignant or surreal ways. Hermann Kopp's fantastic electro-industrial score provides the finishing touch.
Jörg Buttgereit suggested this clear-eyed, philosophical documentary about the chief pathologist in a morgue on the outskirts of Budapest. At home, he leads a regular life with his family; at work, he dissects and eviscerates cadavers, peels back faces and cracks open craniums – all shown in non-sensationalist but unflinching detail.
Three Belgian filmmakers spent two years filming death rituals, autopsies and mourning customs in various cultures around the world (including Nepal, Japan, Mexico and the USA) for this cinematic montage of "memento mori". The result is a respectful, detached anthropological study with some gruesome images.
Fourteen-year-old Benny, a pampered middle-class kid desensitized to the modern world, records everything he does on video - even when he's calmly committing a murder. The second film in Haneke's so-called Glaciation Trilogy, this is every bit as provocative and didactic as the same director's "Funny Games".
George C. Scott gives a powerhouse performance as a straitlaced Midwest businessman who plunges into California's sleazy porn subculture in a desperate quest to find his missing daughter. Paul Schrader wrote and directed this descent into a netherworld where the line between S&M and snuff is dangerously thin.
This German Mondo film, a big hit in its day, sets out to show how bizarre and sick-making Asian traditions can be with its xenophobic commentary on Japanese S&M clubs and Indian cremation. Among other delights on offer are extreme piercings, sex-change surgery, and the slaughter of animals.
A TV reporter and her cameraman tag along with a firefighting crew and find themselves trapped in a Barcelona apartment building where residents are succumbing to a rabies-like virus. This rollercoaster of nerve-shredding tension and jump scares is one of the best entries in the "found footage" subgenre.
First and best of the series of "exotic" Mondo shockumentaries that infiltrated cinemas in the 60s, this also provided the template for the notorious "Faces of Death" films and similar compilations of footage of unstaged murders or suicides, depraved rituals, cruelty to animals and other brutish behaviour.
Deze controversiële sensatie begon als de low-budget horrorfilm "Slaughter" van Michael en Roberta Findlay. Zonder medeweten van de regisseurs, plakte distributeur/producent Allan Shackleton er een nieuw einde aan (waarin de film crew een moord pleegt) en promootte het als een waargebeurde snuff film.
Three students go into the woods to make a documentary about a local legend, and vanish. The only clue to their fates lies in the spooky footage they left behind. This semi-improvised low-budget chiller wasn't the first "found footage" film, but canny internet marketing turned it into a media sensation.
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