Please note that aside from the title screens and the picture of Anton LaVey, I will not be posting screenshots from this. Instead, I googled "Morbid Curiosity" and posted those pictures instead.
After quietly watching and in some cases skimming the content in Death Scenes 1 and 2, I can state with full confidence that I am probably, most definitely NOT a sociopath. This is good news considering I at one point cut a part of my dog's ear off with sewing scissors when I was little (In my defense I was playing "Vet"....). But now, I'm glad to report that I do have feelings and that I do not take pride in watching actual, real footage of death.
When I saw on Netflix that the most watched Instant streaming movies were Death Scenes: The Manson Clan and Death Scenes 2, I became simultaneously interested and disgusted. What does it say about us as a culture, who have a vast amount of movies to watch at their disposal yet choose to watch videos and photographs of people's dead bodies? Naturally as someone on the path to discovering what it is about disturbing films that forces people to watch them, I couldn't pass up the chance to see or experience these death scenes.
Narrated by Anton LaVey, both Death Scenes are extremely difficult to watch. I felt physically bothered by it all and couldn't stop worrying that somewhere, some 12 year old teenage boys were laughing and replaying these horrific images over and over again. We really see it all here. We see war photos, we see Marilyn Monroe on the slab, we see the Manson Clan's dirty work---we see dead children, people's heads blown off, people jumping out of buildings and seemingly bouncing off the sidewalk. These are videos not for the faint of heart and yet they continue to stay on Netflix's most watched list.
Part of it I'm sure, is our curiosity. How many of us can say that while passing by a highway accident, we didn't crane our necks to get a glimpse of the carnage? It's almost as if we as humans have this inability to look away from things that are horrible and morbid. But why? I almost feel like because most of us have never experienced that kind of death up close and personal, that we don't understand or take it in the way that we should.
Death Scenes seems to me to be exactly what non-horror fans think horror fans like--and that upsets me. The difference between real life and horror films is that horror films ARE films. They aren't real. We aren't taking pleasure in the fact that these could in fact be real people. We know they aren't. Death Scenes however is an entirely different ball game. But you know what the saddest part about it is? Because I watch so many horror films, so many of the images I was faced with in these documentaries looked fake to me. It just didn't seem possible that I was watching real people die on film. Only when I started reminding myself that this was in fact real, was when I started feeling sick.
I made it through barely 10 minutes of Death Scenes before I had to start fast forwarding. It at times simply felt like too much. The scenes of death are overlapped with this cheery music, Anton LaVey narrates a few of the scenes like some kind of twisted game show host. The clip of Vic Morrow getting killed on the set of The Twilight Zone movie was replayed over about 25 times, each time getting more and more zoomed in until you can just make out bodies getting crushed beneath the helicopter. This is what kind of freaks me out about Death Scenes. Why do we need to see that replayed until we actually DO see something? Hopefully I'm not alone in feeling comforted by the fact that the fuzzy video of it does not warrant an actual good glimpse at what happens?
I'm not going to discourage people from watching either of these "documentaries". I use the quotes there because I'm not sure if that's what this is classified under or not. Aside from a few spots of commentary, there is no talking and picture are videos are merely playing. I will say in Death Scenes 2 that there is a rather interesting video tutorial on how an autopsy is done. This I feel better about because it is somewhat enlightening and makes you feel less bad about yourself. Overall though, Death Scenes puts a bad taste in my mouth. It makes me question its necessity and the kind of people that flock to watch it. Not that I can judge anyone, since I did also watch it. Hmmm maybe most of those people were like me---morbidly interested or curious about why these videos exist?
Maybe it's telling after all, that while we crane our necks to get a look at the aftermath of a car accident and if by chance we do see something---we immediately lose the desire to see it ever again. Such is Death Scenes. Watch it. Skim through it and hopefully you like me will erase it off your queue and never have to look at it again.