In the 1990s, Wave Productions in New Jersey established itself as perhaps the leading distributor of shot-on-video horror movies. Its catalogue was expansive because of a very simple if ingenious marketing premise: Customers scripted and paid for their own movies.
From the outset, customers wanted sexy girls in horrible situations. Yet, Wave had reservations about nudity and violence, underplaying or rejecting entirely anything it considered extreme. Not all the companies that followed were as conscientious. Fetish custom studios now operate internationally, patronised by individuals with a hankering to see a favourite model hiccup in white socks, or else, more likely, be executed and play dead.
This lecture traces the history of the custom shoot, from its clumsy beginnings in video horror to the present facsimile death scenes, often enhanced by digital effects and sometimes featuring explicit sex. These short films closely mimic the motifs of the mythological ‘snuff’ film, in as much as the customer suggests a scenario, the preferred mode of death (gunshot, strangulation, hanging, etc.) and the victim (plucked from a studio’s own roster of performers). Thus the custom shoot occupies a unique space in the collective mind-set, one created and never occupied by the ‘reality’ of snuff films.
About the instructor:
David Kerekes is a co-founder of the publishing house Headpress. He is co-author of the books Killing for Culture (1994), revised and updated as Killing for Culture: From Edison to Isis — A New History of Death on Film (2016), and See No Evil: Banned Films and Video Controversy (2001). He is the author of Sex Murder Art: The Films of Jörg Buttgereit (1994) and has written extensively on popular culture. His meditation on southern Italian Diaspora and folklore, Mezzogiorno, was published in 2012.
About the Miskatonic Institute:
Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is a non-profit, community-based organization that started in Canada, founded by Kier-La Janisse in March of 2010. The school currently has branches in Montreal and London, with Miskatonic London operating under the co-direction of Kier-La Janisse and Electric Sheep Founder/Editor Virginie Sélavy.
All classes take place at the historic Horse Hospital, the heart of the city’s underground culture. Season ticket is £35 and will be available shortly. Individual class tickets are £10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concessions and will be available 30 days in advance of each class.
For full details of the next courses please check the Miskatonic website. For all enquiries, please email Miskatonic.london[at]gmail.com.